A True Story
Our thanks to WM owner Martin Scherer for this post that details how he found the Mountain and what it means to him. Martin is an Englishman and travels extensively.
If you were a Brit and had the choice between the mountains of Italy and the American Appalachians, which would you choose?
Shortly after dawn, a few years ago, I stood near the summit of a hill and looked out across a deep river valley shrouded in mist. Beyond stood waves of hills rising towards distant mountains. I felt inspired to write. Before I left, I had the outline of a story that won my first writer’s competition. I vowed to return, buy the land and build a writer’s retreat.
That was Italy. The River Tiber flowed in the valley below, on its path through history to Rome. On those hills, a Roman Emperor saw a vision that ensured his patronage for Christianity and the greatest book ever written: The Christian Bible.
I soon discovered the problems of Italy, aggravated by the language difference. My dream faded into the future.
A year later, lamenting my loss to a good friend in Florida, Logan told me to go see the Appalachians. He lent me his cabin and introduced me to his friend, Mountain Man Dan, an unusual realtor, more interested to listening to my soul than my wallet.
Dan introduced me to trail trees, set by great American Indian tribes, including the Cherokee and Shawnee. I followed their direction to find old towns and gorges with fast running rivers. Passing wild turkey on roadsides evoked thoughts of Pilgrim Fathers. On tight corners stood placards pointing to more churches than I’ve seen Italy. Black bears ran across the road before me. Here lies the origin of national parks which in America lead the world. I found the Appalachians steeped in history, written in tears of Indians and American brothers in civil war, and miner’s wives.
The Appalachians are amongst the oldest mountains of the world, spreading from New York, the largest publishing city, towards the deep south of the world’s largest book market. If there is anywhere to inspire me to write, it must be the Appalachians. A thousand stories to steal, and even if I don’t, then surely the majestic scenery, conflicts, and dramas of these mountains would energise my writing. With the rhythm of a best seller, the land struggles to climactic peaks, then falls precipitously through woods of strange beasts to shadowed valley, only to climb back out again.
Well over a hundred best selling authors were inspired by the Appalachians, from Thomas Wolfe who set both its places and peoples in his novels, to James Dickey of Deliverance and Charles Frazier of Cold Mountain. These mountains inspired O’Henry to dream of New York Streets, Carl Sandberg to write Lincoln’s biography and Pearl Buck the first female Nobel Literary Prize winner. The doomed spirit of the Fitzgerald marriage still roams these mountains.
In his gigantic pick-up, Dan took me up sheer mountain tracks, pumping adrenaline through my veins. The top of some mountains seemed scalped by a Red Indian God. A view that stares you in the face all day is soon forgotten. I wanted to stand in treetops, to glimpse the view through trees. Dan found it in a bargain of a house on Wolf Mountain at a quarter of the price of Italy.
By chance passing, Dan introduced me to the neighbourhood Chairman who seemed a good guy. I bought the house and sold the land in Italy.
Enjoy Martin's blog at http://onthissideofthepond.wordpress.com