Friends in High Places
A day spent in Floyd – the one stoplight rural town I live in – can be as exciting as time spent in any big city, as far as I’m concerned.
On Friday I had lunch at Oddfellas Cantina with two amazingly accomplished women, sold 10 books (The Jim and Dan Stories), and got invited to go to the New Orleans Jazz Festival – complete with a backstage pass – all in the matter of a couple of hours.
The bag of books, brought by request of Elizabeth McCommon (center) for her book club to read, sat at my feet while we settled in at the front table with the sun streaming in. Elizabeth is somewhat of a local celebrity. She’s mostly known for her folk music and acting abilities and is currently teaching a memoir writing class at the YMCA Open University in Blacksburg. The last time I saw her was over 10 years ago when I worked in the bead shop in Blacksburg. She told me then that a new song was brewing, either in protest or in jest, called "Where has all the Foreskin Gone.”
I see Alwyn (right) more often. She’s a longtime dear friend, a poet, animal rights activist, environmentalist, author, artist, Rudolf Steiner kindergarten teacher, and more. We have a long history together, one such period being when we worked on a publication together, called “The Bell: A Call to Peace.”
I had just come from listening to the rock and roll of Neil Young (Living with War) on my computer at home and was still under its influence. We tried not to all talk at once. I was digging into my Harvest Bowl with the creamy feta garlic dressing when Melody (on the left), music promoter at the Winter Sun, walked in with a music poster she was about to hang. I called her over because I knew Elizabeth would want to meet her. Elizabeth is an old friend of another local musician, Acourt Bason, the Rasta Buddhist Recluse who I wrote about earlier this year.
It’s a small world in Floyd. Melody and Acourt are a couple now. She’s planning his upcoming art opening at the Black Water Loft. Knowing what a hermit he is, I asked Melody, jokingly, “Is Acourt going to come to the opening?”
We were all of us jotting down addresses, dates, and exchanging posters (I had some for the upcoming Spoken Word Open Mic) when the conversation turned to The New Orleans Jazz Festival where Melody is scheduled to be with the Kusun Ensemble next weekend.
“You could probably meet Peter Gabriel,” she said, inviting me to tag along. The blogger in me got wide-eyed.
“I have to go home and think about. I don’t think well with other people around,” I told her.
Right next door, Joanne and Billy Bell were celebrating the grand opening of their new shop, The Bell Gallery and Garden. More old friends of Elizabeth’s. We went over to collect some hugs, to drool over Billy’s photography, and to admire Joanne’s pressed flower glasswork.
Next stop, the Winter Sun Warehouse, to shop for some hand dyed clothes from Ecuador. I don’t think you can go into the Winter Sun without stopping at the Café Del Sol for tea or coffee. And I don’t think you can stop at Café Del Sol without seeing any number of friends to catch up with.
By the end of the stimulating afternoon, I was spinning with the upbeat pace of it all. Later, at home I planted several rows of Swiss chard and kale. It was time to come back down to earth.
Post Note: The building on the left in the first photo is where Oddfella’s Cantina lives. The green building, just to the right of that, is Joanne and Billy Bell’s new shop. All the places mentioned above are within walking distance of each other. Check out Acourt’s new website here.