Monday, July 19, 2010

We were mountain men and we liked it.

"My old grandad said that when he had at last made his way to the top of the big rim where he could see over into the Carolina Piedmont, he expected to start down the mountain slope. But, when he got there and looked, all he could see was a great blue ocean of peaks stretching out into the haze of the distance as far as he could see.

"Laurel and rhododendron were in great plenty, along with sweet shrub and witch hazel, wild sweet williiam and holly, alder and sassafrass, sumac and buckeye. The herbs were there too. "Yarb" doctors have dug them up for generations. There are still those in the hollows who know how to brew for distempers and aches -dog hobble and mullein, horsemint and wild cherry, boneset and queen of the meadow, ginseng and lady-slipper...

"There had never been any pillared mansions in those remote slopes and valleys. Nor had there been any ease from labor. The cabins had been not much better than those of slave quarters on the plantations.

"When you think about the mountains in the old days, don't you go thinkin' about them in terms of picnics and these little walks you call hikes. I remember the ox-carts strainin' and creakin' and complainin' along the ridges. I think of men walking a hundred and fifty miles and fetching back things they needed on their backs, or maybe packin' it in on a horse. Some drove oxen and it took a couple of months to come and go. It was long hard work.

"We were mountain men and we liked it."

The South and the Southerner, Ralph McGill, 1964. Offered for sale by Chewybooks as of July 19, 2010

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