Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blogging from the Mountain

Short excerpt from what I am working on...
...Below is a SHORT, FIRST DRAFT section of what I've been working on. Yes, this is a draft, so no one jump my case for tense shifts (I'm still not sure how to structure this) just look at this as a little more polished than just general free writing or stream of consciousness.

Oh yeah, and this is copyrighted, blah, blah, blah, insert legal jargon here....

Big Tom Wilson

If you were exploring the Black Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1890s, and had the need for rest, nourishment, and a decent night sleep safety away from the elements, you might stop at a a small farm near Pensacola, around the Cane River. You would be greeted by frenzied barking from blue tick and black and tan hounds, while chicken and livestock wandered around the grounds next to small plots of corn and other crops. You might hear a worried bray from the sheep’s pen, its residents debating which one would be the next to end up as mutton, and smoke would be slowly curling from the chimney of a cabin that was covered with bear skins. As you walk toward the porch you catch the scent of something delicious cooking on the stove---though your scenes can’t quite identify what was cooking. In block letters on the side of the cabin, someone has painted “Big Tom,” as if no other explanation or detail were necessary.

If you were expected ---and even if you weren’t expected---a tall, lean and lank figure with a snowy beard and dancing eyes would invite you inside to rest a spell and have some of the vittles that Mother had been cooking. As he ushers you through the front door, and you marvel at the collection of fishing rods, hunting traps and guns that seem to decorate every nook and rafter of the three room home. After miles of hiking, the cozy cabin melts the dank moisture from your feet. If you wanted to sample some homemade apple pie while you were there, that could be arranged, and you may even be given a snack to take with you on the rest of your trip. If you needed a reliable hunting guide and trailblazer for the rest of your journey, that could be arranged as well, for you were in the company of one of the best the Appalachians had ever produced.

And if you wanted to simply sit back in front of the fireplace and listen to backcountry mountain tales, that could be arranged --and often was --- without even having to ask.

It’s quite possible that Big Tom’s life could have continued simply unnoticed like many of his fellow Scots-Irish mountain breathern who farmed and made a living on the mountains. But one event thrust him from the face of the mountain into the front page of newspapers, and from newspapers to history, and from history to legend. It was one of the most sensational events of the 1850s---the search for Dr. Elisha Mitchell, university professor and scientist, who had traveled to the Black Mountains to confirm the highest peak of the Appalachians, and was missing for more than a week........

.....Big Tom loved to tell stories. I don’t know if this trait can be genetically linked to a chromosome in my family’s DNA, but if there were a link, I’m sure you’d find a stream of storytellers not just in my family, but in every family that roamed these hills through the decades.

It is not my job to play as judge and jury as to which stories have merit and which ones do not. I’m not a historian. I am a storyteller. And I believe Big Tom would be okay with that.

After all, he was a storyteller, too.

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