The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Message from The Mountain Laurel

By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012

Issue: August, 1983

The Mountain Laurel is blooming along with its namesake. Everywhere you go up here, the hillsides are bursting into bloom. It’s my favorite time of the year. (I say that about all seasons. I love all seasons, even winter with its snowy, white blanket. But springtime is special.) It’s a time of living, of beginning and of nature’s celebration at the emergence of new life.

Mountain flowers are the most beautiful flowers on earth. Late in the evening, just before dark, I like to ride the little, unpaved BACKROADS in this area, traveling at no more than 10 or 15 miles an hour. I often stop to listen to the streams I pass. I see all there is to see - wildflowers, birds, dark green pastures with rail fences, deer, rabbits, groundhogs - all contributing to the beauty of this masterpiece of a place.

Lately, we’ve been working so hard at making a success of “The Mountain Laurel” that we haven’t had time to take many late afternoon drives. In particular, all our efforts and time have been devoted to broadening our circulation. Since our first issue in March, when we printed 5,500 copies, our circulation has increased 450% to our current monthly printing of 25,000 copies. We are currently being distributed at over 1,000 stores and other retail outlets from Maryland to Florida. We have been so well received by our readers that words could never convey our thanks to you. We have received letters from all over America that have been so encouraging to us as novices at publishing. We want everyone to know we thank you so much.

We feel an obligation to you, our readers, that goes beyond “Business,” to enjoying sharing our home with you. We enjoy “introducing” people like Matt Burnett, Tyson Sutphin, Ella Boyd or Clara Marshall to you. They’re wonderful people who are a pleasure to get to know. We also enjoy sharing our favorite BACKROADS with you and hope you’ll enjoy traveling them as much as we do.

What with devoting so much time to growing, lately we’ve been missing little league games and the most beautiful time of the year. We had planned to continue to increase our circulation but we’ve changed our minds. Lately, it seems like we’ve been spending more time in business meetings than we’ve been spending talking to people like Matt Burnett or Addie Wood. We’ve been working on “media kits” more than we’ve been riding BACKROADS. Today we decided to reassess our priorities. The things we write about in “The Mountain Laurel” are the things we love about this area; the people, the beauty and the stories. From now on, we’re going to “slow down and smell the flowers.” We’re not going to continually grow larger if it means losing sight of all the things we love about the mountains. Sure, we’d like to grow, but not if it means not having time to drop by Mayberry and talk to “Miss Addie” occasionally or take late evening rides on unexplored Backroads. They are the reason we love this area and they’re too precious to lose, either by us or our readers who get to know them through “The Mountain Laurel.”

We made ourselves a promise, starting now, we’ll be devoting less time to “business meetings” and more time to exploring new BACKROADS, finding more old recipes, meeting more wonderful people who enjoy sharing their “Mountain Memories” and more time to sharing them with you, our readers.

On the front page of the first issue, we said, “We love this area with a passion and never tire of its breathtaking beauty. No gallery or museum in the world can offer the beauty we find around every curve in the road or trail. “Old Man” Coy Yeatts, sitting in a straight back chair at Mayberry Trading Post said of the area, “If you tell how beautiful it is, you’ll be bragging on it. Have to be.” This is the most beautiful place on earth and nobody could have said it better than Mr. Coy and he’s right we’ll be bragging on it.” We are going to continue to do that by telling you each month of the people, places and stories we’ve come to know.

Thank you for all the wonderful response and encouragement you’ve given us. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy our efforts at relating our love of this area to you, our readers!

I had a business meeting at 6:00 this evening but it’s been canceled. We’re going to pile the kids in the old Ford and go for a ride, somewhere close by where rabbits will be sitting in the middle of the road and deer will watch us drive by and indigo buntings or yellow finches will be darting about. We’re going to savor the “mountain way of life;” we’re going to relax and enjoy!