Issue 6: December 2006



From Appalachia to Asia, ginseng is deeply rooted in the culture

Ginseng Dreams: The Secret World of America’s Most Valuable Plant. By Kristin Johannsen. 2006. University Press of Kentucky. 224 pages. $ 24.95 The rich, humus-laden hardwood forests of southern Appalachia are home to American ginseng, a bright-leaved, red-berried plant


Coal country needs santa more than ever

The Santa Train rolls through three of Virginia’s “coal counties”: Dickenson, Russell and Wise. Along with neighboring Buchanan, Tazewell and Lee counties, the coal counties of southwest. Appalachian Virginia, are among the most distinctive in the Commonwealth. They often feature


Donetta’s Christmas cheer

From there, Donetta Blankenship kicks back at life. At 39, her failing liver struggles to eliminate the toxic levels of heavy metals in her system. Courage, John Wayne said, is being scared to death – and saddling up anyway. This


All in favor of cranberry bogs, please raise your forks

The cranberry sauce on your holiday table is probably from somewhere along the low-lying New England coast, brought to you courtesy of Ocean Spray. Chances are good it was shipped along with millions of other supermarket cans to travel across


Appalachian Classics -- Books page

Appalachia: A History. By John Alexander Williams. 2002, University of North Carolina Press. While certainly a scholarly book, Williams’ readable style makes this an ideal source for the casual reader. His narrative begins with the earliest European explorers and concludes


Ten Years of Appalachian Voice

Anyone who has been paying any attention to the news lately knows that the planet is getting warmer and environmentalism is getting cooler. Magazine covers with people dressed in shades of green have been popping up like kudzu. Newsweek put


It takes a universe: An interview with Thomas Berry

Last year, Southern nature writers John Lane and Thomas Rain Crowe traveled together to the home of ecologian Thomas Berry, in Greensboro, North Carolina. At 91 years of age, Father Thomas Berry is one of the most profound, if not


Caring for Creation: Seeing God's fingerprints in nature.

We love wilderness. We love it for its beauty, power and majesty. Others can stand at the foot of a great sculpture, near a painting or hear a sonata and find the results of God at work through the efforts


Does the Bible justify mountaintop removal coal mining?

Does this mean that the Bible justifies mountaintop removal mining? Not at all. Most translations of the Bible, including the the New American Standard and the King James Version, say “Every valley shall be exalted…” or “raised” — and


Santa train rides again through Appalachia

The crowd started to trickle in by nine, watching the volunteers of “Dante Lives On” set up their bake sale on the concrete slab that marks the site of the former theatre. By ten, children were playing on the


NC's Mountain Bogs Show Amazing Diversity

It’s been a long day in the field, but sitting around a kitchen table strewn with plants, bags of soil and books, N.C. State researcher Brenda Wichmann and Misty Franklin, botanist with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, still


In Memoriam, Charles Kennedy -- Defender of Brumley Mountain

I only met Charles Kennedy a grand total of three times, but his recent death has shaken me as deeply as if I had known him all of my life. The first time I met him, ironically enough, was on


Two decades after “Dirty Dancing”

Early travelers once believed Virginia’s Mountain Lake was bottomless – or, at least, up to 300 feet deep. In reality, the mountaintop pond extends about 100 feet from the surface. And there’s a hole in it. Water comes into the