Appalachia

Wind in the Dark Hills

persimmons on tree

“There was loneliness in the dark hills when the wind stirred the withered leaves on the trees. It was music to me. It was poetry. It hangs to me better than a piece of clothing for it fits me well and will not wear out. Black-Boy’s bark grew to be beautiful to my ear. It was the assurance of something in the darkness of a night. A dog’s voice that you know out in a lonely place does you good to hear. Persimmon tree leaves and the yellow leaves on a poplar tree are beautiful at night when a dull moon is shining barely over the hilltop. A gray opossum in a persimmon tree is something you like to shake to the ground with a shower of small reddish leaves falling like a little shower of rain. And then when the rain fell it was the time to hunt. The forest is so silent. Opossums love quiet woods. They are afraid of wind in the brush or the rattle of dead leaves. And when the rain thug-thugs—slowly at night—the skunks come out to root their noses into the dirt in the old fields. But skunk scent at night will knock one down if it is raining, it is so strong.”

—Jesse Stuart “Beyond Dark Hills”


The lines from Stuart fit the last few days in Brasstown perfectly. The sky has been overcast with intermittent rain and the leaves falling from the trees are stunning in their variations of red, yellow, brown, and green.

I’ve never been a hunter at night, but I agree with his view of the wind through the trees and across the dark hills being pure poetic music. I know my Papaw Wade would have agreed the dog’s voice was good to hear.


Last night’s video: Mountain Path 11.

Tipper

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    Alexis
    November 2, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Alexis

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 30, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    The Greeks coined the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I grew up with the four seasons, the rebirth and greening of all that grew in spring; the heat, humidity, and sweat of summer; the changing of the green to many colors, a portent of the death that was to come of the fall; the gloominess of the bare sticks of the trees without their foliage during the winter.

    I find beauty in the sameness yet the ever-changing movement of the oceans. I look from my rear patio out over the Pacific Ocean and see a warship on the horizon. I reach for my binoculars and watch them as they move hull down over the horizon. I ask, “For where are they bound and why can I no longer go?”

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    October 30, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Growing up I truly enjoyed walking to the bus stop sometimes with a foot or more of snow, and the trees that hung over the roadway laden with snow making an archway. It was perhaps the most mystical and beautiful scene I will ever see in my lifetime. With typical youth that is where my love of Winter stopped, as I felt the pangs of cabin fever long before the snowy days were gone. I longed for the days of Spring and the first robin along with all the sounds of Spring croakers. Coats were a nuisance, and the snow soon turned dirty and muddy. A few years living in a perfect coastal climate changed my perception of seasons forever. I loved the people and the food there, but I was so homesick for the seasons. I somehow fondly remembered chairs around a pot bellied stove at the country store along with small talk about nothing in particular. When I returned to the mountains each small change in each season was cherished. Even the sounds of dogs barking off in the distance was a part of what I knew as home.
    Autumn seems to bring a loneliness even with the brilliance of the colors of the leaves that can be seen for miles in the mountains. Autumn always seems to be lonely with the dying off of flowers and green leaves, but I do look forward to the break from Summer’s heat.
    Those lines from Jesse Stuart are so descriptive of a world the hunter sometimes sees. Many men in my area as hunters saw the woods as Jesse did. I know men who know the woods like the back of their hand. They look forward to hunting season and enjoy nature in a way I never will. Hunters have to be patient and observant, and I sure enjoyed Jesse’s observations.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    October 30, 2021 at 11:18 am

    When I was a child, hunting with my dad was some what a treat. I know about those hills . I have said before, we hunted and raise all our food. I was the one to go hunting with my dad, I had 3 brothers but my oldest didn’t like it and my 2 younger brothers were to young at the time. Dad liked to go when it had rained just a little because the animals couldn’t hear you walking on the leaves. It was quiet. Me carrying our lantern and daddy walking in front of me, letting branches smack me in the face, I didn’t like that part. Then , dad wood let the dogs go. We would sit down and wait till we heard the dogs tree. Dad would roll him a cigarette up and smoke it. Then all of a sudden, here we’d go. Jump up and listen for their bark to lead us right to em. We get there, daddy would call them off the tree and he would shine his light up there and see a coon or opossum. Sometimes, he would let me shoot it out. He would praise his dogs and Pat em on the head. We would start home. I know I was a girl but more than that. I loved going hunting with my dad, it was always a special time, just us and the dogs.

  • Reply
    Greg Church
    October 30, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Tipper
    I enjoy the variety of subjects that you cover in your blog. Your ability to choose stories and humor from mountain voices ,both your own and others , keeps me eager to start each morning with coffee and The Blind Pig. Your readers find acorns to ruminate over the day through. Thanks.
    Greg Church

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    October 30, 2021 at 10:12 am

    Thank you, Tipper. I so enjoy reading your posts and the comments. I have learned so much from you. I still say I wasn’t born & raised in Appalachia – but my heart is definitely there. God bless you!

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    October 30, 2021 at 9:37 am

    Such a descriptive passage…beautiful. my Mom made the best persimmon puddings at Thanksgiving and Christmas! Such wonderful memories!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    October 30, 2021 at 8:56 am

    I enjoyed the excerpt as it was so descriptive, I was almost there myself. The wind came 2 nights ago and lasted 24 hours violently thrashing about and knocking branches, nuts and leaves everywhere! I had my work cut out for me yesterday if I wanted to walk without breaking my neck on nuts, etc. It was a long and tiring affair. I was thinking yesterday looking at the dogwood berries and her burgundy leaves, the yellow poplar which is always “ poplar” with me, the oranges of the maples, gold of the nut trees finer than low carat gold, and the burnt orange of the mighty white oaks all around me. I think there are Kong’s on thrones and rulers on power trips whose views CANNOT compare to what God has given me to see and enjoy!!!!

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    October 30, 2021 at 8:48 am

    That sounds like here in middle Tennessee too. It’s cloudy and rainy with the wind howling like crazy yesterday. We are on a farm surrounded by wood and mountains and the wind is blowing most of the time. It sounds very mournful.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 30, 2021 at 8:40 am

    It’s plain Jesse was a country boy. He was a well-traveled man in his lifetime but he always loved his hills in Greenup County best. Were he still here, I think he would be one if your fans. Come to think of it, I think Harriett Arnow would have been also. That lonesome wind in the dark hills sure tugs at me with a mix of emotions. It is somehow either sadly-sweet or sweetly-sad.

    The woods at night are surely a different place. The best way to know them is to go without a light because the “room” made by a light cuts one off from the whole scene. ‘Course it’s best to sit still unless there is some mighty clear going. I wouldn’t mind having a good trail to walk at night, especially nights with clear air and a full moon.

    • Reply
      Patricia J. DeWeese
      October 30, 2021 at 5:34 pm

      Beautifully written. I agree with your observations and sentiments.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    October 30, 2021 at 8:36 am

    Jesse Stuart’s was a masterful voice for his native Kentucky and Appalachia in general. I was fortunate enough, as an undergraduate at King College in Bristol, TN, to hear him speak. Probably through the efforts of an English professor who was also Dean of Women and a great fan of literature featuring Appalachia or the timeless rhythms of nature, he addressed the student body in chapel one morning. I honestly don’t recall the specific subject matter of his presentation, but I do remember thinking to myself–“This is a man of the soil who understands his roots.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    October 30, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Jesse Stuart was a gifted writer and story teller. I enjoy reading his books.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    October 30, 2021 at 8:00 am

    When I moved from Iowa back to San Diego, I missed the rainy Fall days. Southern California does not have much weather or season changes. I had asked my Dad after I got back “home”, why it cost so much to live in San Diego. I mean – a house is made out of the same material wherever you live. Dirt is dirt wherever, for that matter. Each place in the world has beautiful scenery. So why does it cost so much in San Diego? Air is air, I said. He said because you are paying for days and days of sunshine. My mom had told me about living in four seasons all my life. I could only imagine her stories of growing up on the East Coast as if looking at pictures. I didn’t know what it really felt like. I always wanted to feel four seasons, though. So after having lived in Iowa, then moving back to where I grew up, I really missed weather. As much as I loved being back with my family, and being able to go to my familiar places in San Diego county, I missed the season changes. Every Halloween I missed how it was now jacket weather in Iowa, the leaves all off the trees. And most October 31sts it rained while I was in Iowa. Now I love being in North Carolina – there is weather. I love the coziness of grey days, wet fall leaves on the ground, and having to turn the lights on inside even in the middle of the day because it is raining, and I enjoy the cooler days. Sweater weather. This feels like home to my heart.

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Jimk
    October 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Another thing that’s passed from our culture.
    Possum and coon hunting or even just letting a pack of beagles Chase a rabbit at night. The men were always quick to identify their dogs bark with pride. October nights always had a bit of mystery about them with the rustle of leaves and the hunters moon.

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise ( Bill )
    October 30, 2021 at 7:24 am

    A gentle rain on a cold and cloudy day can be depressing to some but for me it is a soothing and calming feeling I get especially in the fall and winter months.

  • Reply
    Rita Speers
    October 30, 2021 at 7:16 am

    Beautiful singing and pickin’!
    You have a way of sharing the best of the best of everything with your subscribers!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 30, 2021 at 5:56 am

    These last few days have had an eeriness about them. It feels somehow lonesome, guess that’s because it has been overcast and the tree leaves have mostly fallen. The bare trees seem to put out a quiet lonely sound.
    I seem to always experience a sadness in the fall of the year.

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