I wanted to share a story with you about Ray and Rosa.

I met Ray and Rosa, oh gosh, about 15 or 16 years ago now I suppose. I was at a storytelling festival in Asheville and saw a tent where Ray was gonna speak. I’d never heard of this man, but something drew me inside. I had never seen a storyteller, it was all new to me.

I found a chair and waited for a bit and then others started to come in. Before long Ray and Rosa came in and I remember the glaring difference in their size.

Ray took a seat on stage and everyone became quiet. This man had presence.  I sat and listened to something I had never experienced before. I have done much traveling, but this was new for me. Ray had the audience captivated, and it was fun to watch him and the reactions of those who were there. Rosa stood close by with a demeanor of having seen this many times, but still enjoying the atmosphere.

So Ray finishes up and gets a big round of applause. Then folks kinda scurry out to go see the next telling. But I just sat there and waited till everyone had left, and then I went up and said hi to Ray and Rosa.

They both took the time to talk with me, and I was impressed with that because most folks are in a hurry. I sat and chatted with them, mostly about things that are everyday occurrences. About a-half hour goes by and I figure it’s time for me to let them get on. But not before I bought a copy of “The Last Chivaree,” which both Ray & Rosa signed for me, but I think even more cherished was the Tree Knot Ray gave to me. Ray said that he carved these, and he’d like for me to have one. I felt kinda guilty and offered to pay for it but he wasn’t having that.

So here it is 2013, and I was looking at my Knot today, which claims a special spot in my small, and only, curio cabinet. I’ve told many people about this mountain man and his wife that I had met that day, and how my short time with them has left a long memory that always brings a smile. But this is the only time I’ve ever felt compelled to write about it.

I’m just a regular guy, an Electrician who lives outside of Hendersonville in an area that the locals call ‘Worlds Edge.’ The mountain geography is easy to like, it’s very pretty here even in the winter. But what keeps me here are the people, a genuine sincerity that runs hundreds of years deep.

What made me go sit in that tent that day so many years ago? I don’t know. But I feel that I was gifted the day that I met Ray and Rosa Hicks, and I’m smart enough to know when a blessing has been bestowed upon me, just because.

Keith Smith, Hendersonville, NC