Although Appalachia is most often associated with poverty, it is also a region of richness and beauty — both in the natural world and in the ties that bind its people to one another and to the land.
This lake on my brother’s farm was a huge field when I was growing up. Every spring, after days of rain, the river — just beyond the trees, flooded the field and water spilled over onto the nearby road. We were trapped sometimes for days, so we socialized, rode bikes, played board games. Unexpected “vacations” are often the best kind.
People in this region have always been close to the land and its inhabitants. Baby chicks and pigs usually ended up on the table for Sunday dinner; sometimes wild animals — rabbits and squirrels and deer — ended up there, too. Horses and cows, being able to work/supply milk, were luckier.
The mountains and meadows of Appalachia are especially pretty in spring with the wild dogwood and redbud blooming and in summer when everything is lush and green. The darker trees just beyond the meadow line the banks of a tributary of the Cumberland River. The river takes a horseshoe, or U turn, so to go from this meadow to the distant hills, you have to cross the river twice. Its waters can run calm and deep green or turn wild and muddy during the spring. In my book, To Come and Go Like Magic, this meadow is very much like the one where yellow sulphur butterflies gather in summer. It’s full of blue dragonflies, too, and moles and mice, and maybe a snake or two.