A Community Coverlet


Quilt Presentation, PawPaw, Madison County, NC 1983

Back in the olden days,
(Oh, how I love being able to say that)
 new people moving into Madison County
began a tradition of making and gifting quilts.
For weddings, or new babies, or friendship.
Receiving a quilt meant a certain acceptance.
An embrace.
You were part of the community.
A member of the tribe.

It's a tradition that continues with young people today.
And I think, how rare is that?
Except in places like ours.
Small, close knit, and hands on.

In this photograph Vicki Skemp, aka Vicki Lane, is
thanking her neighbors and friends for the
20th Anniversary Wedding quilt
presented to her and her husband John.
It's a Sister's Choice pattern, 
organized by Vicky Owen and Fay Skemp Uffelman.
It was a potluck day, of course.
This one held at Wayne and Fay Uffelman's farm on Paw Paw Creek.



A Few I Like from the 5th of July


For the last four decades, the folks at Indigo Bunting Lane Farm – Paul Gurewitz, Gary Gumz, Laurie Pedersen and Soren Gurewitz – have hosted an annual 4th of July party. Always held on the Saturday closest to the 4th, the party is the ultimate celebration of community. Paul kneads 100 pounds of pizza dough, makes sauce for 300 people and provides a wood-fired oven. Party-goers bring the toppings of their choice. Volleyball and horseshoes, walks to the river, live music for dancing, as much visiting as you can stand and fireworks always make for a truly exceptional day.

I haven’t missed many of these parties over the years. I remember the first of them in 1975. For me, it’s a time to see old friends, and meet their grandchildren, and reacquaint with folks I only see at the party.

As I age, I see more and more people I don’t know. People new to the community, or from Asheville, and some from farther away. Many young couples are there with children and I love the inter-generational sense of it all. I wonder how all these new folks make it to the party. What brings them to this hard-to-find ninety acres, set deep in the mountains? What brings them back year after year and causes some of them to stay forever?

I think about this a lot. I believe it has to do with the expansiveness of the day – the joining of disparate, yet kindred people –if only for a day, and the feeling that all is well. But also, the party offers a symbolism that speaks to our wider community. The knowledge we live in a special place – a fabric of many threads, made stronger by the singular nature of our strings.

For Paul, on his sixty-fifth Birthday on Thursday. Thank you for years of friendship and for just being you.


Paul manning the pizza oven, July 5, Anderson Branch 2014


Laurie Pedersen (left), the Keyboard Player from the Band and his son (right).


Don Gurewitz (left), Mary Eagle (right).

Untitled, Anderson Branch, July 5, 2014


Holly Cosby (left), Tommy, Holly and Matt (right).


ShatterZone - a Fiction


Jeff Johnson and John Henderson Moving Tobacco to the Casing House, Big Pine, Madison County, NC, 1978

It seems so long ago.
And I suppose it was.
When we were new to this place.
And the place new to us.

Not yet knowing how to act,
Or what to say.
How to be a good neighbor?
What it means to be in a community.

We offer help.
It’s clear they need it.
Children have moved off.
And the Mexicans have yet to arrive.

I help also to learn the place, and test myself.
To see if I could be all day in a field, 90 degrees,
Sweating and sticky from the tar.
Me of the soft hands and clerk’s body.

In those days, help meant tobacco.
It’s what was here. Lots of it.
The lifeblood of the county.
Everyone had a hand in it.

Working with a group, there wasn’t a better time.
Talking, laughing, teasing, forming a bond.
And the tobacco we cut . . . At the end of the day,
We’d marvel at what we accomplished.