Cool weather makes her hear dulcimers

Published 1:40 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

I can’t help it—these beautiful fall days that are cool in the mornings and evenings and sunny and warm during the day make me melancholy. It reminds me of days like these when my husband and I rolled down the highway with our RV to attend the Deep South Dulcimer Association Festival at Mobile’s Chickasabogue Park.

As soon as we arrived, we registered at the park office, and found our way to our campground site. After we pulled in, I just could not wait to jump out to see which of our dulcimer friends had arrived. Sometimes I left my husband hooking up the water, electricity and sewer connections at the site. After I greeted a few friends, I rushed back to help him level the RV, and attend to some inside chores.

We tried to get to the campground on Wednesdays before the annual festivals officially began on Saturdays. That gave us plenty of time to circulate through the campground to socialize with old friends and make new ones. Sometimes it worked out, other times it didn’t. He was a minister always on call to his flock. Sometimes unforeseen situations arose that delayed or even prevented our leaving as planned or caused us to leave early. One October Wednesday, we were ready to leave home when he discovered a problem with the RV that delayed us several hours. As he and a friend patiently worked to correct the problem, I got antsy.

Everything worked out well for us to attend the seventh year festival. We pulled in to find a couple of friends serving as festival hosts who welcomed us with steaming cups of coffee. The campground was already bustling with people. That evening my husband left our site with his dulcimer and our stools, headed for the festival chairperson’s site to jam. Torches and lanterns loaded with citronella kept pesky mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Logs blazed and crackled at the campfire, chasing some of the chill away. Sweet dulcimer music floated through the air generated by a strumming group arranged in a circle around the campfire.

We often slept late those mornings at the campground. We lingered over breakfast, enjoying our woodsy surroundings. We marveled at the sight of showers of multicolored leaves falling like raindrops.

During that week, two famous dulcimer musicians, Tull Glazener and Larkin Bryant were in our midst. Tull Glazener travels and holds workshops at dulcimer festivals all over the United States. Larkin Bryant has compiled an instructional dulcimer book with over thirty whimsical illustrations and arrangements of 23 traditional tunes. Her husband, Andy Cohen, entertained us with an unusual old musical instrument with a keyboard. When prompted by my husband, he played “Methodist Pie” without hesitation. Larkin and Tull taught workshops on Saturday morning and participated in afternoon stage performances.

The festival closed out on Sunday morning following a devotional service with hymns. As always, I regretted it ended and left looking forward to the next one.


Nina Keenam is a former reporter. Her column appears on Saturdays.