Friday, May 6, 2011

Appalachian Summer II

Berries & branches, wild flowers & the fragrance of summer Tobacco barn on the Hal Rogers Parkway

The verdant greenery of the Cumberland Pass

The Kentucky River flows slow & smooth

Beautiful hollers hide away around many a curve

Appalachian hollers are hot. Little wind and few breezes find their way down from the trees lining ridges above us. Storms seem to move over us, or move up the least resistant roadways and rivers. The air we breathe in the summer is sultry and cloying, sticking our clothing to us like slippery Velcro. Even the birds go back to sleep for the day, dogs loll about lazy in the shade, and the hydrangea leaves droop like a basset hound’s ears.

Summer is a time for gardens. Most everyone seems to have one somewhere in their holler--if not theirs, someone in their family has one. I have seen the most beautiful gardens of my life back in these hills. Pole beans climb many feet into the air, making me half believe the Jack & the Beanstalk story. Corn, potatoes, melons, peas, beans and more; they’re all there.

Summer is a time for enjoying the spectacular beauty of these mountains. Many enjoy riding four-wheelers and horses up and down narrow trails; four wheelers are also commonly used for transportation on the local roads. Children splash in creeks and rivers, or if they’re lucky they have an above-ground pool in their back yard. Some make a day of visiting one of several water parks in the region. Fishermen and water buffs enjoy the many lakes and rivers, some creating huge recreational places by damming up their waters. Southeast Kentucky is a place of dreams for the outdoor enthusiast.

Summer is a time of reunions, of sitting on the front porch and watching the world go by, of Vacation Bible School in local churches, baseball, and children home from school. One thing that summer does not seem to bring to mountain people is travel and vacation. Most seem content to stay at home, even when they have the means to travel. For the many unemployed in the area, it seems the times of year run together without much interruption of schedules. For those who work and take time off, most enjoy their time at home on the porch. I have found the rare person who thinks about faraway places, but for most it seems the best place of all is right at home in the mountains.

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