It was a beautiful weekend in north Georgia as the Craddock Center held its annual Appalachian Weekend. Appalachian Weekend celebrates the art, craft and folklore of southern Appalachia. The Craddock Center serves to relieve poverty and illiteracy in the north Georgia area where it is located. For those who don't know, Cherry Log is located right halfway between Maxwell and Lucius (seriously, about 90 miles north of Atlanta).
For me, it was a beautiful weekend to see old friends again. Cherry Log Christian Church was my first ministry out of seminary, at the time a new congregation, so the invitation to come back for Appalachian Weekend and play was readily accepted. Many members of the church displayed their mountain crafts: Ron Midkiff's bead weaving, baskets by Jim Wieland and the unique painting style of C.W. Connor, just to name a few.
Curator Anna Fariello, a former research fellow with the Smithsonian American Art Museum and former field researcher for the Smithsonian Folklife Center, spoke on the revival of southern craft in the mountains during the Saturday afternoon program. It was an honor to precede her lecture with music. I've never been the warmup act for a curator before. I must say it was a grand experience. Wayfaring Stranger was, of course, on the set list along with other mountain gospel tunes.
It was while serving in Cherry Log that I first heard Five Pounds of Possum. During the fall when folks from the city would come up to drink in the dazzling fall displays in the mountains, art and craft fairs would pop up all over. I played at one apple barn, and after my set I listened to the group after me, and they played the best song about roadkill I've ever heard. Well, they played the only song about roadkill I've ever heard. From that point on I wanted to learn it. Now, with a little help from Google, it's part of the repertoire. Every performer needs a good roadkill song.
Those mountains carry a lot of good memories. Although life's circumstances prevented us from staying long, our time in Cherry Log and Blue Ridge made a lasting impression. The draw of friendships made keeps the heart connected to a place, even after being away for years. Hearts are tricky that way. They can stay with you and stay behind all at the same time.
The mountains are beautiful, especially in the fall. The photo at left was taken from the deck of the friends' house where we stayed.
The people of the mountains are beautiful, native and newcomer alike.
On Sunday morning, we worshipped at Cherry Log Christian Church, and I sang Love Divine during communion. After that, we made our way back to our Indiana home.
We'll be back. The heart draws you back to those places, to say nothing of the stomach. We didn't get any barbecue from the Pink Pig. We've got to go back!