Hello readers and all curious folks. Appalachia Bare is back and eager to deliver new content! We’ve made some subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes to the site but still kept our Appalachian charm. I thought I’d take a little time and share our intentions for 2021. I say intentions because nothing’s set in stone, per say, but one thing I can promise: we’ll work diligently to provide the best stories of and from Appalachia. Let’s take a road trip and explore the coming year.
Our road takes us through more Appalachian Connections where we discover what joins certain well-knowns like Tennessee Williams or Carl Sandburg to Appalachia. As our jalopy crests the top of a hill, we take a panoramic view of Appalachian surnames and the region’s unique locale names. We pass by the lives and achievements of the region’s heroes and heroines, writers and poets, playwrights and critics, musicians and dancers, artists and architects. We fumble with the radio and rediscover Appalachian music and the instruments therein; and meander along the talents of Appalachia’s current authors and their writings. A bridge ahead connects us to a small town and we slow roll past an old classic movie theatre. The ancient marquee’s letters read: “‘Where the Lilies Bloom’ and Other Appalachian Movies.’”
Back on the road, the old rattletrap sputters toward a lookout, so we park and stretch our legs. Our eyes are greeted with a wide expanse of Appalachian diversity, identities, and religions and they stop to tell their stories. A museum just up the way houses a plethora of histories and biographies. We wander through the gift shops, pick up a few Appalachian novelties and a jar or two of jelly. A book about Appalachian language catches our eye as we wait in line, so we peruse “them pages n’took hit with us.”
Looking at the old jalopy, it’s clear she needs a rest, so we walk through the woods and discover the region’s native trees, plants, animals, and insects. And we avoid the dark places where portals or haints and such may dwell. A camera from our bag captures images of maple trees, deer, mountain blue birds, and ginseng. The scenery takes on the likeness of our Great Smoky Mountains National Park or Chimney Rock State Park or Big South Fork, etc. We trek across a stream or two and stop by a lake where a few fishermen sit peaceful underneath a shade tree. Our bellies issue a collective growl. We turn our way back to the ancient clunker and begin our quest to find the perfect local diner with a menu made-to-order.
Finally, we reach our destination and unwind a little. A newspaper rests atop an empty table so we skim across the headlines about coal ash, politicians, joblessness, scandals, and feuds. And we note the irony of Good Samaritan stories buried on page 8A. Our food arrives and we chow down as the jukebox in the corner plays an odd mixture of bluegrass, rap, country, soul, and K-pop. With full bellies, we trudge back to the old, rusty girl and take the journey back home. Our minds wander to an Appalachia that’s filled with so many wonders and connections: history, science, people, places, photography, literature, poetry, music, art, intelligence, performance, film, religion, pastimes, food, travel, nature, magic(k), and more than a fair share of sins and sinners.
Before we know it, we’re home. Home. Later, in the night, we take our cup of hot tea, wander onto the porch, lean across the railing, and raise our head to the star-speckled the sky. And we look forward to what we’ll encounter tomorrow.