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Archive for May, 2010

Laurel Lodge

The living room at Laurel Lodge.

I am still savoring Tuesday night, which I spent at this wonderful place. If you have any excuse to go to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, try to stay overnight at Laurel Lodge. This inn wows me every time I visit. Innkeepers Chris Craig and Ed Wheeless have restored it impeccably and furnished it with beautiful Mission and Adirondack pieces. I love everything about this inn — its understated elegance, the delicious breakfasts and locally roasted coffee, the quiet neighborhood, and the view from the porch that overlooks the Potomac River.

The porch that overlooks the Potomac River.

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Downtown Charleston, West Virginia.

Does it mean, “Two steps forward, one step back?” “Do-si-do?” Couldn’t they find a walker facing in the direction they intended? Maybe the walkers on these signs always aim for the left, and I just never noticed it. At any rate, I think this sign expresses exactly the way I feel on some days. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.

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Colleen Anderson, Julie Adams, and Karen Vuranch, the POTLUCK ladies.

On May 15, we POTLUCK ladies presented our one-hour show at the Randolph County Creative Arts Center to one of the warmest and friendliest audiences we have ever enjoyed. Karen, Julie, and I love to perform this show. It’s about an hour long and consists of stories and songs inspired by and celebrating food, women, community, and the connections between them. It includes some heartwarming memories and songs, some utter silliness, and a lot of love. After our POTLUCK set, we performed a short set of songs inspired by our other favorite topic, West Virginia.

The Randolph County Creative Arts Center (not to mention the artsy town of Elkins!) is a wonderful place. Director Beth King goes all out to make performers feel valued and comfortable. She even accompanied us to a couple of school performances in Harman, WV on Friday, a courtesy we really appreciated. One of her volunteers, Jane Birdsong, cooked us a fantastic salmon dinner on Saturday afternoon, and other board members brought delicious salads and other treats. They even saved us generous servings of Jane’s homemade peach/cherry cobbler for dessert after the concert.

As you can see, we were dressed in finery. The creator of our capes and chiffon jackets, as well as the backdrops made of silk crepe de chine, is Michael Davis, the owner of Shibori West Textile Designs in Elkins.

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Misty morning in Cathedral State Park

For the past few days, I have been in one of my favorite West Virginia places, the town of Aurora, attending the third Aurora Spring Writers’ Retreat. Once again, I have enjoyed several luxurious days in which to be renewed by solitude and nature, nourished by gourmet meals, and energized by the company of several other writers. At these retreats, we are on our own for most of the daylight hours, except for mealtimes. In the evenings, we are more social, and usually give informal readings.

After a few sunny days, the weather has turned cloudy, and today I have been walking in mist and (sometimes) rain. Somehow the wet weather made Cathedral State Park even more beautiful. Within the past couple of days, many jack-in-the-pulpits have sprung up. Here’s a look at three that are just unfurling themselves. I love the way their leaves are folded, almost like origami:

Cathedral State Park is very small, but it’s one of just a few places in the state where the huge hemlocks have never been timbered. That’s how the park got its name, from the huge trees that resemble the supporting columns in a cathedral. It’s a very small park; in less than two hours, you can walk every single trail in the park, crossing this little creek quite a few times in the process.

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