Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Monday, 11 June 2007

Appalachian Bluegrass

Camp Creek State Park, West Virginia – June 10, 2007

By accident, we stop for the night at a State park that is having a Bluegrass festival. We sit in the grass and listen to the banjos and dulcimers for a few hours. It’s cooler up here in the Appalachian Mountains. The fireflies are still flitting though the trees at 3 AM.

You know things are a little different when you see a sign in the ranger station that says, “Fresh eggs $1.50 a dozen; $2.00 for 18 count”.

The Appalachian Mountain range is 300 to 350 million years old. It’s the oldest mountain range on Earth, formed before animals emerged from the sea. West Virginia is the center of Appalachia. These mountains were once higher than the Himalayas and now are stubby, eroded remnants.

This has always been a notoriously poor region. Bobby Kennedy visited here on February 14, 1968, during the Tet Offensive. He was “fact finding “about the results of the “War on Poverty”. I was off loading helicopters in the middle of a lackadaisical firefight on a ocean beach airstrip halfway around the world.

He said then, “... our nation must be told the truth about this war, in all its terrible reality, both because it is right, and because only in this way can any administration rally public confidence and unity for the shadowed days which lie ahead.”

What Bobby didn’t understand, from his patrician perspective, is that the people always eventually figure out the truth by themselves. We’ve gone from having nothing to fear but fear itself, to being told that it’s patriotic to be afraid and having color codes to tell us how much.

It’s an insular place. I get a number of confused stares as I listen to the music. I feel that people are thinking something is wrong with me but they’re not quite sure what it is. If you’re not quite sure what “bluegrass” music is, here’s a short video.

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