Topping the summit of House Mountain, my eyes were fixated at the sun dipping behind the Tennessee mountains. The sun-streaks made their final bow as the night was creeping across the quaint farmlands tucked into the valley. Folds of mountain passes wrinkle the yellow glow of the evening and create the photo’s backdrop– a perfect summer’s night in Tennessee.
To a native Appalachian, views such as this carried with them the weight of home, of history, and of tradition. The foreground of this photograph perfectly positions the viewer into the mountain scape, which to mountain-folk is as natural and comforting as eating and breathing. The mountains themselves are both a place of familiarity and adventure, and this is a key to East Tennessean culture. Living in the mountains has been historically challenging due to the rough terrain and rural inaccessibility. However, there is a rich history of compassion, overcoming, family loyalty, and hospitality growing in these hills. Look close enough, you’ll see a farm and a church steeple and a family whose family lived on and worked the land. Get further away and you’ll be on top of a mountain, gazing at the most beautiful place on earth. No matter where I travel, how far or how long, as soon as I see the mountains, I get a sense of relief. It’s like an exhaled breath I didn’t know I was holding. I’m home.