Thursday, March 25, 2010


Jackson to Clemson to Cullowhee
I write this before a journey to Durham tomorrow where God's Architects will play at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies.

Yesterday, I somehow made it over to South Carolina from Mississippi, where I had a brief and nice stay in Jackson near Millsaps College where played. After a friendly screening and gathering in Clemson, I drove north this morning, to Cullowhee, North Carolina. Quite a drive, from the hills around Clemson to the mountains that surround Western Carolina University. The drive was a great slow winding succession of switchbacks and slopes, which forced me to slow down and look around, oftentimes perilously. Because of the long and freezing winter, most of the trees remain leafless, which offered me glimpses of mountains from the forests of other mountains, views rarely glimpsed this time of year.

On the downslope of one particularly slow curve, I am lucky enough to catch site of an over-sized shoulder where I quickly pull over, realizing I need to get out and stretch for a moment. As I open the door, I immediately hear the mild roar of a waterfall in the near distance. I turn and notice just steps away a narrow gravel path that leads into the forest, and I assume with little doubt that this is the way to the falls. Of course...this shoulder is really a stopping off point where people park while they visit the falls.

Alone I wander through a newly green glade of all manner of deciduous and fir tree, and soon crystalline waters flow along both sides of the path. This must be the water from the falls now flowing down the mountain in two separate streams.

The pool at the base of the white-waterfall reflects the blues and greens above. The falls themselves overflow a rock cliff some thirty feet tall and twice as wide. The rock stretches horizontally well beyond the reach of the fall and yet is continually wet from a watery glaze that covers its darkly green algae-slick surface. In drips and drops, water finds its way down the rock and into the pool and the forked stream beyond. Much of the water, however, rolls directly from the supposed river above and down the rock face until it runs up against a small ridge, a lip in the otherwise smoothly worn stone, at which point the water stutters, forming a waterfall in miniature before it gathers in beaded sheets and descends the lower face of the rock. Yet the most voluminous flows of water shoot out in one seemingly continuous flow beyond the face of the rock and into the low sky. But the water breaks up as it falls. At first hesitant about being thrust and scattered into separation, the droplets appear to linger in air above the pool. And yet a violence exists too, for the droplets manage to cohere somehow and pour collectively (though fly seems to describe it better) and crash against the rock and into a patch of foam in the blue-green pool. The sound, the roar, is unmistakable, and well known.

For a brief moment, the sun sneaks out from behind some clouds to backlight the rim of the falls, as if to make the clear and over-sized droplets glow for me alone.

All of this, a strange collaboration this afternoon, in the woods along Highway 107, somewhere in between Clemson and Cullowhee. Silver Run Falls.

music by Ross Jackson