Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Least Leaf

My life in appalachia the least leaf

Chatter has a real life pen pal! She met her at the folk school last summer-and ever since they’ve been exchanging letters via the US Postal system. The letters are pages long, chock full of the happenings of the girls’ lives.

Chatter’s last letter had a surprise hidden in the folded pages-the least little leaf you ever saw! It was perfectly pressed with lovely sharp edges and veins that ran up and down it’s sections like a road map.

The way Chatter carried on over that leaf you’d have thought she’d got a million dollars in the mail. I thought sending a leaf in a letter was one of the coolest things ever! I also wanted to know why I didn’t think of sending someone a leaf! After I studied on the leaf for a few days I decided its value was well above a million dollars.

Up north a sweet girl looked through the outdoors until she spotted the exact leaf she wanted to send her friend. She tucked the leaf between the words that told the stories of her recent days. She sealed the envelope, affixed the stamp, and placed the letter in a mailbox with anticipation, wondering all the while if her friend in Brasstown would be pleased by the addition of the leaf. A girl in the mountains of NC happily claimed the letter from her mailbox down the road. She could barely stand the walk home with the excitement of waiting to read the words her friend had written. But as her eyes eagerly sought the message within-the girl was stopped in wonderment over the perfectness of a leaf.

Yep. 1 leaf = 1,000,000+ dollars


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    March 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I’m so glad the thrill of exchanging letters has not gone completely the way of the dinosaurs! I don’t know what my childhood and teen years would have been like without the joy of sending and receiving handwritten letters.
    Pressing leaves and sometimes flowers is something I have done my whole life. Sometimes I’ll open a book and come upon one, and it’s always a sweet surprise.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 12:20 am

    What a neat thing! And real letters too. Seems like a thing of the past but I’m glad to know that young people still do that.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    What a sweet sentiment! Chatter is clearly very lucky to have such a caring pen pal!!!
    I remember doing things like this decades ago – sometimes a tiny forget-me-not blossom, sometimes a four-leafed clover, sometimes a lipsticked kiss (remember SWAK? “Sealed with a kiss” on the back of an envelope), sometimes a dot of perfume, or a tiny piece of lovely, fragile lace or colorful ribbon.
    If you’re old enough, do you remember tucking tiny sentiments like these into your hand-written letters long ago?
    How sad so many children of today will never experience things like this; with their copious amounts of texts and emails, etc. – all bereft of the sweetness of times past.
    It’s surely proof technology improves some things, yet ruins others. How tragic for society’s youth of today!!!
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    March 26, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I have collected special leaves, rocks, and feathers for years, will soon b e 81 years old and still collecting Also have a 94 year old pen pal in Fla. Mother Earth gives us many treasures. Love to all.
    Joy Newer

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 26, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I have a friend who is very dear to me living in far away (in so many ways) New York City. I was out of town when she left here, so she left a lovely card in my mailbox. Even more beautiful was the perfectly heart shaped leaf tucked inside. Yep, I felt like a millionaire that day!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    That leaf might just be the very thing
    to hold Chatter’s memory of a lifetime
    friend. A Friend will stick closer than
    a brother!
    When I was little and growin’ up, our
    bologny didn’t even have a name, but
    I still got some of my lifetime friends.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 26, 2014 at 11:03 am

    just goes to show that gifts don’t have to be showy or expensive — sharing a leaf spoke volumes of how much a friend was thinking of another. I love that they are writing “real” letters, that is almost a rarity these days. One year on a Fall vacation ramble to NC I collected small, colorful leaves and put them in a Chinese box for a birthday gift for a coworker who had remarked how much she missed the leaf change.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

    WOW! Very glad that Chatter and her pen pal are sharing in what has truly become a lost art. In my opinion,page-long letters sure beat texting any day. I loved the sharing of the leaf and the joy it certainly gave both girls.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Wonderful! – The leaf, the letters, and the reminiscences and ponderings of your readers.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Lone Leaf
    One little leaf was chosen
    by the hands of the youth
    one would think this one was
    nay! nay! this is one out of millions but this one was chosen special that was touched by the Master’s hand first.
    -Mary Lou McKillip

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 26, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Back in the fifties, my sweet little friend moved to SC…I was so lonesome! She and I filled coloring books on winter days and played jacks on the porch in the summer. She couldn’t run and play ball like the rest of us. Oh, I could play “rolley-bat” with the boys…but I preferred more girly things…We exchanged addresses, actually our Mothers did and said they would write. Weeks passed into a month or so…Then the day came when I got a hand written letter from my friend, who struggled to write, but her handwriting “cursive” was getting better and better as the years passed! She was homeschooled except for a couple of days out to a exceptional school for the disabled! At any rate, I was so happy and immediately wrote her back. That started years of correspondence as her father moved from job to job and we exchanged letters from each new move.
    What a friendship developed from all those personal letters. We told each other our secrets and dreams about life! She learned to write perfectly formed cursive letters…and through the years I tryed to emulate her perfect script. More importantly her devoted friendship as I lagged behind, going to school and starting my first babysitting jobs. She learned early on, “Don’t let what you can’t do, interfere with what you can do”.
    I was shocked, a few years ago, when I read about the demise of teaching cursive writing in the school systems. I thought how will we ever communicate. The hand printed word is hard for a lot of children and also hard to read. Cursive, well learned flows as the thoughts flow…
    I think cursive is being taught again nowadays due to complaints from the older folks like great aunts, uncles and grannys…LOL
    As many letters as I received from my friend…I never got a leaf in the letter…What a joy that would have added!
    Thanks Tipper, for reminding me of all those wonderful penned letters. A text message, be it phone or email will never compare to a cursive written letter from a friend!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Much as I love email and the Internet, I love to write and receive letters and cards in the mail. How refreshing that some young people do as well. I loved this post.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I’d like to thank Chatter for letting you share such a lovely thing with us, since I would never have allowed my mother to do anything of the kind.
    I am so encouraged that some sensitive and caring young people still send REAL mail! I greatly enjoyed writing, sending and receiving letters long ago. I also fear it is fast becoming a lost art and pleasure. Love the leaf!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:59 am

    An awesome gift…the treasured leaf…but, also the treasured hand written letters…I love hearing this sort of story, I hope Chatter will frame this special little leaf and keep it forever!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 26, 2014 at 9:56 am

    That leaf, along with millions of others, make it possible for us to breathe oxygen. Try accomplishing that with even trillions of dollars!!

  • Reply
    Mary Lou McKillip
    March 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Tipper. My heart leaped when I read this. These two young ladies haven’t so much depth in knowledge. Socrates was not correct all together I think in his statement. (Quote) Youth is wasted on the young. It is so refreshing to see and hear of youth reaching out to others.I have Indian blood and it cries out to see the depth of God’s earth. (beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) Tipper your own reality surrounding you amaze me.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:48 am

    this was so sweet. i so loved this!!!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

    “Among my Treasures” are not only letters, preserved now for many years, but mementos, too, like a pressed flower or a four-leaf clover. Just seeing these mementos and reading again the messages of the notes and letters carries me back in time to a place and era when dreams were born and the whole world and its promise was my umbrella. We grow through friendship’s nourishment, and when we, in distant years, have reminders of a time, an event, a place and a person that elicit pleasant memories when we were young and full of hope, it is like being young again, with most all of life stretching out ahead with promise. What beauty and promise in a single leaf, a reminder of the beauty and perfection of nature but especially of the power of friendship.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 9:14 am

    That was such a beautiful gesture; some small things that someone took the time to process for Chatter. It showed care and friendship. I probably would have felt that way. Chatter can find a small frame and place it in there for good keeping, especially if a down day comes along. It will make a rough day a good day!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

    That is a wonderful gift. People learn to value the time spent on choosing the gift and the meaning of the gift much more than the gift itself.

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    March 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

    She should send her a 4 leaf clover back!!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Getting hand written letters from someone in this day and age of computers and cell phones is a rare treat. Especially if they contain such a nice gift. You can’t send a beautiful little leaf in a text message. I understand how Chatter feels. This reminds me of my husband before we got married 41 years ago. He and I lived in different towns and only saw each other on the weekends when he didn’t have to work. He wrote letters to me and in every letter he would send me a little surprise. Sometimes it would be a pressed fragrant little rose from a bush he had in his yard or just a little bunch of Sweet Williams or honeysuckle that he found growing wild in the woods. I looked forward to getting these letters and I kept everyone that he ever wrote to me. I have them in a little wooden treasure chest that he gave me and I count them among one of my most prized possessions! They are definitely worth more than a million dollars to me!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 26, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I’m absolutely delighted to learn that pen pals, those of the traditional type who write real letters as opposed to the transitory messages such as this one I am typing right now, still exist.
    As someone whose life has in no small part been devoted to study of the past, I worry (maybe excessively so) about the loss of the material upon history is largely predicated; namely, the written word. We know Theodore Roosevelt through his letters (he wrote dozens every day), his books, his notes and his scribblings. The same is true for most any major figure you care to mention for the last 500 years, and if they didn’t leave written records we know far less about them.
    I had two or three pen pals in school days, but then the fashion was to correspond with pen pals overseas.
    As for that little maple leaf, or at least that is what it appears to be to me, it sets all sorts of thoughts a-running. Does it come from a tree tapped each spring for sap to make syrup? Will it someday be cut and prove to be beautifully burled? Does it stand as a red or golden sentinel of autumn on some remote hillside,or does it adorn a churchyard (the two churches which figured in my youth both had maples in front of them)?
    In short the are lessons, legends, and a world of lore in a lone leaf.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 26, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Yep, a million dollar gift, but money is just money and that leaf is the whole world. It is real and it is what all the money in the world cannot buy. From friend to friend a real piece of life!

  • Leave a Reply