Sights of comfort

I remember vividly the first few times I felt the culture shock of moving back home.  The day I saw a farmer driving his tractor to check the mail at the post office–that was the first of many sights and events that let me know I had really moved home to a special world.  It has been over 2 years now and today there are sights that I see on a daily basis that make me feel right at home and comfortable here.  So I thought I would share a few of them with you.

Coming home from a late night shift and seeing large tractors working a field at 11:30 with bright lights moving across the top of the ridge line above the road.  10 cows running on all fours chasing a farmer as he drives his old pick up truck down through the pastures knowing he’s the one with the food.

Power company workers struggling to keep up with the growth of the forest against the power lines to prevent power outages from storms and tree limbs falling.  Helicopters with huge chain saws dangling beneath them cutting back limbs on the slopes of the mountains.

Children walking slowly and carefully up the rocky bed of a mountain stream to explore it and cool off on a hot summer day.  Fisherman lounging alongside the New river with poles in the water hoping to catch “a mess of fish for dinner”. Tractors slowly ambling down the road from one field to the next to work and harvest the crops they planted earlier in the Spring.  Families sitting on the porch on a sunny morning in old cane chairs  sharing conversations about unknown subjects.  The politics of the world or family–either can be solved “most likely” by front porch diplomacy.

Gardens in almost every yard have sprung up and are now full of tomatoes and ears of corn.  I’m sure there is a canner in the kitchen of those homes ready to store a good bit of this away for the winter.  It is the way people have lived here for such a long time.  Taking advantage of the bounty that can come from these mountains. Raising a garden is not an easy task and takes daily effort to keep the weeds and insects at bay so that you can harvest food that can be preserved for the family to eat during the winter.

Corn for cattle feed is growing tall and the fields with their corn husks visible at the tips are truly a something to see.  No huge fields here as in the mid-West but on hillsides and along creek sides they are flourishing.  Fields of pumpkins with their yellow flowers now moving to their small yellow and orange bounty blanket other hillsides I drive past.

Wild blackberries and blue berries have come and gone in thickets along the roads and in the highlands.  Hiking can take twice as long to get where you’re going when you are constantly stopping to enjoy a berry or three or four.

There is art in this–in these sights of comfort. There is beauty in this place that is as awe inspiring as it is timeless.  These sights repeat for those of us “locals” and truly provide a gorgeous backdrop to our daily lives.


Share the Mountains

More about Colleen

Colleen Patton EdD, RN, PA-C Curriculum Scholar with focus in Narrative Inquiry Appalachian native and writer Physician Assistant Educator


  1. Reply

    Hello there Colleen,

    I have really enjoyed reading through your blog today. I was wondering if you have any more information about the Stockner Reunion and who to contact. My 4th Great Grandfather, Andrew Jackson Shuler, was in the same regiment as Daniel Stockner (45th VA company E) and mentions him in his letter home. Phoeba stockner also was present as midwife at 4 of 7 births of my 4th great grandmother, Catherine Matilda Fulks Shuler. I am researching about his life for a creative writing project I have taken on. I am currently trying to find more details about his military career. He died in 1865 of disease. I would love to see any Civil War information on Daniel Stockner, as a way to get closer to my own ancestor.

    1. Reply

      Sorry for the delay here Audrey! I can tell you the Stocker homestead that Daniel Stockner built is in Fancy Gap Virginia and worth the trip to see! He was my great-great uncle, the brother of my great grandmother Christina Stockner Bailiff. Her parents as well as Daniel are buried there at the cemetary near the homestead. I don’t think they had a reunion last year as I tried to find out about it as well. I’ll keep you informed I promise!

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