Friday, October 27, 2006

Rivalry week in Rogersville

This past week's edition of Friday Night Lights was entitled "Who's your daddy," and began with shenanigans perpetrated against the Dillon Panthers (Dillon happens to be the name of the town and high school in the TV show) by their arch rival during rivalry week.

Well, this week's edition of The Review featured a front-page story about a remarkably similar event. I'm sure the Chiefs will go back and get theirs from the Falcons this week.

Y'all git up. It's rivalry week: the Hawkins County Super Bowl.

FEELING: Mobuck pride
LISTENING TO: The sounds of Jeopardy, as Kat watches it in her room

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coming home on the city's western border

"On the city's west'rn border,
reared against the sky,
Proudly stands our Alma Mater,
as the years roll by--
Forward! ever be thy watchword
Conquer! and Prevail!
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater,
Vanderbilt, all hail!

It was homecoming in Nashville, and Katharyn and I were so excited about going back to our dear ol' alma mater, that we woke up at 8 a.m. to get to West End in time for lunch. And we made it!


We got to Vandy, parked at the BCM, and walked to Sarratt Student Center to have lunch at the Overcup Oak, more affectionately known to students (an alums) as just "the Pub."

Kat had food from Grins, Vanderbilt's koser, vegetarian cafe serving Jewish-style foods from around the world. It sounds sort of weird (at least, it did to a former hillbilly like myself), but you've never eaten 'til you've had a PB&G (a tortilla wrap with peanut butter, banana slices, and granola). Plus, the hospitality of Vanderbilt's Jewish community is always a welcome addition to the visit (you know, some of my favorite classes at Vanderbilt were in the Schulman Center for Jewish Life, where Rabbi David Davis taught the course, "Jesus the Jew").

After lunch at the Pub, where we ran into Dustin Dowell and Kevin Hritz, it was time to go browse the bookstore.


We went through Rand to get to the bookstore and noticed that Gee and his Student Life gestapo (now the Office of the Dean of Students -- new name, same fun) had posted the Vanderbilt Community Creed inside the Rand Dining Center, a la World War II propaganda (in addition to the propaganda, I did like the fact that they'd painted Rand with a nice, muted Commodore gold).

Once we finally made it into the Bookstore, we were super-excited. It seems the bookstore has made some good business decisions, adding Vanderbilt gear by Vineyard Vines, Columbia, and Vera Bradley to their traditional Nike, Champion, and Jansport line-up. Kat and I both found stuff that we wanted, but it was Kat who convinced me to stand in line (for 20 minutes) to buy one of the new, swank Columbia Vandy fleeces. I was a fan.

We didn't just buy stuff, though. We also got to see long-lost brother and friend Wes Whitaker, who was back in the U.S., and in town to celebrate his one-year anniversary with Julie Wilson. It was really good to see Wes, and we had a great visit.


Another one of the missions that Kat and I purposed to accomplish was visiting the two of the ladies that got us through Vanderbilt. After the bookstore, we headed over to Garland Hall for the Women's and Gender Studies Alumni Reception. After we visited with Kat's mentor, Gayle, it was time to head over to McGugin Center to see my mom-away-from-home, Diane Scott.

Diane is the executive assistant to the director of athletics (and, after the dissolving of the Athletics Department, to the person who took over the director's duties) for Vanderbilt's varsity sports. For three years, I worked for Diane as her student assistant. It was one of my favorite responsibilities during my time at Vanderbilt. I spent at least 10 hours of my week at the hub of Vandy athletics, helping to turn me into card-carrying Commodore and turning me away from affiliations with that Big Arnge to the east.

Diane was a great boss, but she was also sort of a mom-figure for me while I worked for her. She helped me get through my break-up with Kat junior year, and she helped keep my hopes up when I was going through the law school application process. If I ever make it, Diane will definitely get credit.


After we visited McGugin (and I gave Kat the dime-tour of the Athletics facilities, including the Corridor of Captains, the history of exhibit of Vanderbilt football), it was time to get ready for the secondary reason for my trip to Nashville: running the Beta Upsilon Chi Alumni Association's Nashville alumni dinner.

We hosted the alums and their guests at Logan's, just off of Elliston Place and a block from campus. We had a decent turnout and a lot of fun. In addition to a brief spiel from nationals, we also had a report on how things are going at Vanderbilt's Nu Chapter of Brothers Under Christ.

It was a great evening and really good to catch up with everyone. After dinner, Kat and I were so tired, after our long day, that we went straight "home" (to Mark Halling's apartment near Village at Vanderbilt to sleep.


The next morning, Kat and I rolled out and headed to campus to watch the Vanderbilt Homecoming Parade. It was a lot of fun. We watched it from the Schulman Center on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and Twenty-fifth Avenue. We even had some silly Gamecocks show up to watch.

After the parade, it was time to head over to Vandyville for the tailgating with the BYX boys. First, though, Mark and his girlfriend Cristy had to stop and get in line for a limited-edition Jay Cutler bobblehead. After that, we headed through Vandyville and eventually met up with the boys at the BYX tailgate. They had brought out the bar that Alpha Class had made for the 2003 Valentine Party from waaaay back in junior year (and note that the accompanying picture is also from waaaay back in junior year, too).

In addition to tailgating and meeting up with the old BYX crew, my former fellow Cumberlander Mark Arinci was in Nashville for the Commodore Quake concert, rapper Ludacris (who knew Arinci was into Ludacris?). After visiting, it was time for the game.


We went to the Star Walk, and that was a lot of fun. But then it was time for the game. And then, we lost. It was ugly. Enough said.

There were, however, some bright spots at the stadium. At halftime, they announced the 2006 Homecoming Court. Of course, for the fourth year running, BYX had a brother on Homecoming Court (Vanderbilt used to elect a guy and a girl as king and queen -- don't ask me to go into that diatribe -- now we elect one outstanding senior), and he, Jay Salato, won. It was great.

At the game, we sat (for the first time) in the "old people's section," also known as the "alumni section." It was weird, but it was fun to be there with Kat and her brother Alex.


Then, after the game, Kat, Alex, and me went to dinner on Kat's parents (thanks John and Jeanne!). We ate at Maggiano's one of Nashville's newest Italian joints over on the corner of West End and 31st Ave N. It's one of my new favorite places to go.

We went back to Mark's, hung out, and then went to bed. The next day, we had to get up early again so that Kat and I could get back to Birmingham in time for me to make it to Mock Trial Team practice.

Even though the Dores lost, it was a fun weekend. And Katharyn and I can't wait to get back to Nashville (after, of course, getting ourselves established for a few years in Alabama).

FEELING: Nostalgic (yes, again)
LISTENING TO: The Alma Mater from the Spirit of Gold Marching Band CD that I bought at Homecoming

Monday, October 23, 2006

Preview: the coming totalitarian secularism

Most people who are agnostic or apathetic about God are just that: they don't care, God's not important to their lives. There are plenty of people who are don't know or care to bother thinking about God who are fine persons (as fine as any of us can be). I knew several of these folks at dear ol' VU.

They are quite a contrast with people like Richard Dawkins, whose philosophy is a sort of evangelistic secularism that doesn't advocate a laissez-faire attitude toward faith, but an anti-faith stance.

It is Dawkins who says:
How much do we regard children as being the property of their parents? It's one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children? Is there something to be said for society stepping in? What about bringing up children to believe manifest falsehoods?
In other words, is it time for society, i.e., the government, to step in and say, "No more 'indoctrinating' your children with 'manifest falsehoods'"?

Read the (sobering) article here.

FEELING: Resolved to advance the Gospel in the face of adversity
LISTENING TO: The sounds of the Cumberland library

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The best weekend ever (part 2)

As I said in the prior post touching on this subject, this past weekend was probably one of the best weekends I've had in a very, very long time. Just about everything that could go right did, and there were hardly any blemishes on three straight days. All in all, it was the best weekend ever.

This is part 2 of an Annales trilogy. Part 1 is available here. Stay tuned for part 3.


Because Katharyn and I wanted to get our engagement pictures taken in Rogersville while we were there for Heritage Days, we had to wake up early. And because even I get hungry by mid-day if I don't eat breakfast (even though I am not a big fan of breakfast in general), we decided that we would break our fast at the traditional (and annual) Masonic Lodge Pancake Breakfast.

I was very excited about the opportunity to visit my home Lodge (I am a Master Mason, raised there at Overton Lodge in May of 2005) and to show Katharyn around. To make it to the breakfast, which ended at 10 a.m., and to have time to attend Heritage Days while still having an opportunity to take our engagement pictures, we woke up around 7:00 a.m., and we made it to downtown by 8:30.

When we got to the Masonic Lodge, however, it was dark and the doors were locked. It seems that the annual pancake breafast had turned into a barbeque the night before. Frustrated, but determined, we headed back to the car and decided to go to Hardee's for breakfast. We enjoyed their usual breakfast fair, and we also got share our breakfast with a whole clan (four women, three kids, and one man) of Holiness folks in their denim, ankle-skirts and waist-length hair (the women, not the man).


After breakfast, my dad met us at Hardee's, and we drove to Ebbing and Flowing Spring United Methodist Church, one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in our area, to take our engagement pictures.

We posed and smiled and posed some more, all the while freezing our butts off (the Lord saw fit to grant us nippy, fall weather in celebration of Heritage Days, for which we were grateful at all times except during the picture-taking). It was worth it, though, because we ended up getting some great pictures.


After we finished taking our pictures, it was finally time to go back to downtown, where Heritage Days was in full swing.

The streets were lined with tents full of crafts from all around the country (seriously: I met one crafter from upstate New York, another from Texas, and another from Wyoming) and full of folks in town for the festivities.

The sky was sapphire blue, the air had just a hint of a nip, and the sun shone lightly through the trees of the Town Square. All in all, it truly was an idyllic moment, and it made me remember why I like to refer to Rogersville as the promised land.

As we were waiting on mom and dad to meet us on the Town Square (they had driven separately from Katharyn and I), we saw several folks that we hadn't seen in a long time. First was Adam Susong, his wife Kayce, and their son, Parker. Adam was my best friend in high school, and it was great to see him and his family.


After we met back up with my parents, and took a few pictures, it was time to enjoy the festivities at large. One of the first things we did was go see the Heritage Demonstrators.

Part of the point of Heritage Days is to celebrate the history of our very old, and very unique little town. A part of Rogersville's history is the way of life that its citizens led for hundreds of years that has all but disappeared since the early 1960s. The mountain way of life, with its rural and agricultural basis, is highlighted by folks who dress in period attire and demonstrate just how things were done by the ancestors of today's Rogersvillians.

One of my favorite demonstrators is always the applebutter makers. These folks, from Mary's Chapel United Methodist Church in Bean Station (a tiny crossroads town about 15 minutes from Rogersville), bring their kettle, some wood, and plenty of apples to make apple butter right on the Town Square. In addition to their living history lesson, they also sell the apple butter for folks just like me.

Because it's one of my favorie booths, I got the applebutter churner to let Katharyn have a go at churning so that we could appreciate what my ancestors had to go through and so that I could get a cute picture of Kat. As you can see from the picture, I think I can safely say, "mission accomplished."


Since Kat cooperated so fully on the applebutter picture, I had no recourse but to go with her as she went into full shopping mode on the Heritage Days craft booths. In order to maximize our effectiveness, we devised a plan whereby we would begin at the corner of South Hasson & West Main and head east on the south side of Main Street, looking at the booths as we went.

And boy, did we. There were booths with candles, jewelry, decorations, food, furniture, knives, toys, paintings, drawings, and a million other things that I probably can't even remember. As we strolled down the street, we continued to see people that we knew, and it was exciting to visit with folks that I hadn't seen in a while.

We didn't make it out of Heritage Days without spending some money. Overall, of course, I think we did pretty well. I made it out with two hand-sewn dish towels that can hang on a stove handle without falling (they have a button device) that I purchased as a gift for mom; I also bought two pencil drawings of downtown Rogersville buildings from an artist that has been coming to Heritage Days at least since the early 1990s.

Kat bought a couple of items that I can't mention on my blog because certain people might read it and then would know what they're getting for Christmas (not to mention Kat would kill me).


While Kat and I were browsing (and while we were somewhere past the intersection of East Main & South Church), I started getting text messages from Scott Williams about the score of the Vanderbilt-Georgia football game. I knew that the Commodores were playing that afternoon, but the importance of Heritage Days to me, Kat, my family, and the community meant that I was out and about instead of inside watching the game.

Scott said that Vanderbilt had just recovered a fumble, and that we were beating Georgia 14-13 in Athens. I was excited, but I will admit didn't think much of the message. After all, I had (only last week) witnessed our Commodores' keen propensity to go up and then fall down when I went to Oxford, Mississippi with Scott.

It turns out that might have been the wrong decision to stay outside and keep shopping (not really, but I mean, what a game to be shopping and browsing crafts through). It was when Kat and I reached the corner of East Main & Brownlow (and notice how long it took to get from Church Street to Brownlow Street), that Scott sent a message that I'll never forget.

It said: "Vandy wins!!! 24-22"

Kat and I proceeded to go ecstatic. I began running around in circles, fumbling with my phone trying to call people. I called Scott, I called Mark Halling, I text-messaged Tyler Fiveash, I got calls from Megan Price and Clark Dumas, and I generally went bananas.

Only the Lord, and possibly Katharyn, will ever know how hard it was for me not to go rushing indoors and proceed to try to assimilate as much information as possible about the victory. Because ladies and gentlemen, that game and its outcome was a Big Deal.

You see, the Commodores (until this past weekend) had never -- that's right, never -- beaten a Top 25 opponent on their (the opponent's) home field. We came close when we beat Auburn in our first bowl appearance at a neutral field back in 1956.

But this was a first. Not to mention that Georgia was ranked sixteenth in the country, it was Homecoming, and it was in Athens. This game, combined with our wins at Arkansas and at Tennessee (not to mention our four-game winning streak last year), is something of a statement.

We have now beaten good, old-fashioned SEC teams on their own turf in 3 out of the last 10 football games that we have played. Our combined record in the past two seasons is 8-10 (5-6 last year and 3-4 this year). If you can't tell, that's (dangerously) close to .500. That's (dangerously) close to consistent, SEC-caliber play (and success). Folks, we ain't just whistlin' Dixie. Vanderbilt is a program on the rise, and it's all thanks to Bobby Johnson.

Did somebody say "bowl game?"


For the rest of the afternoon, I floated through Heritage Days with my head in the sky and my heart with the 'Dores in Athens. I saw people, I talked to them, and I even enjoyed Heritage Days, but it was all over but the ecstasy.

That afternoon, Kat and I headed over to Megan Price's house to join her and my friend (and Megan's fiancee) Michael Anderson to hang out and catch up. We had a great time.

After we left Megan's house, we returned home to have dinner with my parents. After an awesome dinner, it was time for the four of us to join my dog, Titan, outside around a fire-pit to roast marshmallows and talk late into the night.

A perfect end, to a perfect day in the Promised Land.

FEELING: Happy, still
LISTENING TO: Dixie, after looking it up on Wikipedia to link it to this blog entry

Monday, October 16, 2006

The best weekend ever (part 1)

For some reason, this past weekend was probably one of the best weekends I've had in a very, very long time. Just about everything that could go right did, and there were hardly any blemishes on three straight days. All in all, it was the best weekend ever.

This is part 1 of an Annales trilogy. Part 2 is available here. Stay tuned for part 3.


Katharyn and I left Birmingham early on Friday morning to travel home. Our goal was to make it to Rogersville in time for the kick-off event of Heritage Days, the Children's Parade.

My mom had been working very hard to get the Parade put together, and I wanted to be there to encourage her and cheer her on.

Basically, the Children's Parade is an excuse for the parents of Rogersville's children to dress them up in "cute," historical costumes to (1) show off their kids; (2) make their neighbors jealous; and (3) celebrate Rogersville's heritage.

Though we made good time through Alabama and most of Tennessee, when we hit I-75, the traffic was as thick as some Hawkins County applebutter, and we got behind schedule.


Despite the setback, we kept going -- we ended up only being 30 minutes late. When we got to downtown, the Heritage Days Car Show was in full swing, with a "cruise-in."

Basically, this means that all of these old, souped-up cars were driving, parade-style, down Main Street with tons of people lining the streets (who had just witnessed the Children's Parade, led by the RCS Warrior Marching Band).

We called my mom's cell phone, trying to get in touch with her. Since there were so many people downtown, it would have been impossible to try to find her, so when we couldn't get her to answer her phone, we headed for the most logical place: the end of the Children's Parade, where mom would have been helping send kids and parents here and there after the parade was over.

We walked through all the people lining the streets, and when we finally got to where the Children's Parade was supposed to end, on the corner of Brownlow & East Main, mom was no where to be found.


There were, however, other folks. As Kat and I looked sheepishly around the parking lot, I heard someone yell my name.

It turned out to be Tia Thames and Marla Gibson, two of my good friends from home. It was great to see both of them: I hadn't caught up with them in so long. In fact, it had been so long, that Marla had gotten married, and I hadn't even heard about it. I was very happy for her, and I was glad to hear that she and Tia had been doing well, teaching school in and around Rogersville.

Tia and Marla pointed us in the right direction, and told us that they had seen mom head west, back toward the Town Square. So Kat and I said our good byes and made our way back down Main Street, this time on the south side of the street.

The whole time, of course, cars are driving by and people were trying to see. It was quite a scene as Katharyn and I -- both rather over-dressed for the occasion -- elbowed our way through the thickening crowd.


Eventually we made it back to Town Square. When we got there, we saw Annette, Ron, and Whitney Beach, who all indicated that my mom had been spotted directing traffic (of all things) at the intersection of West Main & Hasson Streets. With newfound purpose, Katharyn and I continued to trudge through layers of Big Arnge and Mobuck Red toward Joseph Rogers' Second Tavern on the intersection previously reported.

Finally, as approached the intersection, we saw my mom, bedecked in Heritage Days paraphernalia and officialdom, directing old cars down the blockaded Main Street, whilst holding at bay the increasingly frustrated thru-traffic. And she looked to be having the time of her life.


After meeting up with mom, and helping her take care of traffic, we moved back toward the festival and into the food court. There, already setting up for the big day, were tons of booths full of food and other delights. After grabbing some dinner (from Rogersville's own barbeque restaurant Pig 'n Chick), we headed over to a pinic area to eat, talk, and catch up.

Mom was very excited about the changes that had been made in downtown, and Kat and I were equally excited once we realized the hard work that had gone into making downtown look so impressive. Throughout the downtown Historic District, the sidewalks had been bricked; brass plaque Historic Markers had been enlaid in the sidewalks; new taller, brighter lamps had been installed; and new street furniture (benches, trash cans, and flower boxes) were strategically placed throughout downtown).

All of us were proud of what the town had accomplished, and we enjoyed our dinner despite the increasingly cold weather.


After dinner, Kat and I bade mom farewell while we walked back to my car to get ready for the evening's penultimate activity: Cherokee Football in Big Red Valley.

Kat and I made the drive from downtown out to the intersection of Tennessee 66 and Tennessee 70, where Hawkins County's western high school, Cherokee Comprehensive High School, is the home of the Cherokee Chiefs.

There, in the five-thousand person seat stadium known as "Big Red Valley" (remember, Rogersville's population is 5,100), the Chiefs were engaged in mortal struggle against the evil Hurricanes of Morristown East (which, of course, always begs the question: what sort of Hurricanes make it to Tennessee's river and valley area).

It was supposed to be a good game, since the Chiefs had only lost 2, and the 'Canes had lost 3; but by the time Kat and I left (after seeing Daniel McMillan, Robert Galvez, Jessica Lee, Katie Lawson, Amy Bailey McMillan, and Lindsey Collier), the score was 7-50, East. Yikes.


After the game, Kat and I were exhausted and ready to head home. When we got there, we found my dog, Titan, waiting to welcome us, and my parents had my bed ready for Kat and the guest bed ready for me.

LISTENING TO: Air 1 on iTunes

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Jewish atheist's perspective on evangelicals

A lady named Lauren Sandler wrote a book called Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement (review), where she attempts to analyze, from her perspective as an "unrepentant Jewish atheist" (a term she uses to describe herself), what draws young people to become Evangelical Christians.

I have not read the book, but I found this transcript of an online chat she had with readers of The readers' questions and Ms. Sandler's answers both provide an interesting insight into what those of us who happen to be followers of the Way (the Truth, and the Life) are doing right -- and wrong.

An excerpt from the chat:
[Reader from] Washington DC: Are there any common threads among the teens who are drawn to these evangelical youth groups? Have the numbers of groups and/or youth members of them increased in recent years, or is it only enhanced visibility via increasing media savvy of some of these groups? and if so, why?

Lauren Sandler: There are loads of common threads. That's one of the most intersting things about this movement, which I called the "Disciple Generation." I can't think of a youth movement that connects people more profoundly across demographic lines. This is a movement of cowboys, skaters, punk rock kids, nerds, drop-outs, cheerleaders, goth kids--you name it. And they all talk about how their faith and their faith community gives them a sense of identity, pupose, and community, which they say they can't find outside Christianity.
That's an example of what we're doing right: providing the koinonia that only Christ's Church can. But there's some bad stuff, too.

Read the whole thing.

FEELING: Intrigued
LISTENING TO: Elevator music at Panera

Friday, October 06, 2006

Let the nail-biting commence

It's the day before Saturday in the South in October, and that means I can't think about anything but football.

While most of my fellow SEC brethren will be enthralled with the SEC Championship prequel taking place in the Swamp, or the eastern division thug-fest between the Hedges, I will be heading west to repast 'neath the Grove in Oxford.

United States Army Second Lieutenant Scott Williams will be reporting for duty in Birmingham to join me as we travel to Mississippi for the SEC clash between the Rebels of Ole Miss (1-4, 0-2) and our valiant Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 0-2).


While I am excited about Scott's homecoming to Shades Valley, I am even more excited -- and anxious -- about our big game this weekend. Vanderbilt always plays Ole Miss very close, and the games have gone into over time twice in the past five years.

And in every game, even if it didn't go into overtime, the game wasn't decided until the very end of regulation.

We won't be on TV -- guess nobody wants to see two "bad" teams play an exciting, entertaining football game -- but I will definitely be treating it as though the entire SEC championship were on the line.

So if you talk to me between now and tomorrow afternoon, know that I may be just a little bit on edge. And only one football score away from agony or ecstasy.

FEELING: Surge of Commodore Pride

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And now for something completely different

So looking back through my posts the past couple of weeks, I've been rather boring: weighty subjects of world peace and religious strife have dominated the Annales. In keeping with my present mood, and present desire to enjoy a bit o' distraction, I thought I'd change tact and report on my every day goings on.


One of the biggest changes in my life of late has been making Cumberland's national trial team. Basically, this is a group second- and third-year law students who competed for almost a month in a mock trial tournament to qualify for an interview/tryout of sorts with the coaches of the team.

Why all the hoopla just for a mock trial team? Well, it seems that Cumberland has something of a reputation to keep up. Apparently, Cumberland's trial team is one of the best in the nation -- a statistic confirmed by no less an authority than the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, when it invited Cumberland to its "Tournament of Champions."

The ToC, as it is called, is open only to the nation's sixteen best trial teams, as determined by NITA. This year, as in years past, Cumberland made the cut.

Our team is competing at four tournaments this year, all across the country:

• San Antonio, Tex.
• Tampa, Fla.
• Atlanta, Ga.
• Buffalo, N.Y.

Yours truly has been selected to serve as a both a prosecutor and a witness in the mock trial tournament at Buffalo School of Law in Buffalo, New York. Our case is a complicated mafia-related conspiracy, burgarly, and felony murder case, so it should be a blast.


Besides making the trial team, one of the coolest things going in my life right now is the simple fact that my fiancee, Kat, is now only 45 minutes away in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where she is working on her second-year at the University of Alabama's law school.

Having Kat in such close proximity has been a blessing beyond belief. I am completely thankful to God that he helped us get through some of the rough patches of being seven hours away back when Kat was in the horrible place, because it has made our experience in Alabama so awesome.

We've gotten to swap weekends, spending time together in each other's environments, and both of us really feel like we're back to being active participants in one anothers' lives since we can meet friends, go out casually, and generally enjoy the minutiae of life together: going to Church, studying for class, eating dinner, and (especially) having Kat's support at events like the try-out tournament for the National Trial Team.

It's the little things, after all, that seem to make life together so special.


Coming up in only nine days is one of the most important annual events in the world (it even has an entry on Wikipedia).

In importance to the outside world, it doesn't show up on most people's radar screens. But to me, and about 40,000 other people, it's one of the most special times of the year; really, for many of us, it effectively serves as Christmas/Thanksgiving all rolled up into one.

I'm speaking of course, about the quaint, nineteenth century harvest festival that is held during the second (full) weekend of every October on the timeless streets of God's little piece of heaven-on-earth, Historic Rogersville, Heritage Days.

For the first time since 2002 I get to join the tens of thousands of people from the Rogersville diaspora in coming home to God's country. Katharyn also gets to come, and I have come to see it as probably the highlight of the fall semester.

I am not sure why I am so excited, but there is something inside me that yearns for those mountains, the music, and the innocent way of life that has been preserved along Crocketts Creek between the Town and Schoolhouse Knobs for two-and-a-half centuries. It is a way of life that is a part of who I am, and returning to Rogersville has the effect of recharging me and reminding me both who I am and who I want be.

Look for (hopefully) pictures and more from the Heritage Days trip after next weekend. And, of course, if you'll be within 5 hours of Historic Rogersville (just off of Interstate 81!) during October 13-15, you've got to swing through town. But be warned: you won't want to leave.

FEELING: Intense nostalgia