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Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE, New and Selected Poems was published by Carolina Wren Press (N.C. Laureate Series, 2010.) She is the author of ACROSS WATER and NIGHT STUDENT, State Street Press, still available on WWW at Alibris and Books Again. Her poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review and other literary magazines. "Carolina Bluebirds" was published in THE POETS GUIDE TO THE BIRDS, Anhinga Press). "Grass" was reprinted in the 50th Anniversary Issue of Southern Poetry Review: DON'T LEAVE HUNGRY ( U.of Arkansas Press.) Seven poems were reprinted in the textbook, SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN POETRY,(McFarland.) Two poems were published in SOLO CAFE, Two more poems were published in SOLO NOVO."In the Nantahala Gorge" was published in Pisgah Review. "Studying Winter" was reprinted in Pirene's Fountain Anthology and "The Collection" in Collecting Life Anthology. Most recently, Southern Poetry Review Edited by James Smith, published "Our Great Depression," and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. VII: NORTH CAROLINA,Edited by William Wright, reprinted "Leaving in the Dead of Winter."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Deep in the Southern Appalachian Mountains on January 30, 2010




Why would anyone want to live deep in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, on roads with dangerous conditions? In my best observation, this is the coldest January, the January with the most snow, being snowbound, the list of days with "cabin fever", and not the best of health, the worst ever January.

On the phone last night, I told one son it is the most beautiful sight. I do fully believe he would find it breathtaking. I did not tell him if his father and I had experienced this January in our first year here in the sixties, we would have tuned back. There would be no "back to the land" and none of our family history on this mountain, I am certain.

This morning I told a friend that this bitter weather reminds me of the January in the seventies when my father died, my husband left, my oldest son graduated from school and went to college, another son left the following year. The friend said, "Your father died and your husband left the same January?" We've been friends for many years. She did not know this. Yes, I admitted, and I told her, "My life as I knew it ended." That one time has been brutalized with January memories for me to dread. I now cannot even remember when I recovered from it, but I did.

It is different now. I made a new life for myself. I went to college. I became a certified teacher with 26 years as a NC State Board of Education educator. I became a practicing poet, an M.F.A. graduate, an instructor of writing, an author of three books of poetry, became a N.C. Arts Fellow, became a worker for NC Writers' Network and cofounder of NCWN West.

I am a woman who found happiness, with my full sun garden in the middle of a forest, on the northside of the same mountain. This morning when I saw my rhododendron bent to the ground, encased in ice, it troubled me. I know some of the perennials will come back. Some will not make it. All day today as ice breaks branches, I cringe.

Although in a lifetime, this is one of the worst Januarys for me, I will stay here on the mountain.


9 comments:

Lynn Hamilton Rutherford said...

Oh my gosh ... it's beautiful!! And I love Sasha peeking out from around the snowy bush!!! Home ... I miss it! I was coming up this weekend, but now, it looks like I'll have to wait! *sigh* I love you! Kiss the critters!!!

Carole Thompson said...

Dearest Nancy: You have been on my mind, there up on your mountain.
It has been a harsh winter, almost like a little ice age coming. Daffodils were poking up by my sidewalk, so my heart lifted a bit.You have become a wonderful, empathetic teacher; mentor and friend. The pain you suffered refined your best qualities and brought you to all of us. God keep you strong on your beloved mountain. Carole Thompson

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer said...

To me, life in the Appalachians has always mimicked life in general: brutal, bitter times but also brilliant and beautiful ones. There are such gifts in these mountains! I'm sorry for your pain, but what better place to heal?

Nancy Simpson said...

You are right, Jayne.You just keep putting one foot before the other and one day, when healing occurs, you don't now how it happened.

Your words are so true: " Life in the Appalachians has always mimicked life in general: brutal, bitter times but also brilliant and beautiful ones."

I imagine all of you will be glad when spring comes and I get back to flowers, flowers everywhere.

Tipper said...

Oh Nancy-it looks like a fairy ice land to me. Beautiful doesn't say enough-it is so magical.

I'm sorry January has been hard for you in the past-and in the present. But I love that you and your mountain persevere and continue.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've been concerned about you up there on your mountain in this horrible weather. I heard that the Farmer's Almanac predicted it. I think I'll start reading their almanac.

I had no idea about your husband and father. You are a strong woman Nancy. It would have broken many. I love how you re-invented yourself. You should be very proud.

Stay warm.
Sam

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Nancy, I've been worried about you in the midst of all this winter weather. We were without power for 2 days; thank goodness for the woodstove. The photos are beautiful. I haven't downloaded any of mine yet, and I missed the full Wolf Moon, as our lights went out after dark and we were distracted by various chores related to that. Thanks for your post on Cathy! love, K

Melissa Greene, LPC-MHSP said...

Thank you for sharing that. It really touched me today.

Glenda Beall said...

You are one of those strong women, Nancy, like those mountain women of long ago who persevered after losing children, losing mates, and parents, they kept on.
And every struggle makes us stronger. The sun will shine again and the flowers will soon be peeping up from the ground. Can't come soon enough for me this year.