Every place has a story. The photograph above is part of the story of my place. These are my momma's people. The man in the center is my great-grandfather McGee. To the left is my great-grandfather Scalf. Reclining on the log is my grandfather Scalf. The woman standing in the door is my great-grandmother Scalf and the girl inside the cabin is my Aunt Nadine who is now nearly 90. My people are Appalachian Mountain people, born and raised in the mountains of upper East Tennessee. They were poor, hard-working folks like all those in the hills and hollers. They were uneducated by our culture's current standards but had a grit and determination (as well as common sense) rarely seen today.
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul.
I am rich. Oh, I don't mean in the monetary sense. My family, like many families around the country, has been hit very hard with current economic unrest. Our lifestyle has changed a great deal in the last couple of years. We've never lived extravagently but we have always been able to afford the necessities of life and many of our wants. Now our lives are...well...simpler. We used to be able to travel a good deal. We can no longer afford to do that...
One of the greatest joys of our lives is to have hosted foreign exchange students from all over the world. Two boys in particular have become like sons to us. In fact, when folks ask how many children I have, I say I have five boys including two French sons. You see, for us France is more than just a spot on a map, more than just landscapes and landmarks. It is two very special people.