WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP: 6 Photographs and 2 Videos

words, photos & videos by douglas john imbrogno | march9.2024


‘CELLULAR LIFE SERIES, No. 1’ | Hale House Speakeasy, Charleston, W.Va. | march2024 | theSTORYistheTHING.com | CLICK TO ENLARGE

I remain intrigued by the ever-expanding social phenomenon of so many human beings now spending more time while in public looking down, rather than looking up and out. Will the human neck, in Darwinian fashion, start to curve forward and droop, like a branch holding too much snow?



There are two kinds of people. Folks who cannot bear bagpipe music and those who love it. I am in the second camp, perhaps because my mother’s mother — whom I knew as ‘Grandma Nan’ — was born in or around Aberdeen as ‘Nan Cameron’ and was of Cameron clan lineage. So, bagpipes stir my Scottish blood to attention. That is why on March 3, 2024, I headed to Kanawha United Presbyterian Church in Charleston, W.Va., which marked the Presbyterian faith’s Scottish roots with a ‘Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans’ event. I got there as the Beni Kedem Highlanders Pipes and Drums entered the building at high volume (as you’ll see and certainly hear in the video above). My pal, Maggie Jusiel, piped additional decibels into the mix as they entered, since she and Tim Mainland of the wonderful Tim and Maggie duo were in town for the city’s Celtic Calling event.

The term ‘kirk’ is a Scottish word for ‘church’, and ‘The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans’ refers to the blessing of tartans associated with different Scottish families and clans. According to tradition (which apparently has not been proven historically, says this link), the ‘Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans’ originated out of a national loss. After defeating Jacobite forces in 1746 at the Battle of Culloden, the British government outlawed Highland dress. Legend has it that Scots would hide small pieces of tartan fabric on their person while attending church services. When it came time for the blessing, they would touch the bit of cloth. What is certain is that the ceremony has been popular since it originated as a fundraiser for British war relief in 1941.

Some of the tartan variations among the various Cameron clans.

All I know is that I am now ready for battle with any other clans that dis my tartan. Please note that you do not want to mess with the Cameron bloodline. We hold looooooong grudges. As this Cameron clan history reports, Clan Cameron was involved in a 300-year feud with Clan Mackintosh, which broke out in the 14th century. In more modern times, the Cameron clan history recounts that the Cameron Highlanders were the last battalion to wear kilts into battle, “due to a surprise German attack and deliberate delaying of orders during World War II.” For this the battalion earned the nickname of “The Ladies from Hell.”

Come to think of it, that may be the name of my next band.


‘THATAWAY MOON.’ | Off-ramp, Guyandotte, W.Va. | november2020 | theSTORYistheTHING.com | CLICK TO ENLARGE

My landscape iPhoneography veers between scenes of wild lands, waterways, and restorative woodscapes, onward to the architectural forms that rectilinear concrete and steel structures impose against blue skies and chiaroscuro clouds. If the human race succeeds in its enthusiastic pursuit of carbon-poisoning its own nest and we off the species, I suspect that some far-future alien archaeologists, newly arrived to check out the bony remains of a backwater world, will puzzle over the aim and meaning of the remnants of high-rise roadways to nowhere and brawny stanchions supporting nothing.



Speaking of wilder lands, above is a short, welcome visit I made recently to a sprawling West Virginia marshland out in Greenbottom, a short stroll from the Ohio River. Right now, Hoeft Marsh is all muted browns, tans, camouflage greens, and umber tones. In coming weeks, Spring will explode the place into yet more colorful life. The place is always full of exuberant nature, yet the marsh grows especially vibrant when the water lilies bloom into a thousand sparks of yellow and the wild blackberries bring the birds to earth.


‘THE DINER AT THE END of the WORLD’ | february2024 | Road Warrior Photography Bureau of theSTORYistheTHING.com | CLICK TO ENLARGE

Well, it is not quite the end of the world. That is, unless you took a seriously wrong turn out of downtown Paris, and wound up on the back road to St. Albans, W.Va., stopping in at the Red Line Diner (seen in the photo above), to ask for directions back to France and the Cafe De Flore, where you had hopes of sharing an espresso with the shades of Albert Camus and Papa Hemingway. Then, it would seem like the end of the world.


I’m very fond of mountains, too;
I like to travel through them in a car

I like a house that’s got a sweeping view;

I like to walk, but not to walk too far.

I also like green plains where cattle are,

And trees and rivers, and shall always quarrel

With those who think that rivers are immoral

~ from W.H. Auden’s “Letter to Lord Byron”



If it’s true we are mother, father, sister, brother, related all to all, maybe that’s one way to comprehend and befriend the ten thousand things. Take a relational visit with the hundreds of voices, cries, and songs rising from this manifold marsh … | READ ON

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