Peak Mountain in the snow

We Live in a Holler

I was well grown before I realized a holler was the same thing that other people called a hollow. Except that no one in my family used the word hollow for what I knew this to be: a deep, narrow fold in the mountains.

Eventually I realized the word holler was in the same category as tater (potato) and winder (window); simply one of the ways Appalachian people changed the “o” sound to “er” at the end of a word.

One time a publisher responded to a poetry submission of mine by saying that they would love to publish my poem so long as the word holler was changed to hollow. I was utterly taken aback.

At the time (and after much internal debate and consternation) I allowed the change, but I regret it now. I don’t use all the Appalachian dialect I grew up with when I’m not with my family, but I seem unable to change out holler for hollow. That one stays. It’s too much a part of me.

So it’s understandable that people outside the Appalachians might wonder what I mean when I tell them I live in a holler.

Today I took a photo from about halfway up the mountainside directly behind our house. Look down at the bottom right-hand corner: those faint gray squares are our tin roof. (I had to wait until winter time to take this photo, because in summer the woods are too full of green to see this far.)

We live in a holler

Our house is down deep, surrounded on three sides by mountain. In winter the wind roars down, channeled by the ridges on either side of our home, and rattles and bangs the tin roof, blows down dead branches and trees, and scoots even heavy wooden furniture from the back of our deck to the front.

But it’s always windier up at the top. When we hike up, it might be fine and calm at our house, but when we get up higher, we are usually glad for our scarves and hats, because the wind can be fierce up there.

I love our holler, even though it means we only get sun for a few hours every day. Our long (quarter mile) of muddy, graveled driveway is always snowy and icy long after other peoples’ drives are passable. It just doesn’t get enough sun to melt. So we park at the bottom and use our YakTrax to get up and down in heavy snows, and pull a sled to carry up our groceries. The UPS driver will leave our packages on our farm gate, hanging in a garbage bag.

It’s just part of living in these beautiful, wrinkled-and-folded Appalachian mountains.

Our hiking cat Beezus, tromping around on the mountain with me
Our hiking cat Beezus, tromping around on the mountain with me

The photo at the top is of our mountain in the snow. My son took this photo using a drone sent directly up over our house.

0 comments on “We Live in a Holler

Leave a Reply