People, it was awesome. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it was. It was packed with people, most of whom I knew, some of whom I only knew from blogging, and a few I didn’t know at all. We had to bring out chairs from the bank and still some people ended up having to sit on hay bales.

And there was a smoke machine! A smoke machine which spewed smoke. I half expected a tiny Stonehenge to descend from someplace.

The patio was perfect and the Butcher shouted “Encore” at the end and I had such a good time.

That is all. I just feel really happy and proud and thankful.

Thanks to everyone who came out. I really, really appreciate it.

20. Sulphur Creek Road

Sulphur Creek Road doesn’t appear on old maps, though there’s a church along it that has had a congregation for a hundred and fifty years. It stretches between Old Hickory Boulevard and Eatons Creek Road, winding through that infamous northwest Davidson County terrain. Sharp hills, a tight hollow, turns that run you straight into trouble before you see it coming. A hundred years ago, it ran between land the Simpkinses owned and land the Hazlewoods owned.

They never used it.

A hundred and fifty years ago, it was common to smell the sour bite of mash in the still out there, which meant armed men with something to hide.

Two hundred years ago, it was difficult for white men to travel into this area, one of the last places the previous inhabitants were routed out of, those who did not disappear.

A long time ago, rumor started to spread that a person didn’t have to go very far north to find freedom, that there was, for those brave enough to make a break for it, a place just outside of town, not quite to Ashland City, where, if you could get there, they couldn’t get you back.

It only took two guns, they said, to defend it, the strategic advantage was so great. One at the north end of the hollow, up in the hill, and the other at the south end. Like early snipers, they could pick a group of men on horseback off before the riders even knew what direction the gunfire came from.

They say, even now, if you drive Sulphur Creek Road after dark, with you windows down and your radio off, you’ll often catch a muzzle flash and hear the shot fired right at you, even if the folks who guard this place can no longer hurt you.

Even now, especially after dark, this is not a place strangers are welcome.

Blanket Flowers and Other Random Things

–People, it is October. Deep into October. Most of the flowers in my garden that bloomed in the spring are either dried coneheads or have gone dormant. Not these few blanketflowers. They are still blooming. And they look fantastic. They looked fantastic back in May. Half a year later? Still fantastic. How is this possible? I didn’t deadhead them or really water them or protect them from being run over by my crazed father or anything.

And yet, they’re like “Sure, we’ll pick up the yellow in these fallen leaves.”

Kathy is kindly spreading the word about my October 31st reading.

Sean Braisted has a point. Christians who complain along certain lines about Muslims make themselves look so wickedly ignorant of their own history it’s almost embarrassing to witness.

–I feel like this–“I suspect that a large part of the problem, when we talk about culture, is an inability to code-switch, to understand that the language of Rohan is not the language of Mordor. I don’t say this to minimize culture, to the contrary, I say it to point how difficult it is to get people to discard practices which were essential to them in one world, but hinder their advancement into another. And then there’s the fear of that other world, that sense that if you discard those practices, you have discarded some of yourself, and done it in pursuit of a world, that you may not master.”–is applicable to our earlier discussion. Man, I love Coates.

I Wait, I Wait, I Wait, I Wait

It’s hard to remember now, with the ubiquity of the internet, but it used to be hard to find out about things. Music, for instance. My dad had an extensive music collection, but it wasn’t current. So, I had, growing up, a lot of folk music, some rock with folk roots, jazz (which I didn’t care for), and whatever was on the radio.

If ever I learned about any cool bands, it was because of the good influence of my friend who was here to visit last week, because she had older sisters in Minneapolis and Chicago, where you could go see music the likes of which you would never hear on the radio.

Only once she shared with me “Waiting Room” by Fugazi and I listened to that “I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait” over and over again in my head like it was going to be the antidote to something I couldn’t even name.

I love this video, too, because it still hits me as being something I can’t be a part of but can take great delight in standing outside, watching.

Honestly, to kind of go off on a tangent, I wonder if I am not the anti-Gretchen Wilson. She says

I don’t think anything about country people is ignorant. If your goal is to grow up and stay in the same small town you’ve always been in, work at the corner market and own a double wide trailer on a half acre lot, that’s fine. If that’s your dream that should be good enough for everyone else, too. If you see your life as small, home, community, family, that’s great. I think we’ve lost a lot of that in this country and there’s nothing ignorant about holding onto your values.

And believe me, I hear her. And I get that I probably went to school with a lot of people who felt and feel the same way. But damn, this was the shape of the trap of my life–that life is small and just home and community and family. And I hate it that she’s pushing that as enough for folks. There’s some little girl out there who is a huge Gretchen Wilson fan who needs to hear that the world is bigger than her small town, that it is as big as the one Wilson now lives in.

But, as much as Wilson annoys me with this, I just can’t be mad at her. This is her fairytale–that you can live a good enough life very small. And to be as successful and talented as she is and still telling yourself that story?

It kind of breaks my heart.