The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

My Mountain Mama

By Jacqueline D. Pierce © 1989

Issue: October, 1989

Sometimes I wonder if our parents really know just how much of an impression they make on the lives of their children, by the tales and stories they pass on - from generation to generation.

My mom is just such a person. From as far back as I can remember, she would bring to life the stories of her childhood on Chestnut Hill near New River in Ash County, North Carolina. Why it would only take the first few flakes of snow to spark the memory of cold mountain winters. Walking nearly a mile uphill out of the hollar to the nearest road to ride the county school bus, with lunch bag in hand. The way Mama tells it, I can feel the bitter cold air and I can almost taste the biscuit with my grandma's home canned apple butter or maybe a piece of fried fatback an a chunk of cornbread from the packed lunch.

As winter gives way to Spring, mama's eyes wander as she remembers relatives and friends walking, laughing, singing, dressed in their one good Sunday go to meeting outfit on their way to spring revival service, at the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church. Hell fire and brimstone was the topic preached to sinners, but mostly folks were thankful for the grace of God and his help through the cold winter. "I can remember," Mama says, "us children playing church out in the barn when a neighbor lady would visit with mama in the house, why the neighbor kids and us would imitate the grown ups shouting and praising the Lord and boy would we ever laugh and have such a good time. But we weren't about to let our parents catch us doing that."

Summer and fall were always hard working days even for the children. But mom even has a way of making them sound exciting.

I am fully convinced that mom is as gifted as many a mountain story teller. Although she moved from the mountains at age twelve she has a love so deep for her mountain childhood and a bounty of memories. Even still as a lot of folks pack up to go to the beach, you can be assured my mom will be going home. As long as she is able, as long as the mountain stands.

Though I have never lived in the Blue Ridge mountains, I am grateful for the childhood memories my mom has shared with me. When we visit, I feel like I've been here, like we belong, right at home!