The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:28 am Thursday, March 1, 2018


By N. R. Tucker

It might rain, but then again, it might not. The morning is cloudy with high humidity and a temperature higher than usual for North Carolina in February. We grab our small day packs to hold water and an emergency kit and drive. The goal: walk the completed portion of the mountain-to-sea trail (MST) in Elkin. It’s under three miles on a flat well-maintained surface. A nice walk before meeting family in the area for lunch.

When finished, the MST will run from Clingmans Dome to the Outer Banks. In Elkin, trail signs start at the intersection of Main Street and East Market Street for a stroll through downtown, past the library, and into the Elkin Recreation Center Park. Although not part of the MST, there is a loop around the Elkin Reservoir that returns to the park. Otherwise, it’s an out and back trail.

Past the rec center, we walk under the first of two overpasses and into the woods. This portion of the trail follows the relaxing sounds of Elkin Creek. Moss and lichen on the trees provide visual points of interest even during winter and bluets pop up every so often for a splash of color. We cross the first bridge just past the shoe factory dam. The trail continues through an open field with the Highway 268 bypass overhead. As the grassland gives way to hills and gullies, the first of two gongs come into view. The gongs are a fun way to announce your accomplishment on the trail.

Crossing the second bridge over the Elkin Creek, the moss and lichen continue to impress, while the trees serve as structural art. The second gong comes into view with the creek on one side and the reservoir on the other. Due to the heavy rains of the past week, the Elkin Reservoir Loop is closed, but that doesn’t spoil our fun. We turn left on Rustic Trail, continuing to walk beside the creek for a while. Rustic Trail is hilly but not strenuous. With eye-catching scenery and the sounds of nature, it’s easy to forget the trail is in town.

We leave the creek and rejoin the MST following a wooded path that halts at a ravine where, for now, the trail ends. We return the way we came, pleased with our outing and looking forward to when the next portion of the MST opens. The clouds didn’t turn to rain but instead made for some eerily beautiful photos.

While North Carolina is known for easy access to mountains and the ocean, mountain vistas and seascapes are not all nature has to offer. It’s time to find another local trail and enjoy nature.


By Julie Terry Cartner

Of all the months in the calendar year,

February must be the one most unclear.

The month of love with hearts and flowers.

And yet often we’re under flu and cold’s evil powers.

One moment of sunshine, another of snow,

Ice on the roadways, while nearby, flowers grow.

One day below freezing, the next, a summer heat blast,

No wonder our tissue supply seems never to last!

Boots to wear one day, followed by two with flip-flops,

Sweaters and coats, then your favorite crop tops.

Peering through snow covered branches, a pink

   Camilla blooms,

Filling the winter air with the sweetest of perfumes.

This month reflects life with its ups and downs,

Life that is filled with smiles and frowns.

So remember, my friend, whatever may be,

Relax, ride the ride, for today soon will flee,

Replaced by tomorrow, and then we shall see.

So remember, my friend, don’t live in the past,

Each moment, a lifetime, but it moves by so fast,

And we never are certain of the future’s forecast.

“The Land Beyond the Sea”

Part 4

By Linda Barnette

I continued to hear the dulcimer music, and when I told Black Arrow about it, he said that we would try to discover where it was coming from. So we packed enough food for one day and set out early the next morning to begin our search.  Because the terrain was hilly and rough, we had to be careful not to slip and fall into a stream or a ravine.  We walked for a very long time, or so it seemed, and just kept going through woods.  We saw nothing like a cabin or anything else that indicated civilization.  When the sun started to get low in the sky, we headed back to the village.

A few weeks later I heard the music again, and it seemed closer than ever before.  So we set out once again to find its source. The journey was more difficult this time because I fell from a cliff and hit my head on some rocks. I was so far down that Black Arrow could not reach me. I drifted in and out of consciousness and eventually woke up to see a show-white deer standing over me.  She bent down on her knees and allowed me to climb up on her back.  She carried me for a few miles, and Black Arrow followed. The white deer walked up to a cabin, and a woman came out.  It was my grandmother!  I could hardly believe that what was happening was real!  She and Black Arrow lifted me from the deer’s back and carried me inside the cabin where my parents were doing chores.  What a wonderful reunion we had with lots of hugs and kisses and questions.

After our initial reunion, I asked about my grandfather, who was not in the house with the others.  Grandmother told me that he had died from smallpox earlier that year. I told her about hearing the dulcimer, but she told me that was not possible and that I had just dreamed it up.  “You know that we don’t believe in supernatural events or in spirits, Bonnie.  It’s against our religion,” she scolded gently.

Meanwhile, the family thanked Black Arrow for bring me home safely even though they were also shocked by his appearance and his demeanor.  Almost everything they had heard about Indians portrayed them as savages.  When I started to feel better, my parents, grandmother, and I followed Black Arrow back home, and he introduced them to his family.  He told them about the dulcimer music, the fall, the white deer, and about meeting my parents.  Both families were very happy about the outcome of the situation, and, strange as it may seem, they all became friends.  We even helped them out during the winter when food was scarce.

One evening that next spring we were all together in the cabin when we heard our dog Scottie barking frantically, so we all ran outside.  As we looked at Scottie, he was suddenly quiet, his eyes transfixed into the eyes of the dazzling white deer standing before him. Soon the deer vanished into the forest, and all of us heard a faint melody playing in the background.   As the music drifted closer, we realized that it was the hauntingly beautiful sound of Grandfather’s dulcimer playing the ballad that he had written while traveling down the Great Wagon Road, our much-loved ballad “The Land Across the Sea.”  Grandmother and the others slowly turned towards Bonnie while she closed her eyes and hummed the melody she had grown to love so much, which went as follows:

Farewell, farewell, ye cliffs and hills,

The rivers running free.

We are going on a journey

To a land beyond the sea.

What we will find and where to live

We leave to God above.

We are going on a journey

To a land beyond the sea.

Now the journey it has ended

And home right here we are

We love our new homeland

New settlers that we are.

We remember the old homeland,

The rivers running free,

But our home in Carolina

Is the place we chose to be.”

From this entire experience, I learned several lessons, such as the importance of family; the fact that family does not have to be related by blood; courage to face the difficulties of life; and faith that things usually work out well with the help of God.  I continued to love music for the rest of my life and wrote several stories and songs, such as the last two verses of Grandfather’s ballad.

“The Audition”

By Stephanie Dean

In defiance of my quest for perfection, my son bucked the program and taught me a valuable lesson in the process.

My son, Wills, was 10 years old when he auditioned for a part in a Children’s Theater play called, “The Underground Railroad,” which featured Maya Angelou as narrator.

For a month, we prepared a hymn he sang acapella. Wills sounded great. The song was perfect for his young voice as he was able to sing it in perfect pitch with no accompaniment.  I was certain he had a good chance of being selected for a part.

Then came the audition.  Wills was called to the stage and greeted by 4 judges. I was caught off guard when he motioned for one judge to lean down and proceeded to whisper in the judge’s ear. Then, Wills pulled a tiny tape recorder out of his pants pocket. I was shocked.  Wills began to press the forward button, the play, the rewind, the play button again, over and over, and he couldn’t find the start of the music for which he was searching. Finally, he found the rock tune.  When the music began, Wills began to sing along with the words of the song into the microphone. He couldn’t carry the tune in a bucket. Perfectly awful.

The entire way home from the audition, I scolding him. He had ruined his audition and would never be selected. Not only that, he had disobeyed and betrayed my trust by not sharing with me his plans to sing an entirely different song. I went on and on as mothers do, certain he had ruined any chance of being a star on stage.

A few days later, when I returned home from work, I played phone messages back on my answering machine. The director, also a judge from the Children’s Theater, had left this message for Wills…

”Wills, this is Mr. Smith from the Children’s Theater, and I’m excited to let you know you have been selected for a role in our production of ‘The Underground Railroad’.”  We appreciate your audition and look forward to you joining us.”

I had to eat all my words. As it turned out later, during the production of the play, Maya Angelou messed up on her entire narration, each scene accompanied by an incorrect narrative.

But, I learned a lot—it’s not nearly as important whether you performed perfectly or whether you found success in what you did—as it is that you gave it your best try.