Laboring far into the hills and then mountains of North Georgia, our little Vibe trudged along Cherokee trails now paved and widened to accommodate modern traffic. Tendrils of fog rose along the ridges to meet the low clouds – the smoke rising from the unseen rivers and streams fed by springs flowing down toward the Savannah river far below while the water vapor rose to the sky. The deep greens of evergreen needles, the verdant mixes of intense greens and whites of newly budding trees, the greys of the worn rocks, still deeper brown-grey of the shadows deep within the pushing forests lined our way. We passed by tiny towns and crossroads, weathered barns, quarries, homes built in the 50’s when the old timers’ children grew, married, and came home. National forests abutting these farms trying to erase the Trail of Tears begun near here. The Cherokee names of places honoring the ravaged people who once held plantations, churches, school, and a self governance here. The beauty of the land so deeply juxtaposed to such a cruelly ignoble act. We broke free of the indian trail just as the clouds pulled away.
Sunlight brought us to LaFayette. The city in a high meadow plateau of the Appalachia mountain chain. A few more turns and a narrow curvy road later there we were in front of a sign “Earthskills Workshops” neatly router cut into an old oak board. We passed a buffalo in a pen, bumped over a little stream running across the road, and rounded a field to see canvas tents, tee pees, and pop-up tents. We ended up happily registered by friendly informative folks who told us to just find a spot to set-up the tent. No worries about where, when, or how.
The “it’s ok” phrase passed with a slight shrug of the shoulders became our mantra for the week. A little late – no worries, this class isn’t working for you – no worries, what ever makes you happy. It’s OK. It took me a couple of days to rest into the very free-form pattern of life at the Rendevous. (No surprise for those of you who know how deeply annal I can be.)
We walked the ground. Not only were we surrounded by the mountains all the way around but score – Showers, composting and “blue water” toilets, hand sanitizer, potable water, well equipped kitchen, tents for classes and lots of woods in which to wander.
We set up the tent on a terrace in a field about 600 yards from the main fire. Tucked here, there and every where were tents and debris shelters, tee pees (not so tucked) and Civil War style tents, campers and cars. Each representing participants and instructors. About 75 sites in all.
The pattern of the day became. Up with the birds, shiver to the kitchen’s fire pit and talk or listen to others, eat, clean-up, and then off to morning circle. Deciding what classes to amble over to came next, listen to the conch horn as it was blown for lunch break, amble off to find lunch, listen to the conch horn to single the afternoon classes, break for dinner, come back to the fire as the evening cooled off and listen to the drumming or the story-teller or talk with acquaintances. The pattern was good, fulfilling, and hard.
The kids crossed my path occasionally off with their new friends or classes. They finished their day late in the evening after chasing each other through the dark. Tired they fell into their sleeping bags and right asleep.