Image Ā© 1020 Productions via BigStockPhoto

I did most of my growing up in Dalton, Georgia. At the time, I thought we were flatlanders. After all, when we visited Ellijay (which was once a Cherokee town named Elatseyi), where relatives lived, we drove across Fort Mountain and were surrounded by peaks and ridges while we were there. I thought our relatives were mountaineers, and that we were not.

After I grew up, I lived in many places, among them Washington state, California, Okinawa, and Florida. And I didn’t visit my home town for many years.

Imagine my surprise when I went back there attend a family reunion and discovered that there is very little about Dalton that’s flat. Everything is either up or down. Even the street where I used to live has a long, precipitous approach which made cars grind their gears getting up it. While Dalton is not as mountainous as Ellijay, it is definitely not flatlands.

But the thing that surprised me most was my reaction. We drove through Atlanta and headed north, the blue ridges of the mountains began rising on the horizon…and I got a lump in my throat at the sight. I realized then how much I’d missed them and how much they meant to me. Those beautiful blue peaks and ridges are bound up in how my view of the world developed. They are dear to my heart. And since I’ve been writing historical fiction, researching what happened to my Cherokee ancestors who lived in those mountains, who “owned” those mountains, the ties are more wrenching.

Image Ā© Jarek Zbozien via stock.xchng

Last year when my husband and I attended the Pierre Chastain Family Association reunion in Helen, Georgia, we drove back through the mountains to Ellijay, because it was apple season, and I’ve always loved apples from the growers there. And as we drove the winding road through beautiful scenery, I wondered how the Cherokees felt who were dragged from their homes and marched to Oklahoma, leaving their mountain homes behind.

So now, when I see the mountains, not only are my own experiences attached to them, but also what I imagine of how my ancestors must have felt. (You might wonder about that statement, since I’m from Georgia, not Oklahoma…my great-great-great grandparents, with their two toddler sons, returned to the mountains after the march to Oklahoma.)

What about you? Do you live in your hometown or somewhere else? And do you have “mountains” that mean a lot to you?


11 thoughts on “Mountains

  1. I live in the same small town I grew up in. I moved away for a few years after high school, but I stayed in the area. It didn’t really feel like I left, because I stayed within my home school district. When I was younger, I hated that everyone knows everyone but now that I have my own children, I find that I like it more and more. However, I’m beginning to feel that teenage wanderlust again. I want to travel, I’m just too broke. šŸ™‚

      • Thanks. I’ve traveled a little, but not nearly as much as I’d like. It’s hard to travel when you’ve got four kids at home. šŸ™‚ But my husband likes to travel, too, and we’re already planning where to go for our anniversary in a couple of years, and where to go five years later, and I hope we’ll be able to keep on traveling for a long, long time. I love living in a small town as long as I can escape from it every so often. šŸ™‚

  2. I grew up the first part of my life at the beach but the rest of it I spent in the mountains of NC. I had to move away from there for work but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

  3. Pingback: Flatland |

  4. Hi Tommie, I enjoyed your article on “home”. I think that, for most of us, there is really no place like home.

    • I hope you’re able to do as you wish. It’s true the mountains are beautiful, and they definitely have a hold on me, but I don’t think I could enjoy the more rigorous climate that I remember.

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