Sunday, September 21, 2008
West Virginia, Mountain Mommas
One of the classes I'm taking this semester is "Appalachian Literature and Culture," an "elective pathway" requirement within the RCAH that is being taught by Anita Skeen, a poet and West Virginia native. With the semester barely underway, she offered my class an opportunity to travel to Elkins, West Virginia for a weekend. The point of the trip was to be immersed in Appalachian culture and to get a feel for the place and history of an area we are going to focus on for the next few months. Of course, I couldn't pass it up.
We stayed at Water Gap Retreat on the Cheat River, which is owned by reknowned textile artist and all-around cool guy Michael Davis.
As you can see from his website, he specializes in the Japanese style of shibori dying. Imagine high-end, silk tie-dye. He owns a beautiful cabin, and built 5 "dwellings" with the shibori-dyed silks as windows. Over time, the outside-facing silk has faded, but in the morning you wake up in a canvas cathedral. It's unbelievably beautiful, especially with the rushing Cheat River right outside your door.
In the evening, my lovely classmates and I waded into the Cheat River where it grows still, armed with our steely resolves and some biodegradable shampoo, to clean up after long days packed with activity. The river is almost unbearably cold as you first dip into it, but once you're submerged it's just about perfect.
In the morning, the river and the air mingle together, waiting for the sun to rise. It was the perfect way to greet the day, watching the sun pierce through the trees and mist.