A Historic Weekend

jonesboroghHistory seems to be a running theme with me lately. Mostly the mid to late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. This Saturday I went to Jonesborough, Tennessee. It is the state’s oldest town and the storytelling capital of the world. Every year, during the first week in October, Jonesborough hosts the National Storytelling Festival.  I have never been but I have heard that it really is something special.

We took the walking tour of Historic Jonesborough and learned a lot. Jonesborough was the birthplace of one of Roosevelt’s rough riders, and at least three U.S. presidents stayed there for awhile. In the 1800’s it was the last post of civilization west.

The old Inn still stands, where men were packed as many to a room as would fit. That teameans in the bed and in the floor. You didn’t get a room to yourself or even a bed. We were able to look around upstairs at a few of the rooms that had been restored to the Victorian era. I knew about the Victorian fondness for wallpaper but it is different seeing it up close; with the bright blue patterns on the wall and the pink circle patterns on the ceiling.

Jonesborough is a place of interesting shops like Paul’s Pens Odds & Ends where I bought a new writing implement. I can’t call it just a pen because the cartridge is removable and has pencil lead which can take its place. Each item in the shop is crafted with awe inspiring talent. I loved the dragon pens and the ones made from 30,000 year old wood.

Jonesborough was a interesting trip through time. However, on Sunday I took another trip which was just as interesting. The kids and I drove over to Red Clay State Park which was the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the Trail of Tears. This weekend for the first time in 176 years, three of the recognized tribes met at the ancestral council grounds.

cherokee 2015My children got a chance to see a piece of the past. Like many in the area, we are descended from Cherokee. The Irish and the German in our bloodline hides the native blood behind blue eyes and light hair, but it is still there.

My son really enjoyed it. He got to hear how the water spider brought fire to the Cherokee basketspeople and how the Eagle carries prayers to the creator. He got to touch soap stone and see how it is carved. He got to see baskets being woven. We had a fun weekend and we all came away with a bit more knowledge.

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Following the path

houseSunday, there was a Native American Pow Wow at Red Clay State Park.  Since it had warmed up just a bit and the kids were growing restless, we decided to drive down and check it out.   There were quite a few people.  It was interesting but my daughter and I mostly stayed on the outskirts.  (There was quite a bit of Sage burning at various booths and we both are fighting sinus issues at the moment.)

Inside one of the replica houses, we spoke with a couple of park rangers keeping warm in park rangersfront of the burning fire place. They answered my daughter’s questions as well as a few of mine. (I didn’t realize that sometimes in the Summer that the clay and straw packed between the logs would fall out and the people would leave it alone until cooler weather.  It would allow the air to circulate during the hotter months.)

blue holeWe took a long walk on one of the hiking paths and stopped by to gaze at the Blue Hole Spring. (It was said to be an entrance to an “Underworld” where the seasons were the opposite of ours which is why the spring is always cold in the Summer.)  It was nice watching my daughter delight in nature with the sound of drums beating in the distance.

My great grandparents were Cherokee.  I never got to meet them but my grandparents and pathmy father have told me stories.  There for a moment standing surrounded by trees it felt like I was a part of time.  My daughter walking ahead of me was the future, the echo of chanting and drumming behind me was the past, and I was the present but we were all on the same twisting path through the woods.