My books are set in Appalachia–primarily West Virginia (the only state entirely in Appalachia). I chose that setting because it’s where I grew up and because I have a passion for these mountains–these soft, well-worn, Eastern mountains.
So I’ve decided to devote one blog post each week to something Appalachian–food, fauna, folklore–the good stuff. Maybe I’ll include stories from my childhood or stories from the history of the region. Perhaps some recipes (my mother’s fried squirrel recipe has already put in an appearance). If you have suggestions–let me know.
Today, I thought I’d write about bloodroot. I found some blooming on our weekend hike and have always been intrigued by this lovely, yet potentially lethal plant. The name comes from the red sap in the root, which can be used as a dye. In small doses it can stimulate breathing, treat heart problems, relieve migraines, and inhibit plaque on the teeth. In larger doses, it’s likely to kill you. Well now.
Isn’t that the way? Something lovely and helpful, when taken to extremes, turns lethal. There’s a life lesson there.
Bloodroot is also the name of a collection of writings by Appalachian women. I discovered it while researching the plant and it’s definitely going on my to-read list. Essays, short stories, poetry, and letters by the likes of Lee Smith, Bennie Lee Sinclair, Sheila Kay Adams, Sharyn McCrumb, Jayne Anne Phillips, and others. If you don’t know these fabulous Appalachian authors–seek them out.