21st April, 2014
By Harper Cowan
In a bar in Asheville I tried my best to convince a stranger to follow
his dream and move to Mongolia. “Life is short!” I’m telling him over
a can of Mother Earth Pale Ale. “Shine your light!!” I’m telling
everyone these days.
After leaving Acorn, we camped the night in Erwin, Tennessee with a
gaggle of inspiring men taking several months to hike the entirety of
the Appalachian Trail. One of them is trail-named “Owl Bear” and at
his suggestion we spend a few hours the next day in a small town in
North Carolina called Hot Springs. We buy matching jade rings and sit
naked for an hour in a tub facing the river and a wall of bamboo
trees. When we arrive in Asheville we are well looked after by our
couchsurfing host, a bubbling hummingbird of a gal named June. She
takes us out for cocktails and cookies and to thrift stores and her
favorite farm-to-table restaurant. Asheville is a lovely place but we
don’t fare too well in cities anymore. We notice all the buzzing
lights, every drop of water, it feels strange even to be in indoors
now. We decide to leave after one night instead of two, and head on to
our next destination – a friendly looking organic farm from what
little we’ve read about it only by chance on the internet.
When we get to Snaggy Mountain it’s dark and a kind stranger guides us
up the stony steps and gives us a tour. We enter a room of pretty,
long haired girls sitting on a sofa playing ukuleles and singing
wistful melodies. My tie dye tank top blends me in to the tie dye
couch and I’m ready to stay camouflaged there but three gorgeous Brits
(Jess being one of them) coax me on to the dance floor and I’m glad
they do. We spend the night disco dancing on the living room dance
I did not expect to love any place we found so much as I love Snaggy
Mountain. Within the first hour of our stay, I felt tempted to ask if
we could stay forever. The bookshelves are brimming with things I
could spend years reading – permaculture, herbal remedies, astrology,
Castaneda, mushrooms, modern pagans and the cosmos. Hours are passed
with wholesome hobbies – juggling, guitar playing, cooking. There is a
yoga platform and a big pet pig and a Kesey-inspired bus left behind
by some wwoofers, Jess and I write the first song for our documentary
soundtrack in it.
That kind stranger that guided us up the stairs on our first night
turns out to be JoJo and I swear he radiates sunshine. You can’t look
him in the eye without smiling. He is filled to the brim with loving
kindness & he is just SO great. He teaches us about wild edibles. He
lets us watch his band practice and dance in his lofted bedroom while
he plays every instrument in the room. He lets us wake him at sunrise.
He lets us sleep under the stars on a mattress on a hill. He hugs his
friends and he tells us we look like goddesses. He can stay.
There is also Brad, possibly the most handsome man I’ve ever met.
While he’s eating some breakfast that he no doubt caught, killed, and
cooked himself, I ask him to teach me everything he knows. He says,
“My only skill is that I try.” But I can name about 500 others. The
man forages for food in the wild, and has the discipline and kindness
to not take anything more than the earth can easily replenish, even if
he hiked and searched really hard for it. He flavors his own homemade
ice cream with wild mushrooms. He’s building his house out of entirely
salvaged materials. He has a dog that looks like a hyena but acts like
a labrador with him. He washes and then pickles hundreds of ramps
(that he picked himself) and his eyes are a sparkling, bright blue. If
the king of the wild frontier and a beautiful mermaid had a love-baby
it would probably be Brad.
I’m relieved that all of these beautiful people don’t stir up in me
the kinds of heartbreaking crushes that have sometimes come my way in
New York City. There are somewhere between 5 and 10 absolutely
incredible men at Snaggy at all times, at one point there are about 25
and my joyful, inspired heart nearly explodes out of my chest. There
are also many sweet, talented, bright eyed and exuberant beautiful
girls – musicians, gardeners, and painters, and I am deep, deeply in
love with every one of them. This is a deep, sparkling, warm, growing,
radiant golden overwhelming feeling of love, admiration, inspiration
and gratitude. This much joy has made me very calm, it feels easy
laughter song revelry. This feeling is intoxicating, I feel buoyant.
This place must be on a ley line because everything and everyone is
just as full of pure magic as the next and I’m so grateful we found
our way here.