The Blue Ridge Mountains

Summer is the best time to see the ‘blue’ of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains stretch from North Georgia all the way to Pennsylvania where they eventually peter out (become smaller and smaller until they simply disappear).

The Blue Ridge Mountains were named by early American settlers who journeyed west from the Coast of North Carolina. The mountains have a blue haze that seems to hover over them-making them appear a hazy blue color. The phenomena is said to result from a chemical being naturally released by the trees. One of my favorite books, tells the story of one of those early pioneers.

Even though I’ve lived smack dab in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains my entire life-each summer when the trees have leafed out to their full glory- I’m still awed by their beauty and shocked by their overwhelming presence.

Years ago I came across an interesting debate in a book and I’ve never been able to get it out of my mind. The gist of it being-folks who live in the mountains feel protected by the high ridges and mountain tops-but people who are’nt native to the mountains sometimes feel smothered and confined by them. On the other hand-folks who are native to the plains of our great country are comforted by the wide open spaces where there is plenty of room to see what’s coming-while mountaineers who visit the plains often feel naked or unprotected by the landscape.

I guess it’s a Prairie vs. Mountains mentality. Since I’ve never been to the plains I can’t say for sure how I’d feel-but it does seem I would feel like looking around for a place to hide. Hide from what-I haven’t a clue. Here where I live-it consoles me to know I can run behind the next ridge over into the next holler and be gone from sight. Sounds like I need to be debating what I feel the need to hide from-instead of the mountain vs. prairie mentality.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the Prairie vs. Mountains debate-hope you’ll leave me a comment.


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  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    June 24, 2009 at 6:47 am

    There’s nothing like being on the top of the Blue Ridge and looking down into the valley too. Kids used to tease me when they heard my family was from Harrisonburg, VA. They called me a ‘ridge runner’ and said I had one leg shorter than the other. It wasn’t true, but I found it funny and just let them have their say. There’s nothing like being on the mountain. Up there you feel so much closer to God and you can get a glimpse of just how vast this world is. xxoo

  • Reply
    June 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    What a beautiful place you live!
    We live in Kansas, which is considered “flat”, but our area is green and hilly. I think it’s beautiful! I love seeing so much of the sky. I feel really odd when I visit NYC and can’t even see a glimpse of blue above the forest of buildings.
    I heard of a person who visited Kansas from NYC and they had a panic attack when confronted by all of the open space around them. It was overwhelming and endless, I guess.

  • Reply
    June 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Tipper, I read your post, and every comment, and now I’m not sure what I was going to say. Lets see, I lived until I was 35 in rural northern Michigan, it is hilly with a lot of trees there. When I began traveling for work, I was amazed and immediately taken in by the mountains. Some of the mountains, like those in New York, Vermont, West Virginia, east Tennessee, and Western North Carolina have trees and seem like “home” on steroids to me. I think bigger is better where hills and mountains are concerned. The majesty overwhelms me.
    I have driven though some small flatlands, in southern Indiana and Illinois, and I didn’t feel naked, but like something was missing, I guess. Probably the trees.
    We’ll be back out your way next week, and I’m looking forward to seeing the mountains again. Nothing in the suburbs beats being in rural areas for me. Cities are fun, fast and bright, but they overstimulate me in some strange way. Nature and outdoors are better.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    June 19, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Here are some words from a song you might know:
    Blue, Blue, Blue Ridge,
    Do you call to all your children like you call to me?
    Blue, Blue, Blue Ridge;
    I know you’re calling me home.
    Now, there came I time when I travelled too far; too many places … too many bars.
    Yet for all of my travels and all that I earned,
    It was no consolation for all that I yearned.
    The dew on the laurel, the tall swaying pines, the clear mountain waters, the bluest of skies
    It all takes me back and calls me to those
    Blue, Blue, Blue Ridge
    I know you’re still calling me …
    I ordered a CD last week to replace one I have worn out from years of play. Seldom Scene’s 15th Anniversary Celebration from Kennedy Center. The songs had been on my my mind a lot recently with some trying times in my life.
    I thought of your lives and wished I could escape to the mountains.
    Did you ever see a June Bug, a child’s piece of thread tied to one of its legs, the thread held in the child’s fingertips then slipped from the clutching, escaped from the fingertips but the thread caught on a tree limb, the June Bug buzzing to pull free but helpless to break the constant tether? Even willing to sacrifice the torn-off leg to finally fly away into the freedom regained, freedom never before so fully appreciated as now.
    I was thinking about the Blue Ridge Mountains days before you wrote your essay. I thought about writing some about them for you. Strange that you would write the same thoughts at the same time, just a few days after my wool gathering.
    God bless all of you.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I hear tell the early pioneers referred to the approach from the east as the “blue wall” – nearly impenetrable in the early days.
    I’ve often described the mountains as an old comfy shawl that wraps me in beauty when I’m here. I’m not from here, but now consider myself so. I blathered on about my reaction to Appalachia in http://wvfurandroot.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/memorial-day-mountain-mama/

  • Reply
    Greta Koehl
    June 18, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Interesting question and one of my favorites. I was raised mostly in wide-open areas – more desert and brushy farmland – in Southern California and Texas. And I am definitely a mountain person; the open spaces make me feel too exposed, just as you and others have noted. Mostly I’m happy anywhere where there is a lot of tree cover, so Northern Virginia isn’t too bad (although it’s awfully swamp-like at times).

  • Reply
    June 18, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    I don’t live in the mountains, but the rolling hills and I love them. I’ve never lived anywhere else and don’t want to. I couldn’t stand to live in the flatlands.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 18, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Tipper, the pictures and your thoughts about the Blur Ridge Mountains warm my heart. I love these mountains too.
    My family roots are here in Western North Carolina but I grew up in flat lands like Texas. We returned to the mountains when I was in high school. My folks were glad to be home to the mountains and I grew to love them too.
    I feel cradled and protected by the mountains!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I grew up in PA right where the mountains start to peter out. Still, I do feel somewhat comforted by them. But my wife, who grew up in the heart of WV mountain country absolutely feels comforted by the mountains. She always felt naked in Nashville. It’s not plains there but there are no mountains at all. I also worked with a guy from the plains and he said he felt terribly claustrophobic when he got too near mountains and even trees…

  • Reply
    Shirley Smith
    June 18, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I am born and bred here in NE Arkansas. My mothers people who were from the edge of the Ozark Mtns called us flat-landers. We visited in those foothills often and my mother always wanted to go back. Instead we laid her to rest many years ago on Crowley’s Ridge. I do love the Ozark Mountains, and go amongst them as often as I can.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    June 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Blue Ridge Mountains, West Virginia…
    Take me home country roads…
    I’ve visited areas where it’s more open, and I agree, Tipper, there is that feeling of being naked so to speak. Have lived in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York for years where its blanket of trees is so comforting and aromatic! Many of my poems are odes to trees. They are so majestic!
    I often yearn to be back. I’ve always dreamed of a log cabin home!
    Lovely post, Tipper!
    p.s. Since I missed your last post, I quickly read and played the video. And lo and behold — who’s playing the guitar! You rock, girl! :))

  • Reply
    June 18, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Hi Tipper, thanks again for the give away. I just recently made my first batch of pickles using the mix you sent. Yummy.
    One of my goals in life is the hike the Appalachian trail with Byron. Maybe in segments since it is so long and takes months to finish in one trip. Then I’ll get to appreciate your beloved mountains close up!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

    There are things I love about them both. I grew up in the craggy hills and hollers of southern Ohio, just on the other side of the Ohio River from Kentucky and West Virginia. Now I live at the edge of the prairie in west central Ohio. I’ve lived in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania, the flat bayou land of Louisiana and the flat sand of central Florida.
    There is something comforting about being snuggled by the valleys or hollers, but also something suffocating about it, too. I like being on the top of the mountain so I can see what’s out there.
    I didn’t care for La. Even though it was flat, there is so much vegetation that you can’t see out of it. Pennsylvania was the closest to my home, but more spread out with wider valleys. We really liked it there. We also love the Adirondacks and the Rocky Mountains for their breathtaking views and beauty.
    Where we live now is kind of boring, terrain-wise, but we do have the most spectacular sunsets and sunrises. It would be hard to give that up.
    Ending this long comment, I have to say that the Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful and one of our favorite places to visit. We love driving the parkway and staying at the lodges there. We’ve climbed the Peaks of Otter twice and it was quite a haul, but so worth it. Once we found hundreds of wild bleeding hearts and spiderworts in bloom. It was so gorgeous!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2009 at 6:48 am

    I was raised in the Appalachian foothills and I love the mountains for several reasons. Mostly their beauty. I’ve never been to the plains, but here in SC, I cannot get used to the roads going on forever. In the valleys you are usually traveling along with a river or creek on one side of you and the mountain on the other. In this flat land, I’m always looking for the river. Here you can turn in either direction and just keep on going. I’ve been here 15 years and still cannot get used to it.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I grew up in the flat lands of Georgia, but as soon as I found the mountains of N Georgia, I knew that I belonged there.
    However, when finally I could move here, it was south western NC where I settled and I am in Heaven when I drive down the highway and look to the right or left and see ridge after ridge of blue mountains. As my sister said today, “The mountains give a sense of peacefullness when you look at them.”
    When driving home from Atlanta, my first sight of a mountain ridge elicits a huge sigh and a warm feeling of coming home.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    We loved the Blue Ridge Mountains/Parkway. We hope to do it again someday. Our good friends left sunday for a week in the mountains. I can’t wait to see their pictures. Patti

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Tipper, such a thought provoking question.
    I live in N E Oklahoma, in a great valley. I can see sizable hills from any direction I look. I like the close warm feeling I experienced. I lived in Arkansas for a while, on the side of a mountain and loved it. But I was raised here in Okla, and also love the open feeling. So every once in a while I take a trip to the Ozarks, and get my fill of the “BIG” hills. I think I hear the mts. calling me.

  • Reply
    Rick Morton
    June 17, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    I have alway said Blue Ridge Mountains and Heaven are almost the same word. I lived in Okahoma when I was in the Army and could not wait to come home. And Louis La’Mour and the story of the Sacketts was some of the best book ever. To the Far Blue Mountains was the very frist one I read. I don’t want to sound like Okahoma was a bad place I really like it but I’m a mountain man.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I was 19 before I saw flat land. I got married and moved away from the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. But we moved to the prairie, and even though sometimes, I felt as if the sky were falling, I fell in love the grasslands of Oklahoma,too. Now, I live in Florida and have fallen in love with the ocean. Isn’t God wonderful to give us all these blessings?

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve always lived in Seattle. A wonderful combination of trees, mountains and water. At times living in a different part of the country but it would definitely have to be near the water. Nothing beats coming home, going northbound and seeing the ferries coming in to port, the blueness of Puget Sound and the sun shining on the land across the way.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I have to agree that I am a mountain person myself. Although the mountains I am used to are from Vermont and the surrounding the the Blur Ridge Mountains are definately a beautiful place to be, any mountain is if you ask me.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    In NW Washington I love the cover and closeness of the trees. I love looking down the street and not being able to see what is there. I guess I have a need to hide too? I have a friend from a “plains” type region who just like you said, feels claustrophobic in the closeness that the trees here provide. She says when she travels east it’s always a relief to get halfway through the state to where the trees end and be able to “breathe again”. When we travel we are always glad to hit that point in the state when we come back the other way and breathe a sigh of relief saying, “oh good we’re back in the trees.”

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I live in the midwest and there is something to be said about seeing what’s coming but love the Blue Ridge. The odd thing is we’ve been to Rockies and the Eastern mountains. The Rockies are the ones that seem almost smothering and very overwhelming while the Blue Ridge have such a “come on in” feel to me.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    To me the plains are boring and I feel naked. The mountains have always been more interesting to me.( a refuge when you want to be alone and think)

  • Reply
    Helen Baldwin
    June 17, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I loved Little House on the Prairie and grew up in Texas, but after being blessed the past 13+ years in Ashe County, I’m not budging! I agree with Mary – it feels as close to heaven as one can get without actually being there. As I’m not quite ready for the real thing, I’ll take where I am 🙂

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    June 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I love the photo and posting on the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m a native of this region and I dearly love our mountains. I’m so glad you feel the same way about our lovely region.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    It is where you are brought up, I think. If you have lived in both areas you have to internally come to terms with your longings and what makes you feel good. I am not comfortable on water and if I lived the rest of my life on a boat still would not be because my mother but the fear of drowning in me when I was little. I can’t even stand for the shower to hit my face. we all internalize differently for each minute thing our souls, and bodies process. Then when we can’t change it, God can. Shirley

  • Reply
    Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'
    June 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Guess I have the best of both worlds. I now live just below the Rockies at the edge of the plains. I was raised on the plains of Oklahoma and dream of going back.
    What would we do without our memories?

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    There is a comforting snuggling feeling in the mountains. A feeling of discovery. On the other hand it is so neat to drive through the plains and watch the clouds shadows move along the earth. There of course in the mountains the feeling of the clouds kissing the mountains as they pass over. I love in the early spring the look of the fog hugging the mountains.
    Yep, being out in nature is where it is at.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    June 17, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I’ve always lived near mountains too – but love the open feel of the plains. I’m curious to know what you are running from too 🙂

  • Reply
    June 17, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I’m definitely a mountain person. I feel so close to God in the mountains. They steal my breath away.
    I have never been on the prairies but have seen them from a plane and I don’t think I would like living out in the open. Here, we have rolling farmland and woods, so it is not open or close, but you can hide over the next hill. lol
    Love your memories, my friend and always enjoy my visits.

  • Reply
    Sallie C aka Cybergranny
    June 17, 2009 at 10:08 am

    I moved away from “the mountains of home” when I was a girl of 16.
    I always missed them and still do.
    My daddy said he was never satisfied after he left them good mountains.We did bring him back to be buried in Campground Cemetery in Qualla. My sister said she could feel “His Spirit Singing through the mountains.”
    We used to sit out on the front porch when we lived near Enka and look up at a big mountain that our house faced. We would have cornbread and milk and Daddy would tell us stories of his youth. I will always be a Mountain Girl in my heart. I love your music, it brings back beautiful memories

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