West Virginia: we are that tucked-away state in the mid Atlantic that everyone confuses with Virginia. People have described the shape of our state as looking like a toad squashed on the highway or a two-handled frying pan. Maybe. Our borders were shaped by rivers and mountains and by war. Our history was forged by pioneering heroes and heroines, who offered up safety laws and civil influence that helped shape America. We are mountainous and proud of it and the culture that developed is mountain culture. It is a particular way of thinking, of behaving, of believing, and it is as good as what developed anywhere else. Of course, we have our peccadilloes, as each state does, but as to our foibles—no guessing! We’ll tell on ourselves. We know this: if we sin, we tell our mommas first, because if we don’t, we’ll be walloped and shamed because she loves us inordinately and teaches us the Golden Rule.
I’m a sixth generation West Virginian, so perhaps I can be forgiven a bit about my pride for this state. Of course, the impetus to change is all around us and we’re as wired and satellite-connected as anywhere. So who knows what we’ll be like in ten, twenty or fifty years. Yet, we know our mountain spirit will endure.
For beauty of land, we are hardly matched. Little of our acreage is flat, but what vistas we possess! The landscape can be rugged, like our personalities and our spirits, but we think of our state as a Nature Wonderland. Come here and play! Ski, raft, climb, bike, zip, and hike. Ogle the beauty, observe eagles and the wood thrushes, espy the bears and mountain lions, oh my! We have adventures in abundance for you---and we’re usually warm and fuzzy in our hellos and goodbyes.
Recently, as president of a nonprofit group, West Virginia Writers, Inc., I was asked to edit an anthology for Woodland Press (a wonderful indie press nestled in our southern mountains). The submissions came from WVW, inc. members only. The result is Fed From the Blade: Tales and Poems from the Mountains. A delightful compilation of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, it truly represents the variety and diversity of our state’s writers. Despite the different genres, I worked hard to shape a cohesive, flowing book. The writings in this anthology possess the emotional response that resonates from our mountain attitude--so appropriate to the fabulous, toad-squashed, two-handled, frying-pan shaped state that is West Virginia.
Order Fed from the Blade from http://www.woodlandpress.com/book/fiction/fed-from%E2%80%88the%E2%80%88blade
Check out: www.catpleska.com
Cat Pleska was born in Hurricane, WV, and grew up there and in Pt.
Pleasant, WV. She is the only child of Jean and Vernon Hodges. She
married Dan Pleska in 1973, and they have one daughter. They
also share their home in Scott Depot, WV, with Lexi, a German
Shepherd-Plott Hound mix, and a black and white Tuxedo cat, Zoe.
Visit Cat’s blog: http://www.rednecromancer.typepad.com/mouth_of_the_holler
(photos provided by author)