Appalachia Pap

Sitting in History

Hot chocolate and Pap's black pipe

Over the weekend we took a journey up the creek for some much needed fresh air.

It was a beautiful day even though it was spitting snow and on the cold side. We had such an enjoyable time stogging along together with a skiff of snow filling the wood crevices and hanging on the trees.

With Chitter, looking for rocks on a trip up the creek is a must and now that she’s cutting her own stones for her jewelry the search is even more of a priority.

After poking around in the cold waters of Stamey Creek we needed a fire.

We sat around the warmth eating snacks and drinking hot chocolate The Deer Hunter made over the flames.

Chitter toted her fiddle along so we had music to go with the camaraderie.

Our warming fire was a stone’s throw away from my great grandfather’s old homeplace and just below one of the springs Pap used for our gravity water system when I was a girl.

In between tunes, Chitter stopped to warm her hands over the fire. As she spread her fingers wide across the dancing flames she said “I wonder if there was ever a fiddle played when our family was living here.” I said “Maybe or maybe you’re the first fiddler this place has ever heard.”

As I sat listening to the sweet sound of fiddle music with the fire warming my face and the taste of hot chocolate on my lips I thought this is about as good as life gets. I reached to set my cup on the ground and noticed I was sitting directly on a piece of Pap’s old black pipe that he laid so many years ago to provide water for our family.

I smiled as I told the rest of the bunch I thought Pap would be right pleased we were together enjoying the fire and filling the land of his people with fiddle music.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 14, 2022 at 2:03 pm

    Yes, it’s a blessing to live close to your roots! I enjoyed your January 2021 blog about tracking over where your ancestors lived & worked. The cabin my great great grandparents built in SW Ohio had stood in what became the front yard when I was growing up. My nephew is raising his son there where his great great grandfather built a frame house when he came home from theCivil War.

    Genealogy is my hobby and learning our roots go back to Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall England, the German/French border, Poland & on back before the 1400’s when few records were kept is so interesting!

    Thanks for another year, Tipper! I can hardly wait until tonight to hear another chapter of Mountain Path ⚖️⌛️

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    January 20, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    That is a beautiful story. I’m sitting in a classroom waiting on my students to get here, but while I read, I was right there in Stamey Creek, feeling the warmth of the fire and hot chocolate and listening to some heavenly fiddle music!
    Thank you for my adventure!


  • Reply
    Patricia Small
    January 20, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Wonderful, heartwarming story…thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ronald Stokes
    January 20, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    I grew up in east Tennessee and spent big part of my youth in the Cherokee National Forest. I live in Atlanta and miss my boyhood environment . Loved your description of the family outing in the woods. Sure missed those winter walks in the mountains.

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      January 20, 2021 at 5:01 pm

      Mr. Stokes, I can relate to your story. I don’t want to try to turn Tipper’s blog into an email thread so I am a little hesitant . (If you don’t want to post, Tipper, I totally understand.)

      Anyway, I grew up with the Daniel Boone National Forest just across the garden. But I live about fifty miles from Atlanta now and I cannot totally recover from not having woods to ramble in next door. You and I (and no doubt a host of others) are living that “You can take the boy out of the country, but …”

      That’s nice country up there around Greeneville.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Anderson
    January 20, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Beautiful Story…I enjoyed it so much and I enjoy all your videos that you are putting on Utube.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Such a heartwarming story!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 20, 2021 at 11:24 am

    I look through Chitter’s jewelry from time to time for gifts for my daughter and daughter in law. Back in December a stone on a necklace caught my eye. I didn’t really like the rest of necklace but I wanted that stone. I contacted Chitter and asked her if she could take the stone out and mount it as an upside teardrop (the big end up). She knew exactly what I wanted and had it shipped in a few days.
    Of course the Postal Service sent it on a tour of the Southeastern United States and it took 13 days to get here. We live about 153 miles apart as the crow flies. That’s a little under 12 miles a day. If I was 50 years younger I could have walked down there and back in 13 days. But I was in no hurry so I tracked the package a couple of times every day and chuckled at the ineptitude of our postal service.
    When I buy from from Chitter, I send cash so that she gets to keep all of it. Etsy and PayPal keep part of it if you go through them. And you can give her a tip. She does quality work and can use the extra since she is still learning her trade. I know it’s not wise to send cast through the mail but she’s worth the risk.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    January 20, 2021 at 10:54 am

    My family was big on outdoor fires in back of the house. We’d take a couple of lawn chairs for us old folks. The grandkids usually sat on a block of wood or stretched out next to the fire on a blanket. The youngest grandson busied himself finding twigs to throw on the fire. Conversation was light, and eventually ended as we just sat staring into the fire, wrapped in our own thoughts until bedtime. Those are pleasant memories. I have a few pictures of those evening fireside scenes.

    Thanks so much for your story, Tipper.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 10:19 am

    This was the norm back in the day, and I remember so many simple outings. Of course I remember “dinners on the ground” at a family cemetery. An old schoolhouse was nearby. My Paternal grandparent’s tombstones had little oval pictures on them. The old farmhouse not far away. All was sold and leveled by a coal mine except the cemetery. The simple “dinner on the ground” was moved a few miles away and renamed, but is still the celebration that was probably started in the 1800s. Seems like it may be called “the Homecoming” now. Those were beautiful memorable days, and I Have not attended since I was a teenager. I suppose it was a wise move to move indoors, but they lost something important in that transition. So wonderful to watch you plant those roots so deep that nothing can erase. I love to follow along with your girl’s, and it is like a story within a story. I still cannot tell them apart, but can identify them by their instruments, hobbies, and nicknames. I am so amazed at how they have retained so much of what is good about their area.
    Definition of the Appalachian culture describes it sometimes as Collectivist, and further mentions that it is concerned more with the community than with individualism. Now, I am getting into the weeds, as I often do, but I do not think they totally understand us when they attempt to define what Appalachians really are. Most learn the ability to be ruggedly individualistic, and yet really always keep the needs of our neighbors and community in mind. Hard to define, because we don’t just flow along with what the social media or television tells us we are 🙂

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    January 20, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Psalm 46:10

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 9:27 am

    I hope I never take the simple things in life for granted. A hike with family, a hot cup of chocolate, music and an outdoor fire can’t be beat.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 20, 2021 at 9:05 am

    It is a good thing to be, as the bible says in a different connection “rooted, grounded and settled”. I’m glad you all have such deep roots in that land, that community and that heritage. You referred once (at least) to “Wilson Holler”which to my mind says ‘the historic seat of the Wilson family’ to include extended family inasmuch as they also lived there. There is no Stephens Holler where I grew up I don’t reckon though the name is very common in that country. My wife’s family, the Corders, have at least three localities with their name; a Corder Holler in western Virginia, a Corder Branch in southern Ky and another Corder Branch in east Tn. It wasn’t because they were famous. It was because when detailed map making and naming was going on that was the local identity of those places. Anyway, there is comfort in having connection with place. In your all’s case, you can tell your girls stories about their family that becomes more real because if being attached to a place that can be visited.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 8:57 am

    May you and your family continue to be richly blessed.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 20, 2021 at 8:12 am

    I needed this. Thank you, Tipper.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Such a sweet, heartwarming story! I think your Pap was smiling down on all of you. Thank you for sharing this precious memory with us. God bless you all!

  • Reply
    January 20, 2021 at 7:45 am

    Lovely video, more families need such outings, instead of TV or tech devices for entertainment. Especially liked hearing the music.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    January 20, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Beautiful story!

    • Reply
      Janet Smart
      January 20, 2021 at 8:10 am

      Lovely post. I’d love to go back and do the same thing where I grew up.

  • Reply
    Linda Viar
    January 20, 2021 at 7:29 am

    Tipper we all need to get back to ‘less modern devices’ more face to face, letter to letter and being in the present for others. Love your site. Thank you

  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    January 20, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Sounds like a great day. Sometimes we get glimpses of heaven!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 20, 2021 at 6:50 am

    Sounds like a wonderful outing. It does a body good to be out where there are no sounds of cars or motorcycles – just the soft and comforting sounds of a branch nearby with maybe a fiddle playing harmony. Having a fire to sit around just tops it off.

    • Reply
      shrryl paul
      January 20, 2021 at 9:06 am

      It is so wondergul to have these physical ties to uour ancrstrs. I have some of their posessions but sadly the avtual land they lived on from the mid 1800’s to the estly 1900’s is gone, built over. Including at lradt one cemetary.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 20, 2021 at 5:50 am

    I love your title Tip, Sitting in History, we are such a mobile society now that not many people get to experience that!
    I’ve never been back to where I was born and I lived so many places growing up that it’s hard for me to think of anywhere as home, other than where I live now!
    I love what a beautiful family and home you The Blind Pig Family have!

  • Leave a Reply