I am 4 or 5 years old. I go out the front door of our white frame farmhouse onto the porch. The porch is a good 35 feet long from one side of the house to the other. Out here my father has a big overstuffed gray velvet chair he swiped from the Philosophy Department at UNC. ( I hope he doesn't get in trouble now that I told on him.) When there is a cold front moving in with a huge bank of dark clouds with thunder, lightening, and heavy rainstorms, my father likes to sit out here and watch the wind bow the trees. I sit with him on these occasions, and from him I have learned to love storms.
But it is me alone who loves drizzle. So on a drizzly day like this one, I put on my poncho and go outside to play in the moss on the left hand side of our yard. I have on a brick-red wool poncho, just my size, from Guatemala. Our family friend and Duke student Rosie brought it back for me. It is very scratchy, but it has the amazing quality of keeping me dry in a light drizzle. The air is just cool enough that with the drizzle so I have goosebumps.
My mother and I have been out in the moss together and discovered that there are actually several types of moss. There is the soft short green moss which grows abundantly at the base of a great hundred-year-old oak tree. Then there are smaller patches of other kinds of moss. There is a lime green type that grows a little taller in patches. It is also soft but has more of a shaggy feel to it, which appeals to me less. Then there is something my Mom calls "Chinese Moss" which is an opaque aquamarine color and has the appearance of "Loofa." It is rough, and when it dries it is brittle. My mother says this stuff is very valuable in Florida, where it is used in "crafts." My mother hates "crafts."
Mom and I have a favorite among the mosses. During a certain time of the year, I'm not sure if it's fall or spring, one type of moss produces almost goblet shaped sprouts, about 1/4 an inch high. These little things are light green except inside the goblet. Inside, they are bright red. My mother tells me these are called "British Soldiers." I know this has something to do with Paul Revere and the Red Coats, but I don't know exactly what.
The oak tree in this mossy patch has a small arched opening at the bottom about the size of a mouse-hole. I know what a mouse-hole looks like from Tom & Jerry cartoons. My father showed me that there is dirt inside this hole. It is the richest dirt our yard (which was once a farm) has to offer. One sees chunks of wood the size of a pinhead in it, earthworms, and small snails. It has the wonderful earthy smell of ozone before a storm. My father assures me that there are many invisible decomposers helping to make this soil. I think it is interesting that there are living things in the dirt that you can't see. When I cup the earth in my hand, I feel I have a handful of emeralds or pearls or something valuable like the coal I know comes from inside the mountains in West Virginia.
I am squatting by the arched hole. I am waiting, squatted down here, to see if I can catch an elf moving in or out of the hole. I know they live here. It is so obvious, the way this arch has been made to look like a door. They are in there. Elves are magical, and they can grant wishes if they like you. They are very very shy and afraid to be seen by humans, but I know that if you do favors for them and hang around quietly like Jane Goodall, they might come out someday. I leave them gifts. The oak tree makes acorns and the acorns have caps. If you pull the nut part out of the cap, the cap makes a dome. You can make gazebos with four short sticks and an acorn cap. You can also make log cabins for them with sticks. I make a whole village for them in the drizzle. I think they guard jewels and gold in big heaps in underground tunnels.
There is another reason the elves are my friends even though I never see them. It's the shadowy flying man-horse in the black cape. He wants to destroy the world of the elves, and put me in jail for no reason but that I am their friend. He wants to throw me into a deep, dark, stone dungeon with no light and give me nothing but crusts of bread and water. The elves are going to defeat him, and I am going to help. So they are my spiritual companions. Even though they never allow me to see them, I can hear their voices. They cheer me. They support me. They are on my side.
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Besides Tommy's section of the site, the following pages are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community
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November 4, 2001