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I grew up in Asheville, and on occasion as a boy I was infrequently left alone in downtown—I was an original latch-key kid—waiting on my mother to drive in from her job in Black Mountain to pick me up after school. Read more

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Some people exist in your life on the periphery; important, yes, but for whatever reason they are there yet seldom actually present. Jean Wall Penland was such a person for me, and I was saddened to hear of her death in early July. Read more

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I often drive across the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and I always feel the presence of nature around me. Read more

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How much of what we do as adults is the result of how we were raised? I pondered that question as I worked in the yard recently. My maternal grandmother and my mother were the two most responsible for making me a lover of digging in the dirt. Read more

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It was odd in mid February to hear the weatherman on the local television say something like, “is this the last blast of winter for the season?” Read more

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Early rising on cold winter mornings almost always kindles for me a momentary feeling of comfort, safety and well-being. What, specifically, keys that response? It is the memory from my childhood of feeling forced warm air on my bare feet. Read more

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For many in the mountains, that first car you got was a ticket to explore. In North Carolina, we took driver’s education class in high school when we were 15 years old. Read more

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Maybe it’s just me. Do others raised in these mountains forget what trails they’ve hiked? Do you lose track of which parts of these beautiful ridges you’ve seen up close and personal? Read more

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A friend’s Facebook meme last month caught my eye. It was the image of a boy playing in the mud, and the caption read: “They didn’t know their clothes were hand-me-downs, or that their home was not a mansion." Read more

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My grandmother maintained a yard of flowers, mostly bulbs. She had a simple house with uneven floors and windows that were covered with ice on the inside in the coldest of winters. She had no money, she lived simply, but boy, did she have flowers. Read more

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