Sunday Muse

From “Hope and Contraditions in Appalachia” by Travis Stimeling, West Virginia native and associate professor of music history at West Virginia University.  In the quote below he is referring to J. D. Vance, author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and Elizabeth Catte author of ‘What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia’.

“My Appalachia is an Appalachia of contradictions. But unlike Vance’s desolate and hopeless Appalachia, my Appalachia is, like Catte’s, a hopeful one. It’s one in which people still check in on their neighbors and gather together to share a few songs, regardless of their faith, politics, race, or class. It’s one in which I, as a straight white man, can stand proudly in solidarity with my queer neighbors to demand equal treatment under the law and learn more about how to support other people’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness through compassionate listening and deliberate action. It’s one where cutting-edge scientific research is conducted every day and where future technologies and traditional folkways both provide guidance toward a bright tomorrow.”

Please take a minute to read “Hope and Contraditions in Appalachia” in its entirety.  Our wish is that it will give you, as it did us, a renewed sense of hope in the future of West Virginia and the Appalachian region.  Elizabeth Catte is challenging our people to take control of the narrative about Appalachia, to counter negativity with our own stories.  Travis Stimeling has inspired us to join in and share more about our home among the hills.   #MyAppalachia

Happy Sesquicentennial West Virginia!


A Tribute to West Virginia
By Senator Jay Rockefeller
Fifty years ago, I was on the outside looking in. A young man in awe of a state knit so tightly and beautifully – a place whose people are so closely connected but welcomed me and shared their treasured home.
A place where the mountains touch the heavens and dirt roads lead to home. Suppertime is family time and neighbors always give with both hands.
Where summers mean 4-H camp and sugar maples glow in the fall. Winters test resilience and the sound of spring peepers bring us joy.
It’s a place where glass is blown and handmade quilts get blue ribbons. Buckets of blackberries end up in cobblers. Ramps have their own festival and buckwheat does too.
Where doors are held open and smiles are shared generously. Where we call friends “aunts” and “uncles” because they’re just like our own.
A state whose pride wells with the crack of the Mountaineer’s musket. Who cherishes a university that grew strong out of impossible tragedy.
It’s where John Denver sang of misty moonshine and Rocket Boys reached the sky.
Where we know the sound of train whistles and the smell of newly-baled hay in the sun.
Where we raft our rapids and fish our streams. Hike our trails and ski snow-covered slopes. Climb our peaks and camp in valleys.
It’s a state where weddings are planned around football schedules and prayers said every night. Kids catch bugs in mason jars and know the state song by heart.
Where friendly small towns make us proud and front porches have swings.
Where veterans are hometown heroes and patriotism means more than waving a flag.
It’s a place where hard work is marked by empty coffee thermoses and coarsely stained hands.
Where coal lives beneath our land and underpins a way of life. Steel has been forged and helped build a whole nation.
Where struggle doesn’t mean defeat; it inspires us to fight harder. Where tough times bind us together and we shout our successes from the mountaintops.
It’s a peaceful place where the mountains hold us close and the view from our window reminds us we’re part of a larger story – of something special.
We ache for it when we’re away. And we smile when the words “Wild and Wonderful” greet us at the state line.
On West Virginia’s birthday, I am thankful for my state. I found myself at her potlucks and in her hollows. I found my life’s passion, a call to public service, in her people – work I am deeply grateful to have done for 50 of her 150 years.
I found my forever home.

Sunday Muse

I want to wake up in the morning
Where the rhododendrons grow;
Where the sun comes a-creepin’
Into where I’m a-sleepin’
And the songbirds say, “Hello.”
I want to wander thru’ the wildwood
Where the fragrant breezes blow
And drift back to the mountains
Where the rhododendrons grow.

I want to climb up in the mountains
Where the rhododendrons grow;
Where the Lord is so near me
When I breathe He can hear me
And the whole world sings below.
I want to lay down all my burdens
And forget my worldly woes,
And stay here in West Virginia
Where the rhododendrons grow.

‘The Rhododendron Song’ ~ memories from 4-H Camp

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Happy Birthday

Yet another reason to celebrate today… Happy 149th Birthday West Virginia!

Oh, the West Virginia hills! How majestic and how grand,
With their summits bathed in glory, Like our Prince Immanuel’s Land!
Is it any wonder then, That my heart with rapture thrills,
As I stand once more with loved ones On those West Virginia hills?

Oh, the hills, beautiful hills, How I love those West Virginia hills!
If o’er sea o’er land I roam, Still I’ll think of happy home,
And my friends among the West Virginia hills.
~ words by Mrs. Ellen King, music by H. E. Engle