This must be the place: Acadian driftwood gypsy tailwind, they call my home the land of snow

It’s been a wild and wondrous thing to be able to wander around my native North Country right now: to see old friends and family, and actually be able to sit and make time with them. 

Usually, I only find myself back home in Upstate New York when it’s 20 below zero and there are presents under the brightly-lit tree in my parents’ farmhouse. But, with the current pandemic and shutdown, I was able to (safely) head home and be with family over the last few weeks. 

This must be the place: Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go

Somewhere between finishing my column last Tuesday morning and lunchtime, it was decided by my mother that she and I would head to the coast of Maine for a few days.

This must be the place: Home is where I want to be, pick me up and turn me around

It started with a text message. While making a sandwich for lunch in my parents’ Upstate New York farmhouse the other day, my smart phone vibrated. It was my old friend Leah, a beloved face I hadn’t seen or heard from in several years. 

Take a chance and build a boat, some will sink and some will float

On Monday morning, I woke up in a big, cozy antique brass bed at my parents’ 1840 farmhouse up near the Canadian border in Plattsburgh, New York. Rolling over, I grabbed my ukulele nearby and plucked a few jovial chords.

This must be the place: Time and time and time again, circles break and lines they bend  

I awoke to the sounds of tractor-trailers zooming by on the other side of the motel parking lot. It was a Super 8 right off Interstate 84, just outside the town of Maybrook, New York. 

This must be the place: The questions of a thousand dreams, what you do and what you see

It’s been exactly two months since I remember what it felt like. You know, “normalcy.” 

It was a Tuesday and also St. Patrick’s Day. By order of the governor, the bars and restaurants of North Carolina were to close until further notice at 5 p.m. Oddly enough, it was one of the nicest days of the year at that point in the mountains of Southern Appalachia. Sunshine and a warm breeze signaling spring after another winter gone by. 

This must be the place: It was the work of the quiet mountains, this torrent of purity at my feet

Walking out of my apartment this past Tuesday, the morning sun illuminated the mud plastered all over the side of my ole Toyota Tacoma. It was time to edit and put out the newspaper, but the only thing I could think about was when I could once again escape into the wildness. 

This must be the place: It’s hard to frown when ukulele music is goin’ down

Stepping into the hotel room, my mother had an odd expression on her face when she looked at me and said, “I got you something for your birthday. If you don’t like it, then you can give it away to someone.”

This must be the place: It’s a good life that comes upon you now and then

While waiting for my coffee to be brewed in the back of the newsroom this past Tuesday, I stared blankly into the abyss. 

Looking around the small nook, there were memos on the wall, sink filled with cups and dishes, small fridge in the corner and stacks of office supplies on the shelves. The coffeepot burped and shook me out of the trance. 

This must be the place: Searchin’ through the fragments of my dream-shattered sleep

Last Thursday evening, I sat in my recliner, in my one-bedroom apartment in downtown Waynesville, and gazed over at the overflowing pile of old clothes and junk slowly sliding out of the nearby closet like some Southern Appalachian landslide after a heavy rainfall. 

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.