I was invited to teach at the Alabama Folk School Old Time Session this spring. That event happened this past weekend, and as always, ole Patrick decided to kill a couple birds with one stone. Took more than one stone, as it turned out.
I usually pick up a load of clay in Alabama once a year or so. The clay pit was fairly close to the Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell, a beautiful facility owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, at which my class was being taught. Perfect.
My preparations were timely, unusual as that may sound to you who know me. I bought new tires and wheels for the dump trailer, and had it ready to go on Friday before our Tuesday departure. I changed mandolin strings, guitar strings, packed my clothes, and was ready to head for Alabama on Monday! A real first. Even Janice, Logistics Queen that she is, was impressed. This was gonna' be fun.
First on the Tuesday agenda was to pick up a new pottery kiln for Jerry Brown's cousin. That had been a little techious, as anything having to do with Jerry and kin can become. It takes a week to build for the factory to build a kiln. Jerry had relayed this message to Ole Cuz when he called Jerry to see if I could/would deliver the kiln, as I was coming to Jerry's, anyway.
Now, Jerry told Cuz that the factory requires a week lead time more than a month ago, but ole Cuz didn't decide he was really ready to deal until Thurs. afternoon before my planned departure on Tuesday following.. That gave the folks building the kiln two working days to build a package the kiln.
Luck would have it they had one started, for someone else, so that all worked. We arrived at the kiln factory Tuesday, and sho nuff, a gleaming new computer operated kiln was sitting on the loading dock. They fork lifted into the trailer and down I 85 through Atlanta and on to a farm visit with on of my garlic customers.
Harry Stacy runs a "You Pick" strawberry farm. Strawberries stop bearing about the first of June. This leaves the rest of the summer for him to grow "row crops". Harry got interested in garlic because everyone at the farmers market asked for it. His first attempt at growing wasn't successful. He decided to try again this year, and wants to grow "under plastic". Garlic does not like competition from weeds, and Harry sure doesn't have time to weed it, so he's planting under plastic. I'm sure you've seen fields of tomatoes or peppers grown this way, but I've never heard of anyone farming garlic this way. The above video gives you and idea of how this works. Pretty amazing to watch. I can't wait to see if it works.
On to see Jerry Brown and his wife Sandra. It's always an experience. We enjoy our infrequent visits with Jerry and Sandra. Never a dull moment the kids and grandkids, in laws, out laws and kinlins, plus a healthy dose of tourists come to look at pottery from the Interstate, and local characters dropping in.
We've been going over there for some 20 years, having met Jerry at the National Folk Festival in Chattanooga, TN. Jerry invited us to come visit and learn how he made pottery all those years ago, and we still go. He's a 9th generation, and a National Heritage Fellow; good qualifications for a Mentor.
Right about here the wheels start to come off this trip. I got the sniffles, and still had them when I checked at Camp McDowell on Thursday, but didn't feel bad.
That evening, after supper, I had three eager beginners ready to tear into some new tunes. Wasn't gonna' be no downtime with this bunch! Friday it turned cold, and Friday night we had frost. Nose still a dripping. Saturday, I was a little slow. Saturday afternoon I felt like I'd been given one of those witches' brews left over from Halloween. I took to my bed. I missed the instructors concert Sat night. I didn't want anyone exposed to my Halloween bug.
Sunday morning I was slow, but functioning. We wrapped up our class, i kept them 10 feet away. We chose a tune for the student concert which they performed brilliantly. We waved goodbye. No hugging, or handshakes. The whole weekend was a blur.
We made it home Sunday night, wore slap out, both of us. The cat met us in the driveway, happy to see us, but bitching about leaving her out in the cold world alone. She'll get over it.
Garlics up, garden trashed. I was looking forward to some of the late purple hull peas...but I knew the job was dangerous when I planted them.