Day One of the 2002 Great Mohican Gathering
... Chimney Rock Park, 18th Century Competitions, Bill Miller Concert ...
Where was I? Oh yeah ... "and then ..."
... And then, one longtime Gatherer arrived at the gravel parking lot adjacent to CRP's Meadows Pavilion where we were meeting up. For the fifth consecutive time the weather was clear & sunny for our annual gathering at Chimney Rock Park. It felt good. It felt familiar and comfortable. The feelings of "something missing" - people missing - were being repressed. But then, this longtime Gatherer arrived ... just about in tears, and it was obvious that there had been tears just moments before. "What's the matter?" I asked, pretty much already knowing the answer. "I didn't expect this. I got here and everything hit me," was the response. I sympathized. I could feel it, too. There were certain people it seemed we were supposed to be seeing right about now. Yet, they weren't there ... and they weren't going to be there. Not this year. And that really was very sad. We are the only two, that I know of, who verbalized such a thing, but I am quite sure there were others feeling the same. This was nearly my worst fear coming to life. Was this going to end up being a depressing nightmare of a Gathering?
Thanks to the never dying spirit of all who came to this little throwback of a Great Mohican Gathering - both veteran & newbie - that's as low as it ever got. Right there at the very beginning. It was all uphill from there ... and, that's not to say that absent, veteran Gatherers were not missed, for they were - one & all - felt you every step of the way, from the cooling pools at the Top of the Falls to the awe-inspiring views from atop Table Rock's Chimneys to the camaraderie-filled late night laughter-inducing chats on Sunday night ... this one's for YOU! But, consider this ... about 50% of this year's Gatherers had never been to one before. The highest percentage since, well, since the very first one, when, of course, 100% of us were newbies. And, that 50% brought an exhilarating sense of advent'cha that, by Gathering's end, had successfully recaptured the essence of the Great Mohican Gatherings. Trust me. This comes on the "authority" of a couple of the most seasoned of Gatherers in attendance. Yet, despite this good fortune, there was so much that was so very new. The two together made this a very special Gathering for me ... and, I believe, for all! "We feed off one another," said one second-time Gatherer. How true! We jelled - we bonded - we shared a very wonderful time - and once again, for the fifth consecutive year, we were left - each alone - to deal with the post-Gathering blues! Everyone, it would seem, was a part of this group, and that was one of the special things about it. Big can be good - this one wasn't all that big ... but each Gathering has its own unique flavor to savor ... This one was most delectable!
Drown Your Sorrows On The MOHICAN BOARD!
Rather than tell the story of the unfolding event in my traditional way, I'll let the pictures tell the tale - with appropriate commentary, as necessary!
... Rich Federici
CHIMNEY ROCK PARK
18TH CENTURY-STYLE COMPETITIONS
It was here, in my own humble opinion, that things really started to come together for this group. I mean, after all, we were playing games ... together!! I can't say enough good things about the men of the French Broad Rifles. They were hospitable, enthusiastic, and warm. They provided us with powder, shot, weapons, accoutrements, first-class instruction, & mediation ... not to mention a place. Great thanks go from all of us to them ... Bob Penland, Darrell Pacheco, and all the rest. Great job! We had a blast! We've already been invited back, and you can bet that we'll take them up on the offer for an expanded version of the Mohican Games!
REAL WAMPUM & BRANDY OFFERED AS PRIZES!
BILL MILLER CONCERT AT SPIRITS ON THE RIVER
What a wonderful ... and completely unexpected ... treat! Why Bill Miller, you ask? What's the connection to The Last of the Mohicans? For one, Bill Miller IS a Mohican ... born and raised on the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Reservation in Wisconsin. But, I, for one, had never heard of him before he was booked for the 2002 Great Mohican Gathering. So, I expected little. Was looking forward to the Native fare dinner at Spirits on the River, more than anything. And, certainly, that didn't disappoint! My own little meal consisted of herbal tea, soup & salad, fry bread, buffalo, trout, pheasant, wild rice, squash, and berries over ice cream. Not bad!
But, Bill Miller ... I can't praise him enough! His message was nothing if not positive. He is a multi-talented musician & singer, with a wonderful voice. His guitar, flute, & mouth harp were played with a unique & innovative style. Did I mention his story telling? He was engaging & sincere. I loved him! But, wait!
For free, mind you, a group of male & female dancers & singers from the Cherokee Reservation came on over & opened up for Bill, and in some cases, performed duets with him. Here, on a little deck, overlooking the Swannanoa River, we heard & saw some of the most romantic sights & sounds ever bestowed upon a Mohican Gathering. We're not talking bozos here, either. These were excellent performers, including one of the very best hoop dancers in the country, Lowery Begay. It was all unreal! Most of the material Miller performed was original, but towards the end of the show, Miller chose to do some Bob Dylan covers. The highlight of the evening, which was the highlight of an astounding day - ranking right up there with any other of the very best Mohican Gathering days - was a hauntingly stirring rendition of All Along the Watchtower, accompanied by the Indian drum & song of Begay. There, at that moment, in that setting, chills ran up my spine. I'll never forget that moment!
[Most of] The GROUP
All who were not there were missed!
BACK TO: 2002 GREAT MOHICAN GATHERING