Monday, April 25, 2011
beautiful song cycle), movies (the recent Ken Burns' documentary), novels, and myths. He is also, thanks in large part to my cousin Libby Kephart Hargrave and the great historian George Ellison, celebrated in the annual Horace Kephart Days, held each year between April 29 and May 1st in Bryson, City, NC.
George Kephart, my grandfather, was one of Horace Kephart's two sons. When his father departed for his Appalachian journey, George moved, with his mother, Laura, and his five total siblings, to Ithaca, New York. All six Kephart children ultimately attended Cornell University, while Laura took in boarders to try to make ends meet.
Toward the end of his life, George Kephart made two important decisions: to leave his own papers to Cornell University and to dedicate a glen in his wife's name within the Cornell Plantations.
This weekend I saw those plantations for the first time. With my husband and son, through mist then heavy rain, I searched for the glen. There was hardly anyone about, and no one to ask, and if I never found the glen itself, if I will have to return with a guide (and I will), I did discover the tremendous beauty of this place—even in rain, even before most any flower has had a chance to bloom. This is peaceful, water-streaming, well-considered country. This is ravines and slopes and green, a tumble of hellebores. My grandfather was a quiet man, a forester, a rose gardener, a lover of things alive and growing. No wonder, I kept thinking as I walked. No wonder this place was his eternity.