I’m Mark Lynn Ferguson. I grew up in an Appalachian valley where I could look in any direction and see a swell of mountains. They were tall; certain as pig iron; and blue, two shades darker than the nighttime sky.
Now they’re nowhere in sight. I live in Washington, DC. Through my row house window, I have a view of tarpapered roofs and power lines. There are high rises in the distance but no matter how hard I squint, I can’t see ridges or fir-covered peaks. The closest ones are fifty miles away.
I drive west a lot. At a certain point, I top a hillside and the horizon rises up, rolling in broad mountainous folds. After weeks in the city, it is a sight. Sometimes, my eyes get so watery I should pull over and wait for them to clear.
I hear that I’m not alone. Many folks love the Southern Appalachians. Some, like me, have mountain ancestors who were settlers. Others are true natives, their lineage reaching back for thousands of years. Then there are the visitors; they come to hike or rent a cabin, and they develop a fast affection for the place. They fall for the land and the distinctive lifestyle they can lead when they visit.
We have our own music, our own food, and an independence that is enviable in this day and age. It is a heritage worth sharing.
With my posts I try to capture this spirit and the true breadth of the region–coal mines to country inns–but I can’t do it alone. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, I hope you’ll take time to tell us about your memories, post your photos, and show your pride. Together, we can truly deliver the word from the Appalachian South.