I don’t talk like one anymore. I don’t live there anymore – but I will always think of Appalachia, specifically Western North Carolina, home. I lived there from age 4-14, and most of my sense of what life should be like – full of slowness – comes from that culture.
When I need comfort or ease or just sheer simpleness, I look to Appalachia (pronounced with short A’s as in cat, not as in lay – only sociologists that aren’t from Appalachia pronounce it that way). Most recently, I’ve been looking into ghost stories from there (yes, Joe – ghosts again), because the Smoky Mountains are full of those stories. I’m looking for good collections that address ghosts or spirits or strange phenomenon, so if you know of any, let me know.
In Appalachia, I also know the appreciation for hard work – both manual labor and the simple duty and diligence it takes to create anything – a piece of writing, a great casserole of macaroni and cheese, a carefully carved walking stick. There’s something there that says the work of the hands feeds the work of the mind. And I know this in my own life because it’s when I’m sewing that I often feel the soft calmness that allows ideas to dance forward.
Right now, I live a bit away from this home of mine, but there are places I can find it. Photos, stories, and in this lovely journal Appalachian Heritage that is published out of Berea College in Kentucky. In their latest issue, they feature the work of singer/songwriter/author Billy Edd Wheeler (if you visit the site, you can even hear some of that music that always hold me still as if I’m in a cradle) as well as poetry of Wendell Berry and some great other writing. It’s definitely worth a read and a subscription.
And just to get you feeling like you’re there, here’s are a couple of photos of my beloved Smoky Mountains.
From a site about Cades Cove, not far from where I was raised.
From Camp Montvale, an adventure camp, in Maryville, Tennessee.
P.S. Today is the last chance to enter my giveaway for Between the Tides, so go ahead and post away.
P.P.S. And it’s sad that I left this to the bottom of the post, but today is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Wear a black ribbon to commemorate this great man. To learn more about him, visit The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.