Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Stroll and A Strum

Too many people. Too many cars. Thirty-five minutes to go one mile.

It took nearly an hour to drive through Pigeon Forge (TN) and its Grand Rod Run--1.8 miles of pre-1974 cars parked perpendicularly to the main road to the Smokies. Some had their hoods raised as though they were laughing at the fact that people were walking faster than the cars were traveling.

We sought refuge at the Sugarlands Entrance to the Great Smoky National Park. There, Park Ranger Sam Brady led the initial phase of our escape from the crowds, although he was unaware of the role he was playing. We learned that he was a kindred spirit--he has been a full-time RVer for over five years and for the past couple of years has been working as a park ranger for five months of the year.

The walk covered a bit of information on the flora of the Park. For example, the protusions on the sycamore tree were believed to be the spirits of the ancestors of the Cherokees.

The story behind Fighting Creek provided an interesting contrast to its name. Area residents who had claims against each other looked for a way to settle disagreements locally rather than sacrifice work time on their farms to travel the significant distance to the nearest court. It seems that both parties in a disagreement would gather their supporters and meet at the nearby Fighting Creek. From either side of the Creek, each side would state his case and the settlement he wanted. At the conclusion of the statements, the two would rush to the opposite side of the Creek. The first one who was able to make it onto the other bank would be awarded the solution he sought.

There is some evidence of people reaching compromises in disagreements while at Fighting Creek without the charge up the banks, so it does make a good story.

As we walked into the area of the Pickin' Porch behind Wood 'N Strings in Townsend, we were greeted by the woman we had met yesterday in the store. "Here are the folks from Iowa," she said to her friend. "My friend is from Fort Madison," she said to us. The woman had mentioned she had relatives in Comanche, Iowa, which is just south of Clinton, Kate's hometown. Here was another Iowan she knew, so she wanted to introduce us to her. We chatted a bit, and then found a space to set up our chairs for the evening's performances.

Mike Clemmer, the dulcimer maker, and his wife, Connie, began the evening by demonstrating the "Courting dulcimer" that I mentioned in yesterday's entry. As you remember, a young woman's parents would leave their daughter alone with her male suitor playing the double dulcimer. As long as they heard two parts of the dulcimer being played, the parents knew where their hands were.

I don't know, but there seems to be a flaw in this thinking.

Mike also played his creation, a dulcimer with the strings strummed over a banjo drum head (shown in the far right in the two photos above). He calls this a "banjammer," and it sounds very much like a banjo. I don't know the triangular-shaped, stringed instrument that Connie is playing with a bow (in the photo above).

The highlight of the evening was the appearance by Lee Rowe (left, in the photo), a former national champion dulcimer player from Nashville. He did a little teaching of dulcimer techniques and played some demanding tunes.

Nothing like a walk in the woods and listening to the sweet tones of the dulcimer to reduce stress.

1 comment:

senormedia said...

The triangle bowed instrument is a psaltery, I think.