Fond Memories of a Mountain Childhood in Appalachia


I want to invite you to walk with me through the woods and around the rugged hills of my home.

Our house was situated beside the community water tank, with a rock cliff behind it, and the mountains that rose high above the cliff…well, they were my mountains.  

We made a path around the side of the hill that led us to a garden spot which we tended annually, It was an open plot of ground, with good sun exposure and a natural spring flowed nearby. It was the perfect place for a fresh drink of water.

That garden path served a dual purpose as it was the highway that took us up into the mountains, to play, and to explore.

My childhood in the coalfields was filled with explorations offered by nature.

The mountains were my classroom, beckoning me each summer when school was out. It was a great feeling to sleep a little late, get up and have Momma’s gravy and biscuits, pack a picnic lunch consisting of a jelly biscuit and a Mason jar filled with water or Kool-aid and head out to the mountains!

The wide sweeping limbs of the Rhododendrons, like outstretched arms, greeted me at each visit. Those limbs formed a canopy under which I sat, quietly undisturbed, to bask in nature.  My mountains were always filled with intrigue and beauty; Brilliant white trilliums graced the setting of orange mountain azaleas and crimson red wildflowers which bloomed in the rich earth beneath the trees. Toadstools had happy homes against the base of the tree trunks and thick, green moss carpeted the grounds around them. One secluded spot beneath the dense growth of trees could paint a vivid portrait. And it did! And every painting has been framed in my memory and beckons me to visit often. 

My West Virginia mountains. “My” mountains.

Writer Phylenia French is a West Virginia native currently living in Christiansburg, Virginia. Her self-published book is ‘Home Spun Yarns, Tales to be Told from the Front Porch Swing.’