Appalachian Fine Dining–Wild Greens

a mess of ramps

It’s that time of year. That time when the old folks would be shunning preserved foods for something fresh. Something green. Poke sallat is tender and green. Fiddleheads look like belated Christmas ornaments. Ramp dinners are raising money all up and down the Appalachians. My great-grandmother would be thrilled with the addition of all this chlorophyll and vitamin C to her family’s diet. […]

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Inside the Rhododendron Hedge

I took Thistle for her morning walk yesterday along the same side road we take most mornings. As we headed up a steep bit, she stopped to nose through the leaves on the side of the road (whew–puff, puff–suits me!). As she poked around, I noticed an opening in the mass of rhododendrons growing there. It looked almost like a passageway. I started to tug on Thistle to get her moving again, but then I hesitated, and followed her through the gap in the leaves instead. It was like entering a leafy, green cave. There was a sort of room there, banked in by branches and I thought how I would have LOVED this when I was a kid. The ground rose steeply to the back with a more or less level area in the opening. It was perfect for playing house, for hiding from brothers or parents, for reading or writing or drawing, for baking mud pies, for holding secret treasures, and for dreaming. We had places like that leafy bower when I was a kid. The giant chestnut stump that had rotted out leaving a perfect, circular fort. The little clearing where we transplanted moss to make a”carpet.” The tunnels we built in hay bales in the barn. Little havens of escape. So why don’t I have places like that anymore? I used to pack a bag with an apple, a book, a pen, and a notebook and […]

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Introducing . . . Appalachian Wednesdays

Bloodroot in bloom

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 […]

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