Hullabaloo for clean headwaters (and a secret)

Poor Fork of the Cumberland River

Okay, so now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. There are a few out there who don’t want me to tell, and many who do. So, I’m taking the bull by the horns and spilling the beans. The spillage decision was triggered by an upcoming river-cleanup. One that occurs next weekend, on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

The Flying Foresters, who continue to amaze one and all by their shooting-star-blaze return to Harlan, are behind the cleanup again, teamed with the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. And I (on my knees in my most prayerful pose) give thanks that I am not an organizer. And that they are. They have put together a masterful team of people going, doing, giving, showing. Again, I am not one of them. I have no clue who is doing all the work because, once again, I am thankful that I am not the organizer.

I’m very happy cheering on from the sidelines. And doing my part: splashing in the water on a gorgeous late Summer/early Fall day. And having my name thrown into the hat for prizes. And having a huge barbeque with music by Cumberland River and I don’t know who all else after an already-perfect day. Yeah. I can do that. By the way, I just want to repeat a complaint here that all the fun and prizes and food and music have made it decidedly not an event that I can add to my martyr-activity quota. Okay, just kidding, and clean water is serious business. So, now I’ll get back to the point. Swear.

The Cumberland River Cleanup aka Headwaters Hullabaloo is coming! Fast!! So let me set the stage just a bit. Last year’s cleanups, both the first and second, were the most amazing days in all of time. Sunny, hot and dry as late Summer/early Fall in Harlan can be. Huge blue sky. Big cotton-ball puffs of clouds, as they always are there. Vistas that you haven’t seen until you’re standing in the middle of the Cumberland River or its headwaters. Even if you grew up there. Oh, man. We are talking beeeeeeautiful.  Not to mention standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some fine human beings who are taking care of business, river cleanup style.

Gorgeous day.

Doing good work.

In Harlan County.

Does it get any better?

So, please come if you’d like. We’ll play nice. Not too rough. We won’t make fun of your accents (cause y’all do have them; you know this, right?). Swear!

And now to the secret part, which I have to tell you ’cause you’re gonna see it if you come. And that is, that Harlan County is that most gorgeous of hollers in all of the universe. There, I’ve said it. Everyone from there knows this. It’s been our secret from the beginning. And we haven’t told. But we’ve finally decided, like on one of those made-for-TV movies, to let you guys in on it.  But not one of those creepy ones where river zombies come up out of the sandy bottom to grab your ankles.  NOT one of those.  Okay, back to the point.

A few of you have discovered us in the last few years. And our secret. But what we have done, whilst you have moved amongst us (it classes up a piece to add “st” to the end of a few words), is to not let on that Harlan’s beauty is a secret. It’s the only way we could figure out how to do damage control on its getting out. ‘Cause if we let on that it was a secret to be kept, then you’d go blab, and then all these people would be there, and, well, we like it the way it is.

But I don’t know if the secret has been leaking, or if people have just stumbled on us. Because people are coming.  More and more. And dang it, if Justified didn’t add insult to injury. More people. Coming to see where they shoot some of the episodes. Argh. Four-wheelers making use of old stripping (Appalachian coal style) and logging roads. With the most awesome vistas.  No comment on the four-wheelers. No blog on it yet. Do you reaeeeeallllly wonder where I’ll end up on that issue? : ) Okay, back to the issue at hand.

The secret. So, we couldn’t tell you that it was a secret without somehow compromising the secret itself. And have, theresoforest, tried to act like nothing’s going on, just nonchalantly minding our own business. In fact,
if you’ll notice (“notice” said with a sing-songy voice), we Eastern Kentuckians are rather  known by our standoffishness, shall we say, to strangers, our aloofness, hostility even. Well, now you know why. We just didn’t know how to keep our secret. And we knew that if we didn’t talk to you much, that was probably the safest way.

So, here it is September 4, 2011. And I am here, as the unofficial spokesperson for a multi-generational secret (and my personal history tracks back to the beginning of the first secret-keepers, the Chickamauga Cherokee), to let you in on the fact that Harlan’s beauty is a secret we’ve been keeping from you.

The rest will play out. Maybe you’ll track for FB posts from others who have been here. Maybe you listen for #harlan tweets to hear the buzz. Maybe you’ll watch some awesome footage made by Harlan Countians on YouTube. Or, maybe you’ll come to find it out, for yourself, in the first person. Maybe you’ll splash in the beautiful headwaters of the Cumberland River in our second year of splashing, cleaning, but mostly, loving the waters on a gorgeous late Summer/early Fall day.

You’re invited.

September 10, 2011, from 9:00am to 4:00pm

Harlan County Campground and RV Park
8331 Hwy. 119
Putney, KY

You don’t need the freaking zip code; that’s how wonderful it is here.

And you can tell a few people, now that the red-hot secret is out.  Imagine how it will look from a kayak.

View from Pine Mountain

4 responses to “Hullabaloo for clean headwaters (and a secret)

  1. Martha, you are the best! I’m proud you are a Harlan Woman!!!

  2. I’m rubber; you’re glue.
    Whatever bounces off me, sticks to you!

    The feeling is completely AND totally mutual!!

  3. Mo, I love your writing style! I hope this event is a big success for you folks!

  4. Thanks so much, Sandy. Every time the river gets a little cleaner. It looks much better now than it did in the 60s when I grew up. We’re going to continue until we only send clean, clear water out to our beautiful oceans.

Leave a Reply