“A people’s relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother.” ~John Henrik Clarke

Over the weekend my mom, sister, cousin and I took our yearly “girl trip” down to Viriginia to see my extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles. My cousin, Tammy, and I have been making the trip for several years now.  The trip has evolved into a family reunion that takes place on Saturday at John Flannigan dam in Haysi, VA and represents a day where our family comes together to share, take pictures, break bread and catch up, even if only for a few hours.

This year my sister was able to make the trip, which was a first.  She is usually living in some other area of the country and it was nice to have her along.  We spent much time in laughter with our mothers and with each other – laughing at ourselves and each other and sharing stories and memories with each other.  My sister, who is an avid, amateur photographer captured many memories from our trip.

As we ended our time together and our trip, I felt a sadness that it was once again soon over.  We plan to return next year and hope to extend our stay to include stop at Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky.

Tammy and I spent time together in the evening on her mom’s carport looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Truly something from the mountains calls to the innermost part of me when I look with wonder on those mountains.  Hundreds of years have passed since my ancestors settled that wild land and many still cling to the mountains as if they have grown roots.

I will return again and again, I am sure, until the passing years wash the traces of my youth away from those beautiful mountains and I become a memory to that distant land.  Until then, I hope that my family and I can continue to make the yearly trek and renew our attachment to those mountains and to our family.

For those who do not understand the deep, mystical, magical and yet hard and tragic life of the southerners from Appalachia, I leave you with a beautiful song written by Darrell Scott and sung by Patty Loveless.  I hope that you will always openly embrace and cling tightly to your family and to your heritage and may you have something as strong and as lasting as those beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.