On Thursday, Star and I are leaving town and heading to West Virginia. We’re meeting up with Granny Kate and Mark Dooley and they’ve organized a thing on Saturday with local women who have been asked to bring stories and old-timey ways to share.
It’s field research for the next phase of my folk magic study–and an excuse to hang out with a group of interesting people. And it means I get to spend some time in coal country in West Virginia. The history, the legends, the hardship and the strength have been a part of my Appalachian consciousness for so many years. The first play I ever wrote was based on “The Trojan Women” but was set in a coal town in the middle of a mining disaster.
We stand now in a world where the coal is stripped from ravaged mountains, where the best timber was stripped from our part of the mountains a century ago–and now the Southern forests are fodder for European heaters, fracking is the new extraction technology (though it isn’t new at all) and little Oceana, West Virginia has been dubbed “Oxyiana” because there are parts of Appalachia that are so poor, so hopeless that all that’s left is to escape through drugs or leave the homeland altogether.
Since the obvious water crisis in Charleston just over a year ago, the weight of it seems unmovable, implacable. Except the ancient mountains we stand on have seen so much, the people are so strong–and the times are shifting under our feet.
Tower Time. It’s a time to practice what we preach. And what we “preach” is magic.
So we’re going to “Bountiful” to bring our own brand of Appalachian magic.