Sunday, April 1, 2012

A-Z Challenge - A is for Appalachia

When I first saw this challenge in the blog-o-sphere, I thought, what will I choose for a theme? And then it hit me. This crazy place I've made my home for the past fifteen years would make a fine topic. You see I came from Alabama with a banjo on my knee (not really, but a banjo would fit in swell up here), by way of a year in Arizona, by way of some years in Atlanta, and ended up an hour north of Asheville, North Carolina in the heart of Appalachia.
The dictionary definition of Appalachia according to Wikipedia: Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern AlabamaMississippi, and Georgia.


But it's wrong. Appalachians (Apple-a-chuns NOT Apple-ay-chee-uns) will not claim anything above the Mason-Dixon line and it must be mountainous. And as a pure-bred south Alabamian (now there's a lofty distinction) - there's no way I would have claimed being Appalachian  prior to moving here.

But what is right is the word, cultural. This region is one of a few left in the USA that stills hangs on to culture created by isolation. It's twisted, and odd, and lovely, and beautiful, all at the same time. It's taken me a long time to get over my own xenophobia, but bad people are bad people and good people are good people and they exist in every faction, doesn't matter where you live. I've moved beyond my hillbilly fears and occasionally you might even catch me saying "yalla" for yellow or "flyers" for flowers. And if you need a favor, "Why, I wouldn't care to a bit." (P.S. That means I'll do it)


In the summer, when this tree is blooming, the whole place smells like apples. And that's a good thing.

So, because I want to know you, have you ever moved some place with scary preconceptions only to have them pleasantly shattered? What did you find? 



37 comments:

  1. My family moved to Tennessee from Northern Indiana and I had the stereotyped preconceptions of backward folk. I grew to love East Tennessee (not far from where you were) and still think of it as home even though now I'm in Los Angeles. Hopefully I'll move back their someday. I have a lot of friends and family there.
    Good start to the Challenge. Hope you have a great time with it.


    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  2. Beautiful first post for the challenge!

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  3. Interesting post. A few years ago i followed a blog by a young man walking the Appalachian Trail and was totally enthralled by the idea, it sounds like a most wild and beautiful part of the world.
    thanks for sharing
    martine

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  4. That's neat Lee that you're familiar with this area.

    Thanks Kyra and Martine! Martine the App trail runs through my county.

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  5. I grew up in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mtns and still live there - "country" living is all I've ever known :)

    I have encountered people while on vacation that gladly give their opinion of the region where I live, although it's not so much the Appalachians that people know when you say "I'm from Virginia" - it's this idea that we're all a bunch of Civil War reenactors who are impatiently waiting for the South to rise again (yes, I actually had someone say this to me).

    Oh, and it's amazing how many people don't seem to realize Virginia and West Virginia aren't the same state.

    Can't wait to read more about your topic!

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  6. Jennifer - there's a book called Confederates in the Attic that's about this Jewish guy from NY that traveled through the south doing interviews, it's a hoot and some of that does still exist.

    My grandfather, upon meeting a friend who claimed NY as her birthright said to her "Well - would you like to see some Confederate $" I've laughed about that for years.

    But that's neat you're so close. Some parts of Virginia are definitely included in Appalachia.

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  7. What a great tree! The place you live sounds wonderful. In answer to your question--I lived in many places and all the great ones have a crazy twisted history to them. Now I am living in a place surrounded by viking graves.

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  8. Thanks for giving me an insider view of Appalachia. My biggest change was to move from a more conservative (bigger is better) Long Island, NY to a very liberal (small carbon footprint) Cambridge, MA. I fit in better here.

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  9. In 1971, we moved away from MD, with excellent schools, and came to GA. I still think the schools here are somewhat lacking, but our children got good educations, in spite of my concerns. But I've loved it here from day one.

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  10. I know people who have a stereotype of most Southern, isolated areas and the people. It's based on the movie Deliverance.

    I'm always nervous about small towns where everyone knows everyone else, and they know immediately you don't belong. But it usually happens that the people are very welcoming.

    Good luck on the challenge. I look forward to reading more.


    Christine @ Coffee in the Garden

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  11. Ah yes - Deliverance - puts the fear in many the rafting man's heart.

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  12. Great start. And did you know that District 12 in The Hunger Games is probably in the Appalachians?

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  13. Yes Donna - they filmed most of the arena scenes just south of Asheville in Dupont State Park. A couple of kids at the school where I teach were extras.

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  14. No but I've moved some place with positive expectations only to have them horribly shattered - which is where I am now.

    I'm going to love your site I can tell - literary outdoorsy and dog loving :)

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  15. Love the post. Can't wait to read more :D

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  16. Great way to start off the challenge! I love the pic of the tree!

    Happy A-Zing!

    My A-Z!

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  17. Cool. I lived in Ecuador for a couple of years. Its a beautiful country but I'm glad to be back in Canada.

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  18. What a beautiful metaphor for life and I'm in love with that apple tree! Thanks for this lovely post.

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  19. First time reading your blog. Found you through the A to Z challenge. Beautiful post and photo. Good Luck for the rest of the alphabet and I look forward to reading more.

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  20. First time reading your blog. Found you through the A to Z challenge. Beautiful post and photo. Good Luck for the rest of the alphabet and I look forward to reading more.

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  21. It looks like you are in a lovely place! Always wanted to see the Appalachian country!

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  22. You've lived in a lot of "A" places!

    We lived in two different parts of the same city, and it was like two different worlds sometimes. Parts of both were good, parts of some were horrible, but I've found that I'm happy wherever my husband and son travel with me!

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  23. Oh, smells like apples! Methinks you live in a paradise.

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  24. I just visited Asheville last May and loved it!!! I've always loved the Blue Ridge. Though I did not realize that Appalachian so cultural distinct. Thank you for the introduction!

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  25. I love that area you live in so much. My sis has a house in the mountains. "How're you'uns?" I hear that a lot.

    My mom was living in assisted living in south Georgia for several months before she died and I marveled at how just plain nice everyone is down there.

    Love A post. :)

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  26. Hi Jaye. I enjoyed reading your post. I've only driven through S.C., and I found it to be very beautiful.

    To answer your question, my husband and I had a hard time understanding the culture in Hawaii when we first moved here six years ago. Since our son was born, we've learned that the people of Hawaii are incredibly giving, caring, and family-oriented.

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  27. Lovely post and lovely photos. I've lived in a lot of places in several different countries, but I've never been anywhere near the heart of Appalachia. One day, maybe. It's on my list!

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  28. Living in a pretty isolated area myself, I know exactly what you mean. But there's something really nice about a culture that has kept true for so long. A lovely first post.

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  29. My adventures right now are basically to experience life in different places :) So, yeah, definitely I've had to reconsider my previous notions, and come to really love the areas I've been able to travel to! You are very right in saying good people/bad people are what they are, and they are independent of any given place!

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  30. A beautiful post elegantly written. I can't say that I've moved anywhere to have a perception shattered (and we moved a lot in the military). Having said that, we never lived in the mountains, so I don't know how that would shake out.

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  31. Building our house in The Compound was a scary thing. The pros far, far outweigh the cons, and most of the pros are things we hadn't even thought of during our planning.

    I wish you could bottle that apple scent and ship me some!

    Thanks for teaching me something in your lovely post. I'll be back!

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  32. Yes, the place I live now is pretty freaking scary and I had no idea it would be. It's a small town...so small it's like high school. Everyone knows your business even before you do. I spend most days hiding under my covers.

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  33. I've lived in so many places over the years after growing up in New England. None of them were scary at the time but if I had to move back to some of them now, it would be. Good topic...and we love middle TN and have 5 acres there for when we finally get off the road.

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  34. I love this post so much! As a Canadian, I've been fascinated by Appalachia so your post educated me a lot! I'm from Nova Scotia, Canada, and your post reminded me a lot of mainland maritimes vs the outliers. At first the Newfoundlander's accents and funny colloquialisms were strange to me--now I love them!

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  35. I grew up in the Southern Tier of NY, and now live in the Central (or Upstate depending on who you talk to) part of the state. No matter where I go, I’m accused of being a “New Yorker” (read: inhabitant of NYC). I got tired of explaining that the village I grew up in is now so small it’s considered a hamlet. LOL! Ah, perceptions.

    Looking forward to reading through you’re A-Z Appalachia postings!

    PS, my sig other has a banjo. Thank gawd he lent it to his son… who lives in NYC. :)

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Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it 'your two cents?'