October light

Fall is here in West Virginia… after a rudely hot summer that appeared to have no end, like a circus it packed up and left in the night and Autumn arrived with a gorgeous full harvest moon. For me it means a return to teaching and projects after wonderful summer travels to Wallowa County, Oregon, where Bob and I taught at Wallowa Fiddle Tunes camp and joined our friends at the Summer Fishtrap Gathering. We made a cross-country drive returning through Glacier NP and Bear’s Paw Nat’l Battlefield and later I took a solo trip to Seattle and the Pacific Coast of Washington, and reveled in daily sightings of The Mountain.

We love the birds at this time of year… we’ve had a resident catbird singing his little head off in the tall oak tree. There’s a pair of something we can’t identify (we don’t actually see them) chortling daily to greet our chilly mornings. The leaves are coloring and letting go, while there’s a gentle golden light filtering through the trees. Dark comes not long after 7:00 pm– seems so early. Bob’s got his projects in the recording studio, several folks making CDs with his help… he’s also building box dulcimers for our school workshops coming right up in Pocahontas County. We’ve handed the Music Mentors program at the East End Family Resource Center to two young teachers who are coming over for dulcimer lessons, so they can keep the tradition going that we started five years ago. They already got new African drums this past summer so the place is hoppin’.

With the onset of autumn, I’ve been pondering how to “be” more in the midst of all my “doing.” Every week I spend a day teaching elementary and middle school children guitar and dulcimer in a town in the southern coalfields. I have a new dulcimer class in Charleston with eight feisty ladies, plus continuing lessons. It’s my turn to lead the Almost Heaven Dulcimer Club into Christmas music while our other teacher, Dave Haas, is busy with his prison ministry. There are performances popping up all over, especially this coming week… and I also have just taken the position of being Music Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation here in Charleston, so add Sunday service music to the mix. It all feels good. I love the vibrant activity of it all, and this week we travel out to Marlinton two different times for teaching and performing, where we can drive past the fall colors of the higher mountains… So even though I love all this “doing” — it’s a gift to be able to make a living with music, and open people up to the music in themselves — the task for me is to keep watch on how I spend my in-between time, so I can maintain a quiet center and not lose myself in busyness and organization. Remember before computers, the way we used to renew ourselves? Reading, sewing, walking in the woods… October is the perfect time to visit the birds, watch the leaves drift down like feathers, and soak up the golden light of autumn.

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