Introduction

 

INTRODUCTION

Tens of millions of years before the shape of mankind was discernible among the teaming mass of animal life, a great sea covered much of what is now North America. The silt and sediments of the ages formed separate layers like steps rising slowly from the depths, each marking its own time since the creation. Then, at a time known only by The Creator, the seas began to withdraw, drying up leaving a barren coastal plain. But the Earth was not at rest and it groaned and heaved  with a tremendous push–as a woman in the final stages of labor–and it gave birth to the Appalachian Mountains.

Once as mighty as the Rockies, The Appalachians bore the brunt of time and time mellowed them. Sharp, craggy spires became mostly soft, tree-covered rolling hills as the winds and rain of countless millennia beat relentlessly on them. From a distance the Blue Ridge Mountains (Wikipedia) are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. This province consists of northern and southern physiographic regions, which divide near the Roanoke River gap. The mountain range is located in the eastern United States, starting at its southernmost portion in Georgia, then ending northward in Pennsylvania. To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley, bordered on the west by the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian range.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are noted for having a bluish color when seen from a distance. Trees put the “blue” in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.

In every tale is a kernel of truth. Such is my method here. The tales I tell come from a mind still somewhat bright but also somewhat forgetful. I have been inspired by several of the true story-tellers who have walked through the valleys and hollows, up and down the wooded mountainsides. Some of what is written here is word-for-word from the original authors and some is the effect of my taking the basic ideas and presenting them in my own words—or better still, in the words of the mountain folk.

The idea for this book of stories about the fabled land I have come to love was in part inspiration, motivated by my daughter Debbie, who married her “Mountain Man” Kevin, and lives in the shadow of the Black Mountain Range near Micaville in Western North Carolina. The books Debbie led me to charged me with so many ideas.

My quest began in the early 1980’s, but life is full of complications and challenges. I put the books aside telling myself I would eventually get back to them. At the moment I write this these words I am acutely aware that I have nearly run out of time—for in a few months I will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my 30th birthday.

I have left undone those things I ought to have done, and I have done those things which I ought not to have done… and there is no health in me. (The Confession from The Episcopal Church, The 1928 Book of Common Prayer—personalized by me.)

So is it now to late to fulfill my mission? Of course not. For most of my adult life I have felt a need to accomplish something important, something self-fulfilling. But despite several different careers and the miss-steps I made in most of them, I still have an emptiness—something is missing. The answer came to me during a fitful slumber. The voice I heard said, “Stop thinking about yourself and think about others.”

Well… can I write the Great American Novel and entertain millions? Probably not, but I can write to bring a smile or two or to force a tear from my readers.

Below is a list of the books I had saved lo these many years, and I am re-reading them for inspiration.

I bought my first computer, a PC from Radio Shack, back in the mid-1990’s. I could not touch type then nor can I do it now. I created several free Google websites until sometime around 2008 when I signed up for web hosting from BlueHost. One of my most successful blogs is www.blindhogblogger.com, and it still gets several hundred visitors each month. I currently use an iPhone, iPad and a Lenovo laptop/notebook, and at my age thet’s sayin’ sumthin’.

Literary Sources

One of God’s Children

Robert B. Phillips

© 1982

Grandfather Tales

Edited by: Richard Chase

© 1976

Stories ‘Neath the Roan

Collected by the Blue Ridge Reading Team

© 1993

Stories Worth Telling – More Stories Neath the Roan

Collected by the Blue Ridge Reading Team

© 1996

Cabins in The Laurel

Muriel Earley Sheppard

© 1935, 1991

A History of Mt. Mitchell and The Black Mountains

S. Kent Schwarzkopf

© 1985

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DP

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