Friday, October 2, 2009

my new dulcimer

Ever since I saw them on the shop walls of Wood-n-Strings in Tennessee, I've wanted a Walnut Creek dulcimer. I finally was able to get one, and she's beautiful. She has a richer tone that resonates in her larger body. When I ordered it, I asked for a redgum wood top and deer sound holes. You know me...always looking for my antlers.

I've been on quite the dulc kick lately. Probably because I'm planning this beginner's workshop next weekend, but also because as October rises my thoughts of the Smoky Mountains rise alongside. Last weekend was the Old Timers' Festival down in the park and I wasn't there. I wasn't at the grist mill, or sprawled out in the high grass of the cove. I wasn't hiking up to the Balds or standing on top of Chimney Tops. I have an old postcard of Chimney Tops at my desk at work. Sometimes when I glance up at it it turns into shrapnel. Hitting me hard, by accident, reminding me how far I am from home. Which is a ridiculous thing to say, having grown up in the Northeast my whole life. But some things can't be helped. You love what you love, and while finding a new home here where sap runs and creeks freeze...i'll keep playing mountain music. It'll keep the memories of that great state heavy. I learned I'll Fly Away last night. Sitting in front of the fire on a quilt and strumming that tune made me forget a lot of things. Sometimes, that's a blessing.

Living in New England, it's not uncommon to hear the occasional crack about the south. It's an easy scapegoat for mockery—always a stupid comment duct-taped to a corny accent. It used to insult me. Once a coworker actually said "Aren't you glad you escaped Tennessee" and had I hackles to raise, they would've. Now whenever anyone mentions Tennessee (even in jest) it feels like a how you remember falling in love for the first time, all hollow and warm.

Which, Incidentally, is what a good dulcimer sounds like. So the combination of a broken heart for a state that hardly remembers my footsteps and that sweet music warm me up tonight. I don't mind feeling hollow if it's warm. Even while the rain falls and fireplace remains ashes: I'll fly away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I wish I could hear you play -we love Bluegrass music -my husband is from Kentucky. It always makes you feel good to hear it. Maybe someday soon I'll learn to play my madolin I got last christmas.

October 2, 2009 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger Slice of life said...

beautifully written. I have been enjoying you blog for a few weeks now.

Your writting is engrossing.

Love the blog. I will be back!

October 3, 2009 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Beautifully written as always!

October 3, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger Harvest Home said...

Thank you for this..

No one wouldn't understand unless they lived in TN..

And for those folks that make fun of us Southerns .. well all I got to say is " Bless their Hearts they just don't know any better"

Born and raised and still living in TN

October 3, 2009 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Dawn Dutton said...

Jenna, I love your new Mandoline. It is beautiful. Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough to hear you play it. The workmanship is just beautiful. Congratulations...

October 3, 2009 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful instrument, and what beautiful sentiments you've expressed. I'm always soothed by the way you write...kinda like listening to Garrison Keillor speak. :-)

(Speaking of home and writing, I'm just diving into Georgia Heard's Writing Toward Home as I limber up my writing chops for NaNoWriMo. Ack! ;-)

October 3, 2009 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

My aunt played a mean piano and I used to sit on the bench and sing with her...she was from Tennessee and I remember her picking up the harmony on I'll Fly Away...
And the new dulcimer is a beauty!
What a great back-into-October gift!!

October 3, 2009 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

"always a stupid comment duct-taped to a corny accent."

Thanks for this. I'm not even really FROM the south, but I've been here an awfully long time now, and I've come to love it in a way that makes these remarks hurt me too. Don't get me wrong, Texas is uber-quirky, and there's lots to poke fun at, but we're not stupid, or backwards.

Tennessee is a wonderful place. Harvest Home is right - they just don't know any better.

October 3, 2009 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Love your new toy...Tennessee Is a great place with great people...including my dear Grandma, the most wonderful woman I have ever known.

October 3, 2009 at 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the south is something you can either abide or not. It's a different world down here. It runs on its own clock and calendar and has its own language. I've lived in TN, CO, OR, CA, NY, NJ, WI and LA and have been utterly miserable during my years in the south.

But living in the hill country is decidedly different than the urban south where I have spent my time. I can see places in TN where I would like to live, but am stuck in an urban environment that is just awful. So, if I ever get out of here, I will answer yes, I am glad to have escaped Tennessee, just as I say I am glad to have escaped California.

October 3, 2009 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger ClarissaA said...

Most of my family is from KY & TN and I know what you mean about the comments. My family there are both the smartest and corniest people I've ever met.
I love the new dulcimer. I really love the sound and wish I was able to join you for the workshop. Oh well one of these days.

October 3, 2009 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Funny Ernie said...

I love "I'll fly away". I learned parts of "Yankee Doodle" last night on the banjo I finally got ahold of. So much fun. I can hardly wait for the day I can play I'll Fly Away.

October 3, 2009 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

Being from Middle Tennessee (now residing in North Georgia near the line in Chattanooga), I know how it is. I got those cracks when I lived in the Northwest. I swore to them that although I understand the stereotypes of the South, no one could understand the beauty of it until they went there to visit. Glad someone who is not a born-and-bred southerner understands the beauty of the South and considers it home.

Also, I would love to hear you play I'll Fly Away. I'm a non-believer, but I was brought up Southern Baptist. It is still one of my favorite gospel/hymns of all time, along with Precious Memories.

October 3, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the dulcimer, Jenna! Great post as well.

I have only been to TN once, but there was something about the place that stuck with me long after leaving - a hard-to-explain everlasting beauty.

Good luck next weekend with the strum-and-cluck workshop. I will be in Shaftsbury, VT, for a class.

October 3, 2009 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Hey Jenna,
Beautiful post and dulcimer. It looks hand crafted and I don't care where you're from, that's the best way to go!
I've lived a bunch of my life in the south and more in the Northeast. I love it here and although I was not born a New Englander, I consider myself one through and through. I think it's a place, almost a memory that speaks to you about that place that makes it home, not where you had the fortune to be born.
And hey, the comments are a sign of ignorance as much as the "damned yankees" comments are about us down south. I heard plenty of those when I was there, people who are still living in the civil war in their minds. We're all just part of one big melting pot in our country and I consider myself an American first and a New Englander second.

You should record yourself playing a song and post for us, I know we'd all love to hear you! ~Vonnie H.

October 3, 2009 at 2:15 PM  
Blogger René said...

Lovely post. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

October 3, 2009 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

Ever heard Tennessee Jed? I was at this show:

See you saturday!

October 3, 2009 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger motheralice said...

Hey Jenna, just bounced in for the first time. Reading your book brings back all the ideas my D/h and I had plans for years ago. We had to give up (or drastically scale back) because we tried to start with everything at once, in September no less... what a fiasco. Thanks for reminding me that it can be done, if only one uses one's brain!

As far as Yankee comments about the south, my Kentucky family would say the Indigo Girls had it right: "When God made me born a yankee he was teasin'". ;) The South is just as strange and beautiful as the North (or East or West), most folks just don't know it. *grins*

October 3, 2009 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger motheralice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

October 3, 2009 at 9:17 PM  
Blogger Harvest Home said...

I wanted to add...

I visited my cousin's up in NH a few years ago.. the town, the land.. the ocean .. everything about it was wonderful..

If I didn't live in TN,New England would be my home..

October 4, 2009 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Karen L. said...

Jenna, Really beautiful dulcimer! My Dad made one many years ago but eventually sold it. Sure wish I could find that person to buy it back! He was a master woodworker and even had plans to make a harp but, sadly, never got to do that. He did build an 8-harness floor loom though. And by the way, he lived all his life in Southern NJ!!! Hmmm, does that make him Southern? Have a great time with your new instrument. Have enjoyed reading your blog.

October 4, 2009 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Spring Lake Farm said...

Jenna - While in Tennessee, did you ever hike to LeConte Lodge? My family started hiking Mt. LeConte when I was 13 and now, 30+ years later, my parents, children and on the next trip my granddaughter are still going. It's one of the most beautiful and spiritual places I have ever been. If you didn't get a chance to go, you need to put it on the list.

When I hear people make fun of the south I just smile and think "They just don't know no better!" ;)

October 5, 2009 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger tanker24load said...

I'm looking into learning the dulcimer. What's a good starter dulcimer that won't kill the bank account?

October 5, 2009 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

i suggest an apple creek or the TK o'brien syudent model. check craggy mountain music online!

October 6, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Curtis said...

Very nice looking dulcimer Jenna.

After reading your book have decided to learn to play an instrument. Is the dulcimer easier to learn than the guitar?

October 9, 2009 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

My first Dulcimer was a Walnut Creek kit. I have since made 15, including one Scheitholt. I absolutely love dulcimers; building, and playing. My latest, completed in November, is a Dogwood and matches my Walnut Creek in looks and sound. I am now completing one for my brother, using walnut he provided. I need deer sound-holes, and that's how I found your Blog. I enjoy it, and will continue to follow.

December 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM  

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