10/02/2008

Jonesboro- Day 1

Crickett Parmalee arrived promptly at 5:30 am. Jim and I were stowing the last minute items in the car. We were only 5 minutes behind when we pulled up at Jane Dorfman's at 6:05 am. I am mentioning the times because it was a struggle to get up and going that early.

Leaving in the dark we welcomed the sunrise later as we drove down Highway 66 and then Highway 81 through the Shenandoah Valley. Lovely.

With four drivers an eight hour drive is easier. And good conversation shortens the trip. Our carpool to Jonesboro is now a welcome tradition.

Mandy, our Tom Tom voice, called out "you have reached your destination". Our first stop was the Visitors Center . First off Jim snapped a picture of me, Crickett and Jane to mark the start of this year's trip.
I bought the latest blue workshirt because I wear these shirts for telling stories and I also enjoy adding the new logo design every year.


After Jim and I dropped Jane and Crickett off at their lodgings we drove back down Main Street, parked, and set off on a walk through town. The first person we ran into was St. Louis Storyteller Mary Garrett.
It was great seeing her and a catch-up chat with Mary was a terrific way to start the week-end.

We three then meandered over to the "cabin" to check on a few things.
Almost immediately I noticed a woman at the counter who was wearing a marvelous hand-painted vest.
"Mary look at that vest."
"You definitely need a picture of that vest." I snapped one of the back. "Ellouise go ahead - ask her to let you take one from the front too. What's the harm."

I asked. The woman said yes. A we spoke she looked very familiar - but I was not sure who she was. " you look so familiar."
"My name is Adrian Lieberman." Ofcourse - we metseveral times last week-end in Williamsburg where her husband Syd was a featured teller. The tellers and spouses had even eaten meals together.
We connected. "Ah, yes." Then back to this splendid vest.
"Did you make your vest?"
"" No, actually, I found it in a thrift shop."
"I love that."
Mary piped up. "Don't you tell stories about thrift shop clothes, Ellouise?"
"yes I do - and now this gives me another bit for a story."
Thanks, Adrian. Thanks, Mary.
Reminder: if you want a story - ask for it.

As we left the cabin Mary stopped her friend Sherry Norfolk. As we chatted I remembered that Bobbie Norfolk, her husband, told me last week that she had written the wonderful Billy Goats Gruff Rap. I asked her about it. She hesitated and then said, " Well, I did not eactly write it - I dreamed it. I just woke uo one morning and it was all there so I wrote it down. Sometimes we tell it in tandem."
Wow - another insight into how storytellers come by stories - in their dreams.

Tonight Jim and I are going to the National Storytelling Network Story Concert. More about that later.

Written later:
Back from the NSN Concert:

Two highlights for me:
Barbara Freeman told a wonderful new story, The Perfect Heart, a very touching story about the power of love and caring. All the more impressive in that it was a first time telling. She opened saying - "this is my 37th festival, this is home, I should be able to take a risk at home." She did and it was good.

Bobby Norfolk is a class act. He told the Billy Goats Gruff Rap - an active, emotive tale, quick paced and delightful and during the telling found himself paired with a deaf interpreter who was also a miming comic. It was hilarious. Norfolk instead of being thrown by this unexpected competition on stage turned it into a partnering and worked with her comedic talents to to turn the story into a riotous hit which brought down the house.

Only one brief rough spot for me today - as we drove past the turn off to Highway 77 - and the arrow sign points to the exit for Charlotte - I thought of Mama. No use making this turn she's not there. A wave of heavy sadnessy rolled over me. I did not say anything until I told Jim about it later. " That's grief. Its normal. It has not been that long. Ellouise." Not long and yet too long.

I am grateful for stories and storytelling.