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.

Appalachian blog


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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  • Reply
    jo an wineske
    March 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 8, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    March 8, 2013 at 9:20 am

    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!

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    March 8, 2013 at 8:10 am

    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!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    March 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Jose Luis
    March 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Susan C
    March 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Allison Britt
    March 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    * 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…………

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    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.”

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    We called your kill lettuce “scalded” or “smothered” lettuce.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    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 the people lived without modern conveniences
    4.the language
    5.would I enjoy living years ago

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Mel-LOL I dont think so : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    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….

  • Reply
    Mel H.
    March 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Is “kill lettuce” the same as kale greens?

  • Reply
    Sally Kennedy
    March 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    March 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    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.’

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    March 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    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
    4. MUSIC!
    5. HOME!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    March 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    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

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    March 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    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…

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 11:09 am

    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!

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 7, 2013 at 10:53 am

    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

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    March 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

    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

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

    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

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    March 7, 2013 at 10:38 am


  • Reply
    Gypsy Witch Hunter
    March 7, 2013 at 10:03 am

    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.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

    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

  • Reply
    Jeanette Dunaway
    March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    March 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    March 7, 2013 at 9:48 am


  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    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.

  • Reply
    Chuck G
    March 7, 2013 at 9:32 am

    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

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    March 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

    1. Mountains
    2. Country accents
    3. Cooking
    4. Religion
    5. Music

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 7, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Five things:
    Clear tumbling water.
    Summer revivals.
    Banjo music
    Yes mam’s & yes sir’s.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 9:09 am

    1. Mountains
    2. Dialect
    3. Country cooking
    4. Old-time religion
    5. Folks without a high falutin’ bone in their body

  • Reply
    Janice McCall
    March 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I was born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in north Alabama. My first thought of my foothills are:
    Four beautiful & distinct seasons
    Winding roads
    Friendly & hardworking people
    Delicous food prepared with love
    Coal mines

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Canning jars
    Hound dogs
    I suppose these are the things that make me feel Appalachia when I think of them.

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    March 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Smell of woodsmoke
    Sitting on the front porch talking about how hot it is.
    Sound of a wood screen door slamming

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    March 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

    There are so many things, but first things:
    My Grandpa
    My Grandma
    My Mother
    My Aunt

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 7, 2013 at 8:40 am

    1. My Grandmother with chickens, pigs, and cows.
    2. Making do and feeding many
    3. Canning food from the garden
    4. A sense of family and home
    5. These glorious mountains, they represent home to me.
    Thanks Tipper for the challenge, it’s good to put words to feelings and values so often taken for granted.
    Congratulations on your 5 year milestone. You have done a remarkable job of bringing your dream to life. You birthed it but now it has a life of it’s own!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

    1. Lush, green mountains
    2. Flowing water & waterfalls
    3. Generous, caring people
    4. Wonderful food
    5. Interesting genealogy
    I had to list the last because the deeper I dig into my roots, the more interesting the history of my family and their extended Appalachian family becomes.
    My wife’s birthday is March 10 and my Dad celebrates his 90th birthday on March 18 this year, so March is significant to me for other reasons in addition to the Blind Pig.

  • Reply
    Basel Hildreth
    March 7, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for the interesting post and happy birthday to Granny and the Blind Pig. Please keep up the good work.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 7, 2013 at 8:09 am

    1.Winding dirt roads
    2.Outdoor plumbing
    3.Rugged landscape with inhabitants to match
    4.The smell of fresh split firewood
    5.Homemade livermush
    Chosen from a flood of thoughts swirling in my mind.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

    1. People and their spirit of “derring-do”
    2. Places–and always within the blue ridges rising majestically
    3. Neighbor helping neighbor
    4. Passing on the culture from one generation to another
    5. “Making do” and being able to survive sometimes under great difficulties

  • Reply
    Eva Nelll Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    March 7, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Tipper: Five things that come to mind are
    Of course I could list one thousand thoughts – as it it difficult to ‘not think’ about those meaningful people, places and good food.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 7:46 am

    We ate what we raised, we raised what we ate.
    Hollers and coves
    Love for the land and the people

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 7, 2013 at 7:39 am

    My Mountains
    My Waters
    My Flowers and Trees
    My People
    My Home

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 7, 2013 at 7:15 am

    nice people
    hard working

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Tipper, this is one time I cannot follow the rules, as I have way too many to list from my beloved Appalachia. I would like to list from the past also. Appalachia brings to mind from times past: 1) Coalminers blackened faces, 2) people using front porch, 3) Numerous yards with vegetable gardens, 4) dinners on the ground (no longer celebrated) 5) jack of all trade men (they tackle plumbing or any other emergency) 6) cellars (where did they go?) (7 hunting wild greens (8 borrowing from a neighbor (9 Children playing until dark (10 capturing a jar of lightenin’ bugs. Now the present would have to be The Blind Pig which makes such an effort to capture and keep the customs which are fast dying in our Appalachia. Guess I made an F, but I still want in the drawing for the goodies!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    March 7, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Mountains, Music, the People, the food, the Gardens… All are a picture of Appalachia to me, not in that particular order,,but all part of a big picture…

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Hiden away homes
    Hardship and endurance

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