Reading this most excellent article on Tor.com this morning, I learned several things.

First, a new word: “orogen”: a geology term referring to a belt of the earth’s crust involved in the formation of mountains. Also orogeny, orogenies, orogenic and orogenesis.

Second, that my eastern KY roots in the Appalachian hills are ancient. From the article: ” It’s difficult to imagine, but this range contains some of the oldest mountains in the world. Even comparisons fail; for example, the Rocky Mountain range was formed about 80 million years ago. The Appalachians? 480 million years ago.”

You can accrue a lot of ghosts and memories in 480 million years. And the Appalachians feel old – worn down and weathered. The deep hollows (hollers, for some) contain a richness of shadow and mist – they can be spooky or spiritual, depending on your mood.

For me the Appalachian hills are definitely spiritual. I feel at home there like nowhere else. Some of my earliest memories are of running through those hills and hollows, discovering plants, animals, rock formations, pools and waterfalls. That was an idyllic time in my life, and I get a little glimpse of that even now when I enter the Appalachians.

Here’s a picture from the winter of 2002 that I took not far from where I grew up. Subtle beauty.

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