I originally intended this little vignette solely as a written piece, but when my co-creator read it, he just had to lend his fantastic voice.
October comes to Appalachia with chill, damp mornings and mostly balmy afternoons sliced through with a crisp breeze and the rustling of leaves. She sets the woods ablaze with a riot of russet color — reds and oranges and yellows and browns of every shade — and blows the sweet aroma of woodsmoke through the hollers of an evening. This October comes with a Harvest Moon, hanging full and swollen and bright over Appalachia, shining her light into every holler and branch. The full moon sings in the blood of the very Green itself, and of course, those touched by it.
In Esau County, Virginia, it finds young Deeley Hubbard in her family home in Boggs Holler. She’s in the yard out back of the cozy house left to her by her mamaw, Glory Ann Boggs, setting out Mason jars full of fresh, clean spring water on an old stump in the yard. From a branch of the twisty old apple tree, she hangs a little charm she’s made for a young couple in town who, despite their most enthusiastic efforts, have found themselves unable to conceive a child.
Deeley hasn’t lived in Esau County long, and though many of the older folks seem hesitant to rely on her just yet — which just makes good sense; she’s still learning the healer’s craft, after all, studying the books and notes her mamaw left behind — those closer to her age have been more willing, and she’s found a pretty warm welcome overall. Her daddy’s cousins, the Bledsoes, have been particularly kind, driving out to introduce themselves as soon as the word was out that she’d come to live in Boggs Holler, and regaling her with funny stories about her daddy growing up. She feels a sense of home — of roots — here that she’s never felt before.
It’s a cool night — the first real cool night of the season — but Deeley doesn’t mind the chill. She smiles as she gazes up at the glowing orb in the clear, velvety dark sky. Despite the late hour, she’s wide awake and full of vigor — she’s still a young girl, after all — and when the moon calls, she answers, leaving the yard behind to run into the familiar woods that surround the Boggs property. She need not fear the woods here — this is home, and this patch of Green watches over its own.
A ways south, a dozen or so miles outside Baker’s Gap, Tennessee, Marcie and Ellie Walker have made similar preparations, restocking the contents of a particular cupboard in the big kitchen pantry of the imposing log house known officially as Pleasant Evenings Enterprises, and locally as simply The Walker House. The various tools of their work set out to soak up the blessings of the Hunter’s Moon, the two sisters sit in rocking chairs on the back porch of the Walker House, and they listen.
From a few miles off, up in the woods, they hear it: the singing of wolves. Marcie and Ellie listen intently for a moment, neither speaking, ears attentive to every howl and yip, every nuance and tone of that feral chorus… and then they relax. The voices of wolves are sonorous, and tend to echo — it’s hard to know for sure what direction they’re coming from — but the Walker sisters have kept a watchful eye on this situation for a good many years, and they’ve learned the trick of it. The song they hear isn’t coming from the abandoned, overgrown holler known as the Clutch, nor does it sound like the hunting song — the blood song — they’d once learned to dread. It’s a song of kinship. Somebody’s found a shape that feels like home — and a family to share that with — and that’s always cause to celebrate. They’re just kicking their heels up a little bit is all. And good for them.
And speaking of kicking up their heels — “It’s an awful nice night, Ellie,” Marcie says. “I think I might pour myself a little sip of that apple wine Miz Lunsford traded us for the eggs last week. Fancy a glass?”
Her sister smiles, stretches her legs and props her heels up on the porch rail. “I think I might have a drop or two, yes,” Ellie says, reaching into her coat pocket for her pipe and tobacco. “It is a damn fine night.”
Marcie returns from the kitchen a few minutes later, holding two jelly jars about half filled with their neighbor’s tasty home brewed apple wine between two fingers. She’s draped two quilts over the other arm — fine night or no, it’s a bit chilly out on the porch — and hands one of each to Ellie. Cozy and content, the sisters settle in to enjoy the night, and the moon, and the chorus of eerie and beautiful lupine voices.
And in the hills and hollers around Bakers Gap, the wolves run, full tilt and full of joy — the joy of the hunt, the joy of the pack, the joy of the moon-called Green.