The January 19th meeting of the Alleghany Writers was a confirmation that there is a genuine interest in building a writers community in Sparta. We had returning writers, a few new writers, and some emails from other writers confirming that they plan to come in future months. Email me if you want more information on the group or to be added to our mailing list. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month there was poetry, sharing online resources and the decision to move to the Alleghany Library beginning with the February 16th meeting. The library is located at 112 Atwood, in the same building as the Sparta campus of WCC, and the Blue Ridge Business Development Center. It is big, and beautiful, and a wonderful space for writers.
Doug showing the best thing to do in a library…….read.
There was also announcement of upcoming events. Details coming this spring.
New River Poetry Competition – Call for entries in early April. Awards Finale, May 13, 2017
Working Writer Poetry & Writing Workshops May 12 & 13
On the program at each meeting is the “prompt” exercise. Someone provides an opening line, or a situation. Writers are encouraged to take that prompt and see where the writing takes you. Attendees are invited to read their piece at the next meeting, but there is no pressure to read if it’s not your thing. There is a three minute limit for readings and we set aside time for discussion.
At the December meeting we decided on this prompt:
It’s dusk. You stop along the side of the road to look at the scenery.
You hear a tap, tap, tap that seems to be coming from the woods.
You see a pine needle path that leads in the direction of the sound.
This is my tap, tap, tap story –
We took the interstate to the auction, but came home on the back roads. After a weekend of work we deserved a scenic drive to relax. The late afternoon sky was predicting a beautiful sunset, and it was time for a stretch and a rummage through the back seat basket. Lou and I made so many of these road trips we had developed a habit of the sunset snack. If there was a scenic place to stop and watch a sunset, we would celebrate it with a rest and a nibble.
Lou backed in the truck and dropped the tailgate. He headed to the woods for a pit stop and I pulled out the basket of snacks. I stretched a tea towel over a section of the back and pulled out the cheese and crackers, thankful for how the wrapped sleeve of biscuits and the wax covered cheese made for a mess-free set up. A tin of smoked oysters finished the menu. I pulled out a couple of wine singles from the cooler and considered our sunset nosh to be ready.
Lou was back quicker than usual. His face had a puzzled look, and he kept turning around to the woods as he walked forward.
“Did you hear that?” A thread of fear laced through his question. I turned around to see that his faced matched his tone. In the year we had been dating I rarely saw Lou in a situation he did not dominate, so this was an unfamiliar scene for me.
“That tapping,” he said. “Did you hear it?”
“Sorry. I was setting the table. Didn’t hear a thing.”
“It was a tapping sound. Like metal on metal. A click. I couldn’t tell if it was random or a code.” Lou’s voice carried the suspense of someone imagining the plot of a paperback thriller coming to life on a wooded roadside.
“Yes, code. Like Morse Code. I think I recognized a word or two.”
I took in this new side of his personality. Excited over a rare find at an estate sale? Sure. But I never thought of Lou as someone interested in investigating sounds on the wind.
I handed him the bottle of wine and held mine up for a toast. After the ceremonial clink I asked, “So, do you want to end our weekend with a little exploring?”
Apparently my city dwelling, luxury loving boyfriend was more adventurous than I had imagined. He took a long sip of wine, and turned towards the woods. “Follow me,” he said, reaching his hand back to grasp mine. “Stay on the pine needles. That’s the path in.”
As we entered the cluster of trees I began to hear the sound. Very faint, so faint I wondered how Lou had even heard it. But he was right. There was a tapping, and it did sound like code.
The level path led to a steep drop off, opening up to a view of the valley below. Lou pointed to the large pine tree growing into the hillside on our left. That’s where we saw him, perched on rock surrounded by a clump of roots from a fallen tree. He had a radio in one hand, and was tapping out Morse Code with the other. After a moment of surprise on both our parts, he waved us over. We learned that our phantom tapper was a ham radio operator trying to make a last few contacts for National Parks On The Air, a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks Service.
Our drive home was filled with stories of Lou’s fascination with amateur radio. Summers with his grandfather, learning Morse Code and talking with people across the county and around the world. I listened as he shared, knowing that our relationship had taken a step forward. All because I was willing to go down a path in the woods in search of a tap, tap, tap.