We had friends over for supper on Sunday and I didn’t serve bread. It took nerve, I know. Whether you serve biscuits, cornbread, or light bread, there should ALWAYS be bread on an Appalachian table. Maybe because it helped simple ingredients go a long way. Maybe because it’s GOOD. Especially if you churn your own butter! Even when my grandmother stopped making her own bread, she would still put a stack of store-bought loaf bread on a plate and sit it on the edge of the table. Unlike that basket of biscuits or homemade rolls, it didn’t go in the middle of the table, but it was there. “Push bread” the men called it because it was handy to push the last bites of food onto their forks. I make biscuits for weekend breakfasts now and again. I like them split and buttered with maple syrup (I use a fork). Or apple butter! And I make my cornbread with creamed corn so it’s extra moist. (I also add a dab of sugar–blasphemy in the South, but common in Appalachia.) I never have been good at making light bread (yeast bread), but maybe that’s because I had too many ladies in my life who were masters at it. If you’d like to attempt biscuits, I highly recommend it. They’re pretty easy to make and they’re SO much better than what comes in those supermarket tubes. BISCUITS 1/2 cup self-rising flour per […]
Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Robinson, baseball great Jackie Robinson’s daughter. I HOPE you already know what a huge impact Jackie Robinson had on the civil rights movement by breaking the color barrier in sports when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But you may not know that he went on to be a key player […]
When my brothers and I were little we had a “play-house” inside a HUGE rotted out stump. The tree had fallen long ago, but the shell of the stump remained and it was big enough for all three of us to get inside. It was cool and mossy and taller than I was. The stump was in the woods below […]
I’m always delighted when I’m asked to do a book event. But it doesn’t get much better than being contacted by the library I loved as a kid to come speak. Which is what happened to me this past week! The Upshur County Public Library contacted me to say they’re focusing on hosting more WV authors and would I be […]
If you’ve followed my blog very long, you’ve probably seen mention of the fact that I grew up on a farm that’s been in my family for seven generations. It’s a big part of why I write about Appalachia and have such strong nostalgia for the past. Today I thought I’d share a new poem reflecting on a piece of that history . . . SEVENTH GENERATION How many greats does it take to reach back into the days when a cousin named Electa rode a broke down old horse four days across the mountains to find her wounded brother? A great plan indeed. The bullet broke the bone and lodged there. He ought not to have lived, but he said no Rebel bullet would kill him. So, instead of dying, he sang songs. Surely there was a rock of ages and a sweet hour of prayer, blessed assurance and great is thy faithfulness. Electa found him. Nursed him and brought him back a way that seemed familiar now. Today, paved roads hide that trail. Houses and cars a great washing up of flotsam in the wake of the past. Standing here, on land that’s been passed down and down and down, it’s easy to count back from seven. It’s easy to imagine that I, too, might manage something great.
Five years ago today my first full-length novel released. On the Sunday before, I held a launch party at my church with a reading, book sale, beans & cornbread supper, bluegrass music, and even some square dancing. It was pretty awesome. And not just because I was finally an honest-to-goodness author. It was wonderful because of the people who came and the way they supported me in celebrating my dream-come-true. Here’s what I wrote on this very blog five years ago: “In Appalachian Serenade Delilah realizes that family is something deeper than blood kin. My FAMILY gathered around yesterday evening and we had a celebration. There was church family, work family, neighborhood family, friends family, family family–and it was one of those times when I felt love wrapped all around me like a soft blanket on a cold night.” Much has happened since then. Some of the dear friends who joined us that night have passed on. Both of my parents now have health issues that prevent them from traveling to NC. We have new friends who have become like family. And yet, some things are the same. Most significantly the love and support of my extended family which now also includes author friends and reader friends. It kind of makes me want to have a party and invite you ALL. Hmmmm. I’ve got another book releasing in November. I might do just that . . .
The hero of my next story is Colman Harpe. I chose the name Colman for two reasons–first, he’s inspired by Jonah (the one swallowed by the whale) and both of the names–Jonah and Colman–mean “Dove.” The second reason is that I grew up knowing a fellow named Coleman Ware who was a local fur seller. Dad took him many a hide for a little extra cash and had quite a few Coleman stories in his repertoire. I even wrote a poem about him. COLEMAN WARE His house, as knock-kneed as he, holds to the hillside with claws buried in the flesh of a mountain. He kills for a living, steel-jawed traps have tongues quicker than the black snake coiled beneath the shed thriving on spilled guts. He opens the bellies of his liveliehodd with a flicking blade and a line of talk that flows sinuous, like blood. He piles hides in a corner. Case-skinned, hollow animals lack only heads and feet; lack only claws and teeth. Wiping death from his knife on a dirty pant leg, he cuts into an apple. Slicing chunks of fruit against a steady thumb he eats from the blade as one who knows how all our stories end.