Little Worlds - An Unexpected Guest

I’ve lived in Madison County for forty-five years now and, being here, I’ve learned and done things I never would have imagined when I was a young man. It’s been a rich and extraordinary time. This past weekend allowed me to add to the ever-growing list of remarkable gifts this place has brought me.

Easter weekend began with our third major flood in the last twelve months, this one, perhaps, the worst yet. Collapsed roadways, mudslides and, covering every flooded pasture, yard, or parking area, a debris field of logs, refuse, small buildings, and trailers.

We had gotten a call a couple of days before from our neighbor and friend, McCray Roberts. Like us, McCray has a B&B he rents for short and medium length stays and he was calling to see if our place was available. Seems that McCray had had a young couple in his place for the last two weeks, where they were planning to birth their second child. Problem was, the baby was overdue and he had other renters coming the next day so the couple had to leave. “Can you all take them in?’

Now, given this was Easter weekend, and me being an ex-Catholic, the symbolism was running rampant in my mind. “Of course, they can come here.”

The flooded French Broad River at Barnard, 2019/04/19.

They were young, he was twenty-one and she seemed younger, already with an eighteen month old son. They loved our barn apartment, deep in the woods, quiet, sheep and goats, comfortable, just what they wanted for the birth. Despite our initial enthusiasm we also were skeptical. Leslie was a mother/baby nurse for thirty years and started worrying about all the things that can go wrong. We both were concerned about the midwife finding our place, given our sketchy relationship with GPS and the flooded and closed roads. The young couple were non-plussed, so we moved forward.


Heather contracting in My Studio, PawPaw, 2019


I walked up to my studio in the barn to check email and messages and found Heather sitting on the futon in my work space. The heat was turned up, the overhead fan going, and Heather was focussed. Contractions were five minutes apart, the baby was on its way. The midwives hadn’t arrived and Tyler hadn’t heard from them in some time. I drove to the bottom of our driveway and waited. And waited. Finally, 45 minutes later a solitary man arrived, a doctor. The midwife couldn’t come because her father had had a heart attack. I took him up to the barn and helped carry in supplies.

We had talked about pictures of the birth, but Heather decided against it, wanting it to just be her husband, son, and the doctor. I went down to the house.


Waiting for the Midwife at the Bottom of Our Driveway, PawPaw, 2019


Heather and Baby Sophia, PawPaw, 2019


The Family - Heather, Tyler, Zacharia and 16 hour old Baby Sophia, PawPaw, 2019.

The next morning, Easter Sunday, we received an early call. Baby Sophia had arrived the night before, “a magnificent birth,” Tyler said. Would I like to come up and meet the baby and make pictures? I did. By that afternoon they were packed up and heading down our driveway, heading home.