A major theme of this blog has been the restoration of rural America, and the promotion of the idea that the future of the United States rests in its rural areas and small towns. I have often touted the affordability and the decency of the country as major selling points to those looking for a change of scenery.
So this piece at The Abbeville Insitute—Travis Holt’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver“—grabbed my attention. Holt is a native son of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and he writes movingly about how his ancestors carved a livelihood out of the rough mountains of a challenging wilderness. He details the sweat and toil that went into improving the land, and of gradually expanding small family plots.
Holt also describes a process all-too-familiar in the New South: the commercialization of those hard-won family plots. Holt does not denounce the sale of family lands in general, as he recognizes the economic hardships and the lure of better lives, but he does lament the sacrifice of heritage, history, and family to the whims of the market. His essay grapples with the complexity of that loss, and his own determination to keep his familial lands.
It was another weekend on the road, which makes 2020 my most traveled year by far—one of the many weird paradoxes of The Age of The Virus.
Lately I’ve enjoyed a couple of weekend trips to the mountains of western North Carolina, and I’ve grown quite fond of them. When I was a child, we would go to my great-grandmother’s house in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, and these trips to North Carolina have reminded me of those childhood visits.
So, seeing as I got back this afternoon from the latest trip, I thought I’d dedicate this Lazy Sunday to the mountains:
“SubscribeStar Saturday: The Mountains” – This post detailed our explorations around Burnsville, North Carolina, during the weekend of my older brother’s fortieth birthday. We tried to visit Mount Mitchell, but the park was closed that Sunday afternoon for some mysterious reason. Otherwise, it was a wonderful trip!
“More Mountain Musings” – This piece expanded further on the Burnsville trip. I also reflect on the spirit of mountain folk, and their ability to subdue the wilds and carve a living from the hollers.
“SubscribeStar Saturday: Bearwallow Mountain” – I wrote this post about a hike up Bearwallow Mountain, outside of Hendersonville, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful hike up the mountain to a pastoral landscape. I uploaded some beautiful photos with this post, which give a good sense of the scenery.
That’s it for now! Time to get ready for another week of work. But my mind is still up on Bearwallow Mountain.
My uncharacteristic year of travel continued this weekend with a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, the hipster capital of the Southeast. After our family trip to Burnsville, North Carolina, my girlfriend was itching to get back to the mountains, so we decided to come up and spend a day exploring the area.
It’s the first weekend in a few weeks that’s it actually been cold, and we reveled in the cold mountain air. The high was around 60—perfect autumnal sweater weather. It also made the hike up Bearwallow Mountain more pleasant and endurable.
It was a very rushed trip, with my girlfriend and I departing around 11 AM Sunday to take in some sights before rushing back to prepare for our busy workweeks. We managed to spend a little time in Burnsville, which is named for Captain Otway Burns, a sailor and hero of the War of 1812. A statue of Captain Burns, erected in 1909, stands in the town square, with an inscription that reads, “He Guarded Well Our Seas, Let Our Mountains Honor Him.”
From there, we headed into the mountains, eventually reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our destination was Mount Mitchell State Park, which provides easy access to the summit of Mount Mitchell. Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, and the highest in the eastern continental United States.
My older brother turned forty on Thursday, and to mark that middle-aged milestone, he wanted to spend the weekend in the mountains outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Most of the clan got up here Thursday evening, but I wasn’t able to make it up until this morning. High school football dominates my Friday nights, and personal days are a precious commodity.
So, here are some quick reflections about my short trip to the mountains.