No, I didn't fall off the face of the Earth...Although a few times in the last month or so it has certainly felt like it to me. At Summer Solstice, I was presented with the opportunity to move to the mountains of Southwestern Virginia, and because it felt so right, I did. If moving to North Carolina six years ago " felt like coming home"-and it very much did at the time-Appalachia has felt even more so.
Especially this tiny former coal mining town tucked away in an unimaginably green valley. It is so remote that it feels like I now live in that place you see on ancient maps where the ocean runs over the edge of the flat Earth map. You know it- the place where the caption reads, " There be dragons" usually appears. (Okay, it's not actually like that: there is a bus three days a week that carts us off to the various surrounding towns ten miles away...and there is a Super Walmart and a Dollar Tree.) At night, when the sidewalks have been rolled up and the inky sky is illuminated by a billion stars, it feels very primal and wild. And it is.
Over the Summer, I've been occupied making my new place into a home, adjusting to life in a region I've visited but never lived in. The population of the town I actually live in is listed officially as 300; I'm still wondering if that's counting all the dogs, cats and pigeons...and an occasional wild duck or two. Still, the
mountains are literally a breath of fresh air, and I am eagerly awaiting the change of the leaves. This is a town that typifies small town America, and specifically Appalachia. Last week there was an Autumn Jamboree in the much larger neighboring town where the highlight of the event was the apple butter being made in a huge open cauldron, some very good country music made by local bands, and a fireworks display. There was a rather large assortment of handicrafts being offered, and at least a dozen "welcome" tables set up by area churches. ( You cannot throw a rock here without hitting a church: all the major JudeoChristian denominations are represented, including-surprise!-a synagogue). An even bigger surprise was the conversation I had with a woman the other day who matter-of-factly told me that she knew of a few Pagans in the area:" They're nice people.They call themselves witches. They don't worship the Devil or dance naked, and they don't curse people. They are earth-centered and love Nature." Now I have to admit, this nearly made my head spin around a few times...Here I am in the mountains where Southwestern Virginia and West Virginia are nearly indistinguishable, and someone I've just met ( who has no idea I am one) begins telling me about the local Pagans! WOW...this is why I still have hope for a future where we can openly worship without the local populace arming themselves with pitchforks,folks.
Yesterday, one of those small local churches decorated the main street of my new adopted hometown with scarecrows because it's "harvest season". There is a Pumpkin Festival taking place in mid-October.
More to come...I'm going out to enjoy the locusts chirping.