Appalachia Through My Eyes - Taking Pictures In Mirrors

Appalachia = Five Things

Yesterday's post about Granny's birthday got me to thinking about another birthday-the Blind Pig & The Acorn's birthday. Every March I think-"Wow I've made it one more year as a blogger."

I decided to look back through the first posts I wrote and guess what the Blind Pig's birthday is the same as Granny's-March 6th. I guess when March 6 rolls around-I've always been too busy thinking about Granny's special day to realize it was also a special day for the Blind Pig. 

Appalachian Nation was the 3rd post published here on the Blind Pig in March of 2008. I'd like to share a portion of that post with you today, and an update on my thoughts from the post.

Where is appalachia

As I made the decision to develop a blog about my Appalachian Heritage I started thinking about what Appalachia really means to me? It's a word I've heard all my life. It's home. But there is a disconnect about what the word Appalachia brings to mind and what it actually stands for.

I read an article by Michael Montgomery that discussed the myths connected with Appalachian English. After leaving east Tennessee (deep in the heart of Appalachia) where he was raised, he realized he had bought into some of the myths that surround Appalachia. In his mind he had thought of Appalachia as being somewhere other than east Tennessee.

After reading Mr. Montgomery's article I realized I had been influenced by some of the same myths. To test myself I decided to name the first 5 things that came to my mind when I thought about the word Appalachia. Surprise! My first thought was banjo.

Pap and Paul picking and grinning

I come from a musical family but no one played a banjo so where did that come from? Most of my thoughts seemed reasonable. Although, some of the random ones I could not connect to having lived in Appalachia my entire life.

I would like to challenge you to list the first 5 things that come to mind when you think of the word Appalachia. It doesn't matter if you're a native Appalachian, have lived here for years, are a new comer, or have never even been here. Just take the challenge.

I'm not sure which will be more interesting the responses from the natives or from those who have never lived here.

      My List 2008

  1. Banjo
  2. Weathered Barn
  3. Quilts
  4. Corn Fields
  5. Granny lady in long dress and apron


After blogging about Appalachia for the last 5 years my list is different than it was back in 2008. When I think of the word Appalachia today in 2013-the following immediately come to mind:

  1. Mountains
  2. Blind Pig & the Acorn
  3. The rich colorful language of Appalachia
  4. Music 
  5. Traditional Appalachian food 

From the very first post one of my goals for the Blind Pig was: My hope is that through this blog I can begin to understand how the love for the past can be woven into a hope for the future as well as an appreciation for the present.

The change in my list tells me something about myself. It shows how much I've learned about Appalachia since I first started blogging. My first list shows Appalachia as one dimensional and flat-to the point that I could set up cardboard cutouts to represent each aspect.

Today's list-shows the truth about Appalachia: 

Mountains-from below western NC-all the way to PA. People scattered along and in between the Appalachian Mountains drawn together by culture.

Blind Pig & The Acorn-celebrating and preserving Appalachia in a real way on a daily basis-with YOUR help.

Language of Appalachia-lovely accents with ancient words and phrases sprinkled throughout a dialect that is rich, expressive, and full of meaning.

Music-guitars-mandolins-fiddles-pianos-dulcimers-drums-clarinets-horns-etc.-and yes banjos! Gospel-Bluegrass-Traditional-Folk-Country-Rock-Punk-Jazz-etc. You can find it ALL in Appalachia.

Appalachian Food-biscuits-kill lettuce-cornbread-chocolate gravy-side meat-sorghum syrup-pickled beans and corn-kraut-fried squash-tomatoes-ramps-and on and on.

I now fully understand Appalachia is a vast area that contains a wealth of jewels no one could ever represent with 5 cardboard cutouts. 

Please leave me a comment with a list of the first 5 things that come to mind when you think of the word Appalachia.


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smoking rag, ward off the nats outdoors, swimming in the creek, baths in a wash tub.home made butter . oh the dasys only found you site thisyear love ,,,thank you

Happy, Happy Birthday, Blind Pig!!! Ya'll have made my life much richer!! My List: 1. West Virginia-the home of my heart 2. DNA- I'm hardwired to be Appalachian. If I'm anywhere else, I'm just a square peg that doesn't fit into a round hole. 3.Mountains without end. 4. Mountain people who walk what they talk. 5. Grandmaw's bonnet.

Happy Birthday to the Blind Pig and Granny! You've done a great job Tipper. I've certainly enjoyed the Blind Pig and I think we've all learned a great deal!

Happy Anniversary!!! I think I've been with you since almost the beginning. Wish I could remember how I found you all. I know I've sure enjoyed the ride so far and I can wait for the next hundreds of miles to go!

A belated but very sincere Happy Birthday to Granny...what a delightful poem. I hope that Tipper shares more of your heart's offerings.

Being a flatlander from LA and MS, we would describe Appalachia as...
> Breathtaking long range vistas from the mountain roads.
> Friendly and Genuine People
> Clean air that smells like sunshine in the daytime and stars at night
> Music that sings right in your heart, especially the dulcimer
> John Campbell Folk School, teaching heritage arts

I must stretch my list to include the Blind Pig and Family, who have brought to life All Things Appalachian. Your readers are blessed with you sharing what's on your heart and mind every day.
I dare say that many of your readers would love to pack up and move to somewhere in the Western NC area to experience the life you describe so beautifully.

When we vacation in Clay County, we begin planning our next trip up there when our truck turns onto the mountain lane heading to the highway back South.

Mountains, music on the porch, quilts on the clothesline, corn cribs, and pig pens.

I must admit, I'm a bit ashamed of my first thoughts of Appalachia; they were poverty and sadness. But in reading Blind Pig through the time I've been subscribed, I've learned the lives in Appalachia are far richer than those who live high on the hog in big cities. You're survivors who can make it through thick and thin. Your families stick together, no matter what besets you. And in truth, you live in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and I admire you.

God bless.


dear Tipper
From this blessed land Argentina, I want to receive in your Appalachian the hottest ones, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AND THE BLIND PIG ACORN!, And all who live there, God bless and keep forever!
I've never been in those mountains, but from reading your stories and anecdotes, I feel even the smell of smoke coming from the chimneys of the houses and mix with the mist of the morning, when just beginning to poke the sun.
With the audacity to give me the years, I have read a lot about your history and culture, to an "Argentine gaucho" is not difficult to associate what can be felt and remembered sensations summarized in five Appalachian inspiring word, and that crossing our forests, rivers, lakes and mountains in Patagonia on the Andes can feel something very similar.
For me Appalachians means:
1.Pines, mountains, streams and people fishing.
2.The smell of freshly baked bread on a wooden table strong, and grandmother wiping her hands on her apron.
3.Padres and children wearing bib and brace overalls, banjo, guitars and mandolins.
4.Cerrar a business with just a handshake and a goodbye ... God bless you!
5.Mantener family together something so difficult in these crazy times we live in,
remember the traditions, food and music.
Tipper and family, see you soon ... God bless you.
José Luis, from Buenos Aires.

Thank you, Tipper, for your wonderful way with words and the many, many stories. Even a big city girl from the flat lands of Charlotte can be adopted by the mountains and the wonderful people with their fine heritage.

* Fishing the New River.

* Never-ending fields of Beans, Tobacco, Corn, Fir Trees, Hay,...

* Bumpy, graveled Roads

* Mammaws Biscuits

* Walks in the woods.

Enjoyed relating to the other comments on The Blind Pig............

1 Honest hard working people
2 Hunting game and berries with Dad, uncles and cousins
3 Family gardens
4 People willing to share even when they had very little
5 Tables piled high with good home grown and home cooked food

I probably could have lumped the last four together under 'food'.
Every visit to family or neighbor leads to an invitation to, "Sit down and eat with us."

The first 5 things that come to
mind when I think of Appalachia
1. Our beautiful Mountains
2. The fastest flowing major
river East of the Mississippi...
The beautiful Nantahala River
3. Corn Fields
4. Our Music
5. Friends and Family


We called your kill lettuce "scalded" or "smothered" lettuce.

When I think of Applachia these are the five things that come to my mind -
1.the seasons in the mountains
2.their history and the people
3.how the people lived without modern conveniences
4.the language
5.would I enjoy living years ago

Mel-LOL I dont think so : )

Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Fiddlers, especially the ones that never learned to read music

Mountain-top churches and preachers that preached without pay.

Folks working out their tobacco crop with mules.


Menfolk standing up and removing their hats when a lady entered the room.

It's OK to think of banjos when you think of Appalachia, Earl Scruggs said we could. Besides, banjos grow in the forests of the Appalachian mountains, right next to the fiddles....

Is "kill lettuce" the same as kale greens?

1. Foothills - I grew up in Ohio where Appalachia begins.
2. Mountains - from my travels through Kentucky and Tennessee
3. Heritage - my ancestors came to Ohio after living in West Virginia
4. Music - all the great music from the region
5. History - so much history!

the "heart" of America
old fashioned food
country folks socializing on the front porch and saying, 'you'll come back now and don't be a stranger.'

I missed my yesterday's visit so Happy belated Birthday to both Granny (great poem by the way) and the "Blind Pig".

When I thought what Appalachia brought to mind, I only saw one thing---one unifying thing that encompasses many things. I saw a people. A people of love, integrity, ingenuity and compassion. A people that are my kin, although my direct ancestors moved from Appalachia many generations ago. I see you--all of you--in the living photographs that are my own people. I see it in their work hardened hands. I see you in the pain and compassion of their tears for each other. I see you in the joy of their hug and cheek kissed greeting or the sorrow of the same actions at my departure. I see you in their satisfaction of a life well lived, no matter how grand or how humble.

I see a wonderful people who are the very essence of the land they inhabit. I see a people that I am proud to call my friends, my neighbors-----my kin.

Although we long ago left the mountains for the hills and some have left the hills for the flat----WE-- both you and I are still much more alike than different.

What a wonderful celebration of the people of Appalachia is 'The Blind Pig and the Acorn'. God bless all who celebrate with you.

Happy Birthday Blind Pig! Tipper, here's to many more BP birthdays to come. What Appalchia means to me:

1. Beautiful mountains
2. Sunday supper
3. Family to depend on
5. HOME!

I know when I visit, I don't want to leave. When I'm home, I long for those mountains. So... I make do until I can get back.

1. Peace & contentment
2. Mountains
3. Traditional Crafts
4. Mountain Dulcimer
5. Cornbread

Good/Bad/or Ugly-here it comes...

Mountains with Forests
The Folk School
The Creator

I haved lived in Appalachia for 35 years--in my mind, down here in the S. C. sand. But it's not bad...

To me Appalachia IS high country. I was never lucky enough to live there but I could see it from a distance. That word brings to mind:

Mountains with clouds touching their tops.

Old stores with gravel yards and Merrita Bread signs with The Lone Ranger on them, Rooster Snuff signs, and screen doors with Colonial Bread printed on the screen, and all those ubiquitous Coca Cola and RC signs.

That indescribable pleasant smell on the mountain.

All those beautiful authentic people that populated the area.

A Bluebird perched on a weathered, wooden, mailbox on a spring morning.

You know, if I had lived there I WOULD have been an ambassador for the high country!

beautiful winding roads up and over the mountains

old barns

traditions and family


homemade with love

and to think of it.... You Tipper :)
you are all the above and thank you so much for having this blog and teaching us all so much of the history and legends.
big ladybug hugs

Tipper this is what I think of :

My family
Hound dogs
Dinner on the grounds after church
My Granny's sun bonnet
Isolated but not lonely

Mountains - That's all of WV

Simple - life is simpler here

Coal - It impacts everything in WV

Comfort - It goes with the mountains but also with about everything here in WV. The area's mountains and people and food and language, all of it sort of surrounds a person here and makes us truly of Appalachia

Old - there are still many people here who practice the old ways. Sure, most like progress, but it doesn't have to eliminate what makes us appreciate the mountains and the people and the history around which our state is built


1) "The Homestead" - 400 acre tobacco farm, isolated as it stands-and even that wasn't enough for Pappy-so he took up all the boards from the covered bridge. To get in, he had to lay em down for ya...one by one off the bed of the pickup.

2) Granny's Tonic - spoonful per foot of height, followed by a spoonful of sorghum & there was no escaping it-even Pappy learned to stand in the row with the rest of us!

3) Canning in the outdoor "canning kitchen" & watching the sun gleam off the rows of goodies.

4) Pappy sneaking me into the smokehouse to cut me off a strip because he thought I was a little peaked.

5) Evenings on the porch - more fun than anything in the world! Especially when the 'shine was being passed.

Congratulations! I'm happy Blind Pig is still here, I really enjoy reading what you write every day.

Gardens producing fresh veggies and fruits
'Real' people

Bible belt, kin folk, hospitality, waterfalls, clean mountain air

I was not born there, although I have lived there 4 years at an earlier time. I will be moving back in 4 weeks and hope that it will be the final resting place for my husband and myself. It always feel like HOME.

My list;
The comfort of seeing mountains.
Proud,independent people who make do or do without, yet are always readt to lend a helping hand.
Kraut and all the good foods.
Music, especially the fiddle, I hear it sing in my blood as I listen.
Country churches, families, and kindred spirits.


1. Strong family ties. 2. Stubborn independence. 3. Rugged individuals working hard to exist. 4. People honor memories of their ancestors. 5. Pride in the first four.

From the midst of Minnesota's glorious white I think back on my years in eastern Kentucky's hills in the 1990s--

--the trailers, the trailers!
--the music of the dialect anytime anyone said anything
--the hollers with their trash-filled creeks
--the lush green that covered, smothered, cradled all
--the interminable rumble of the coal trucks

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