Monday, May 19, 2003

Balm in Gilead


Cousins,
I don't know why it is that I get lonely for the hills of Kentucky. I can't say why my mind races back there like the mind of a young boy thinking of his sweetheart. I don't reckon there is an answer in genetics, hormones or even environment.

I just know ever' now and again I get a cravin' flung on me to head home for the hills. It is as if the Appalachian mountains are full of sirens, calling to the poor unwitting mountain boy, calling him back over and over again to feed on the pleasure one takes in viewing the hills, the hollers, the rough cabins and wary peoples of the mountains.

I can close my eyes even now and hear them call, the hills of Kentucky. They sing a haunting harmony, calling to the heart of those born and bred there. Their song is sweet ...bittersweet even... with the toils and tears of a life that wore on those who lived there.

Do not think ever that it is or was an easy life. Clay Country, Kentucky, where my family started settling in about 1802, is one of the 3 poorest counties in the US. So it is not for the riches or income or promise of wealth that we seek the hills.

It is for the richness of a way of life, of friend and family, kith and kin. It is for the joy of listening to locusts on a hot July day and knowing that the tabaccer field is weeded, the animals fed and chores done. That joy comes in knowing you can rest for a spell. In the heat of the day you can sit on the porch and listen lazily to the laughter of a creek just there...at the end of the cabin.

If it gets hot enough, y'all might want to go down and just sit in that cool stream

If you go to the hills, don't stay long. If you do you will never forget the beauty. you will never lose sight of the hills. They will haunt you for the rest of your days. They will call like sirens as you dream. If you go and stay for long, you will be back.

I promise you will.
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