24th April, 2014.
It’s raining in Asheville, North Carolina. We’ve slept a night with Junebird, sweet sweet angel – takes us out drinking cocktails and eating cookies. She is 21 – has more energy than we can muster, unbridled youth and uncensored enthusiasm. She asks if we still play hopscotch.
We’ve kissed our goodbyes, and felt the genuine beat of kindness shiver. Another stranger bending over backwards to look out for us. Another light of eccentricity.
We are slumped in our car, debating whether to head to Snaggy Mountain tonight, or tomorrow morning. It’s the next address on our list of communities to visit, and we know very little about it. I’m eating a pot of beetroots, staring at the rain, and imagining that I like the option that involves us not having to meet a whole new world of strangers tonight. Not having to pitch our tent. I’m imagining lying dormant in a motel and playing my guitar in exhaustion to the wall.
But over at Snaggy, JoJo has other ideas. He phones a couple of times to tell us they are having a party. Then to let us know they are making pizza. When Harper is kind enough to tell me that we don’t have to go, he phones again – ‘There’s a bed indoors for y’all if you want.’ I’m paying attention to intuition. My heart knows a sign.
In hindsight, I can tell it’s one of those moments in life of chapter turning, synchronicity. We’re batheing in the calmness before the glorious storm.
As soon as we pull onto the freeway the rain stops dead in the fading evening. We sing Lana Del Rey songs and feel the energy begin to rise. More giggly by the minute, get lost, knock on neighbours’, pull into a driveway, past a wind turbine, a woodshed, and a collection of pick-up trucks.
Silhouettes, names, faces I can’t see. Pretty people draped on sofas, tree branches braided ’round doorways, murals narrated on every wall. JoJo in the kitchen with a German couchsurfer, JoJo in his truck driving us up the hill to his hideaway by night-time, JoJo drinking from a huge Kilner jar. He’s kind. Everyone here is kind. I watch the men hugging each other, the girls moving forth to greet us – beautiful English sisters, magical musicians. People emerge from rooms and disappear round corners.
She’s having a massage.
I get up and start dancing in the middle of the sofas with the girls. Someone’s playing old disco songs. We dissolve into the beauty around us, laugh, copy each others’ moves, pour back beers. It feels like I have fifteen new best friends.
In the morning I waft around for a while in a long dress, and write these words down in my journal:
This place is on fire.
We walk, roam the property,
meet you up on the hill,
wearing our beds, wearing our beds.
For the next few days, life consists of roaming. My heart is racing, I am in love with everything. I can barely eat, barely feel the heat of North Carolina burn my arms, peel my nose. I feel sick with magic. Harper and I write songs in an abandoned bus, feel the love between us, take care of each other.
We drink beer and watch shooting stars blaze trails across the night. Dance like hippies in the rafters at band practice. Hike up to JoJo’s for sunrise and make music videos as the sky grows light over Mount Cilo. This man has poured his magic all over his grandfather’s farm, eats dandelions, picks banjo, plays accordion to the trees.
We left Snaggy Mounain with the promise to return in four days. We had to change our plans, had to hang on a moment more. Both utterly under spell, we now think, talk, breathe, and dream of Snaggy and the men and women who walk there.