I grew up on the bend of Dismal Creek, an Appalachian holler that offers nothing to brag about, except I probably know a thing or two about living a solitary life surrounded by trees and wildflowers. Nature sustained me, nature nourished me, and above all nature showed me divinity. People often ask why I have a preoccupation with flowers. I tell them God has always smiled at me through flowers. Naturally, they think I’m crazy and bear down on the notion of giving me a wide berth in case whatever I got might be catching.
I still love lying on the grass with a dog by my side feeling a soft breeze blow over me while the crickets rub their knees together creating a musical event for those who stop to listen. Even the robins walk by and enjoy my good time, laughing with me over the splendid day with just enough sunshine to warm a body but not so much it scorches the edges.
I’m no St. Francis of Assisi but still I live with the same girl-dreams I had when walking along the bend of Dismal Creek. In fact, the language was so fluid in those parts I called the zoology saint A Sissy. For years my pronunciation of words left people Up North baffled at me and laughing at their misunderstanding of my meaning. Eventually, I developed a kind of downhome sound combined with a Boston accent that piques the curiosity of those few who have an ear for dialect. People still ask me ‘where are you from’ which makes me smile ‘cause we always considered it bad manners to pin a person to their whereabouts. You never knew when someone was running from something or running to something, so we thought it best to let a person go on their way without explanation. Besides the correct way of asking is ‘whar’ you from’ without the bothersome verb, a musical shortening of a sentence that is followed nicely by the words ‘don’t say’. This is where my romance with the language began, where I come back to often in search of a liveliness not found in what’s known as Standard English straight from the dictionary with very little imagination. It leaves me bored from listening to the general population trying to sound like academics or the blandness of a radio host. Take me to a mixed-race neighborhood anytime to hear the familiarity of my own downhome sound, a lyrical blend of metaphors and alliteration that makes a person want to dance to the rhyme of a language so lively it can easily be turned into jazz.