Cara Ellen Modisett
Cara Ellen Modisett
Not long ago, I was talking with a singer friend about memory. We both hear so often that smells call up the past for many people, but neither of us had found ourselves particularly moved by scent, except perhaps some obvious ones (for me, campfires, forsythia, a certain pipe tobacco).
The sense of sound has always triggered my memories. The way the screen door shut in my childhood home, the jangle of my mother's car keys, the rhythms and accent of the first preacher I remember, Mr. Sutton, in Luray, Va., the voices of our congregation singing the old hymns, "The Church's One Foundation," "Faith of Our Fathers," "I Love to Tell the Story."
While I was writing back and forth with readers and contributors in preparation for this issue, reading about their favorite mountain trips – and while I was enjoying the change in seasons to autumn and a sense of winter, with beautiful silver dusks, another memory-connected sense stepped in: sight. More specifically, the perception of light.
Appropriately, it was two photographers – John Womack of Hickory, N.C. and Dan Cook of Ringgold, Ga. – who mentioned it.
"I recall coming home from covering something at Clemson, S.C. a few years ago," Cook wrote in an e mail about passing by the Hiwassee Reservoir in north Georgia. "It was night and the lights reflected in the little inlets that come up into Hiawassee... as opposed to Hiwassee (no A) just across the line in Tennessee. Both lovely places, but spelled one letter differently."
"I used to lead photography trips up [to the Blue Ridge Parkway] when I lived in Franklin," remembered Womack. "We would get on the parkway about 4:00 p.m. as the light began to come down from the sky and enter into the mountains and forests. Traffic was already beginning to thin... and we had the high country all to ourselves for the next four hours of wonder."
Light from dim to bright fills my memories too: the light of shooting stars seen from a creekside near Culpeper, Va. and from the top of Afton Mountain; the moonrise over Reddish Knob and into West Virginia, and over the Smokies in Haywood County, N.C.; Christmas lights sparkling all through Berea, Ky.; the glow of Biltmore Estate at the holidays; red sunset over the church spires of Hagerstown, Md.; gray morning light on the Clinch River outside Oak Ridge, Tenn.
2010 opens on the heels of a great 2009. Blue Ridge Country was named top magazine in the country by the National Federation of Press Women. BRC also won national awards for Kurt's Hikes, the blog written by editor-in-chief Kurt Rheinheimer, awards for captions and headlines, for food writing and for "Blue Ridge Parkway Simply Beautiful," the book frequent BRC photographers Pat and Chuck Blackley invited me to collaborate on with them.
Congratulations also go to international award winners author Steve Nash and contributing editors Elizabeth Hunter and Deborah Huso. The International Regional Magazine Association awarded Elizabeth's "From the Farm" another gold, and also recognized Deborah's story on George Masa (May/June 2008) for historical feature and Steve's "Double Vision: Climate Change Comes to the Mountains" (Nov/Dec '08) for environmental feature.
Enjoy all your senses this issue, and this year, exploring our mountains and country roads.