70: Dirt waves

I'm intrigued with regional dialect, mountain sayings, Southernisms from anywhere I've been, and anything that feels genuine.  Earlier this summer, during a lull in the construction of our cold holler log cabin, while waiting to cut some logs, I wrote about the names of places.

A dear friend of mine, Pablo, who visited our steep dark homestead and appreciates the power and allure of language, sent me a great book, thinking I might enjoy it, calling it "one of the best novels ever (some say the best) about Appalachia."  Here's an excerpt that sinks in pretty deep, somehow applying to our cabin, its site, the family around it, life in the holler, or anywhere else.  Of course, the metaphors apply more here than yonder.  Of course, taking an after-work walk to the cabin and watching the leaves fall, the canopy opening its blinds to reveal space and ridge after ridge, sitting beneath its sheltering roof, hearing the wind whistle through the un-chinked walls -- this leads to the kind of contemplation that strays toward existential.  This is my favorite passage so far:

from "River of Earth" by James Still
With his reference to the God, his concentration on man's destiny, his description of a grand landscape, all illusion, Still is optimistic in his agnosticism.

In the eyes of a dogmatic person, Edward Abbey might seem more cynical in one of my favorite essays, quoted below.  Not to me.  Abbey seems anything but atheist -- he's a mystic, and his words describe a sort of heaven on earth, the kind that only some kind of God might create, whether we deserve it or not:

from "Appalachian Wilderness" (Eliot Porter), specifically the essay therein, "A walk in the woods to Alum Cave," written by Edward Abbey

Some evening soon, I'll have to pour myself and a friend a Tuckasegee Brewing Company Bonas Defeat IPA, climb the new trail up to the cabin (look for a post about that), watch the sun set and listen to the owls, and talk these things over.


  1. Neat stuff. If it's the Pablo I'm thinking of, then I hope you can do the same too.

  2. I do love North Carolina dialects. I can just about tell where someone is from in NC after hearing a few sentences. You should check out the North Carolina Language and Life Project. They're going around documenting all the different dialects in North Carolina. Its pretty fascinating and they've already made one documentary, with more on the way. Here is a link:
    here's a link to the documentary:
    The documentary focuses on the coast, specifically Hyde county and the towns along Core Sound, who retain a dialect from hundreds of years ago.


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I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.