Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Home Is Where You Make It

My life in appalachia view from cherokee county north carolina

View from Wilscot Cherokee County NC

Have you ever seen the movie Joe Dirt? It’s a pretty silly movie. Throughout Joe’s travels in the movie he keeps running into an old man. Every time they meet up the old guy says something unintelligible to Joe. The end of the movie arrives before Joe finally understands what the man has been trying to tell him “Home is where you make it.”

My fierce love and loyalty for the mountains of Appalachia originate from the fact that the area is the only home I’ve ever known. I know folks who come from other regions and landscapes feel the same about their homelands.

I recently had to travel for work. I went way down south to New Orleans for a whole week. I enjoyed seeing a different place-a different way of life. I learned new skills that will greatly benefit my employer and me.

As the week long class began to wind down I found the phrase “home is where you make it” running round my head. I thought about the folks I met at the conference who would be traveling back to their homes-some as far away as Canada. I thought about my own home. I had a deep longing to see my blue mountains in the distance to know my family waited for me- tucked safely in a holler of an Appalachian mountain.

Home is where you make it and I’m ever so thankful my home is made in Appalachia.


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

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  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    April 22, 2018 at 7:32 am

    I find myself again in these mountains
    Sittin by a river alone
    I’ve awakened to the Appalachian morning
    In West Virginia, my home

    I’m singin a song of freedom
    I’m dancin to the music in the air
    Let me live, laugh & love in these mountains
    My heart will always be there

  • Reply
    April 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    We just got back from the Gulf Coast, it was nice the weather couldn’t be better, but I’m still more partial to the mountains. Just a few days visit is enough for me…

  • Reply
    April 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Yes, the mountains are my favorite place to be. I was born in a big city, but once I found this area, I truly feel I have found home. New Orleans is an interesting city to visit, but a bit too noisy for me. My hummers are here, but I have not seen one of those houses spoken about, however, there is some type of cup like design I have seen in plant/summer catalogs. I would love to know how the Hummer house works out.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    New Orleans…my husband graduated from New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Our son, Samuel was born there and we moved to Tn. when he was 3.When he saw those mountains he exclaimed, “Look at those tall buildings!” I cried. I grew up in those mountains and they fill my heart and my son had only seen tall buildings! Now I am in Fla. and still trying to get back to those beautiful mountains once again.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I’m with you. There’s nothing that
    compares with “home in Appalachia”.
    Even with the coyotes hollering in
    my mountains, I still feel a relief
    when I get home…Ken

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 25, 2014 at 11:24 am

    My parents moved from North Georgia to Florida when I was 12. We went “home” every summer & Christmas. There was a few years when I didn’t get to go at all. My husband & I began to go every Spring & Fall. What a sense of renewal to see those wonderful season changes.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Does having that special landmark make “home” last? Is it the people you meet and greet that form the “tie that binds”? I think I’ve mentioned before that my parents, even though they’ve lived in Texas approximately 70 years want to be buried at “home”, in Kansas, where they spent their childhood and very early adult years.
    Sometimes I feel more “at home” in Kansas than anywhere else I’ve been – perhaps of the connections my parents have. The places I grew up have all been changed so drastically or wiped out by “progress” that there’s little if anything left to recognize. The people I knew, for the most part, moved away as well. I’ve often felt like someone or something was trying to “erase” me.
    The last time I drove my folks to Kansas,change had finally come there: many of the stores in town are crumbling; Mom’s barn is gone as is the tree she and I swang on – the house and yard have undergone major changes; the school where Mom taught her younger brother has been moved who knows where; the house where Dad grew up burned down; industry and housing are encroaching many of the fields his family farmed; and most of the woods where he hunted and trapped, and even his old swimming hole, were hardly recognizable – time and natural succession do that. After that trip Dad said he wasn’t going back until we buried him – It wasn’t home any more.
    Perhaps knowing that your mountains are permanent, even in the face of clear cutting, mining, and development, helps insure that home will always be there.

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    April 25, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I have lived in six states and two countries. I am finally home in East Tn and the mountains and down to earth people.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

    There is no worse feeling than homesickness. When I left the mountains and moved 700 miles north, I was young and in love. Being young, in love and the excitement of the big city helped with the homesickness for a little while. I now live within the state where I grew up, but it’s still not ‘home’. I still miss the hills of eastern KY, but know I will never live there again. I look forward to my trip back home every Memorial Day and for family reunions. When I leave, it takes about two hours of driving before I can shake the lonesome, homesick feeling.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    April 25, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I must have ancient roots in the hills because I always feel most at “home” in the Smoky Mountains.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 25, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I’ve shared here before my little poem entitled “The Land of Home-Again”. It seems appropriate to post it again, for there is a longing in each of us who really love the place where we were born and reared to return there again, regardless of making wherever we are “home”.
    Far away the birds fly toward the forest’s quiet vales
    And above the fields the mountains rise in blue crests.
    Choestoe Creek runs over shoals, murmurs and hails
    The leaves that drop quietly past the hidden nests
    That rest on limbs outstretched above the stream.
    This scene is real, a paradise, not some wild dream.
    Go with me there, to the land of home-again,
    Where we will quietly and slowly regain
    Perspective for the years that yet remain.
    -Ethelene Dyer Jones

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

    This world is not my home
    I’m just a-passing through
    My treasures are laid up
    Somewhere beyond the blue.
    The angels beckon me
    From heaven’s open door
    And I can’t feel at home
    In this world anymore.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    April 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Tipper–Over the span of my years I’ve traveled a great deal and even lived several years of my life (mostly in two- to six-month segments) in the British Isles. I must say that I’ve been to two places–Austria and the North Island of New Zealand–which had much of the same appeal for me as the N. C. high country.
    That being duly recognized, and never mind that I haven’t actually lived in the Smokies for a full half century, they remain the home of my heart and the restorative of my soul. Capturing the deep, wonderful appeal of the southern Appalachians is something better experienced in person than explained in print, but I think that somehow, in some way, this ancient spine of time lays hold of one’s innermost being and never lets go.
    Incidentally, I’ve spent some time in New Orleans and I guess it has something to recommend it (other than food). If so, however, I’ve yet to discover it. On the other hand, I cherish the Cajuns in rural Louisiana. They have a love of life and a laissez-faire attitude which is commendable.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    April 25, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I totally agree with you Tipper. It is interesting to see other places but my heart is in our beautiful mountains. I am connected to them and I have a deep love for them. There is certainly other beautiful place in this world but Appalachia is in my blood.

  • Reply
    Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen
    April 25, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Home is definitely where you make it. We have moved all over the place during our marriage and no matter where it was, I tried to make it “home” whether it was about attitude or decorating or just plain fitting in. My husband says I have done a good job and that’s whose opinion matters the most to me. We now divide our time between south Florida & western NC and wherever we are, it’s home to us.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Another is “Home is Where the Heart is” I know exactly what you mean, Tipper, about these mountains being home. I love them and hope to live out my life right here. However, I once lived on the West Bank of New Orleans long enough to call it home. It claimed a very large part of my heart, and it will always be a part of me. Now and then I have a longing for New Orleans, as I think one may sometimes have more than one area they call home. Good post!

  • Reply
    Thurmon Allen
    April 25, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Tipper you brought back a lot of memories I grew up in North Alabama in the foothills of hte Applachian mountains. After leaving home I managed to live in many different states across our Great Country and a few other countries as well. I found myself homesick more than once to be back on the banks of the Flint river that ran thru my backyard, and to be with family and friends. I guess that is a true statement but for me my home will always be North Alabama.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Seeing these mountains in the distance is always the best part of any trip.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I left the mountains for 35 years, but never really left. My wife (who grew up in Homestead, FL, which is about as far south as you can get in the US) and I moved to the mountains of western NC a year ago today and we both love it here. It took my wife about two months to go from being apprehensive about moving here to being in love.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    April 25, 2014 at 7:41 am

    I now live part of the year in Florida. Florida is nice, the weather nice, but It doesn’t come close to WNC. I was born in Appalachia, and so I guess no other place will ever completely satisfy me. It’s home, and as the old saying goes, “There is no place like home.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 25, 2014 at 7:37 am

    When I was a small child my family moved to Texas. We stayed there for 8 years. My mother hated every moment of it. She wanted nothing more than to return to the mountains of Western North Carolina. She never chose to make Texas her home.
    We can choose to be at home where ever we are but I think there is a place that our soul prefers and mine is the mountains.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 25, 2014 at 7:35 am

    It is true that one can make a home in a different place.
    The old saying, “Home is where the heart is,” is so true. If the heart is not in that different place, then it cannot be home!
    I always say…”Home is where the art is.” Because, I can’t seem to carry my stuff with me, and even when traveling, I need a little art fix!….Does that make sense?
    Oh of course, it is a given that we always miss our loved ones at the home base, where the true love is stationed!
    Thanks Tipper,
    We are glad you are home! Blog and all!
    PS…I forgot to ask if your readers had ever seen or used (or their hummingbirds used) a hummingbird nesting stand! I purchased one at the flea market in Pickens. I had never seen one. It has a little house shaped board with a roof line board, on the front he has a small piece of red hardware cloth tacked to it with pure cotton inside (the birds pull the cotton thru the wire. It has a narrow board run out from under the house shape. Then he drills an indention on the end, on top of that board (he told me that is what the nest sits on), He puts two small springs on each side, attached (like a spring that is in a ballpoint pen) beside the shallow hole. Don’t ask me for they are far, ’cause I didn’t hear all the explaination and he was busy selling.) On the tip of the board he puts a fake plastic leafed branch about a foot long that is glued into a hole that was drilled into the board. ????
    He painted it, black roof, blue fake little house, etc. He said to mount in under an overhang near or on your house…Not in a tree because another bird (robin) might built on the perch-like house…He said they worked! I have doubts, but thought I would try it. My birds are already paired up and may have nests already on one of the Oak limbs…but maybe the second nesting. Let me know if anyone has used one to attract them closer to the yard…of course I use lots of feeders and tubeular flowers in red. LOL

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    April 25, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Me, too, Tipper! I have lived in central GA and spent two years in Coastal Carolina, but I was always homesick for my own mountains. I tell people one of my legs is psychologically shorter than the other!

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