Although I have traveled a respectable amount – at least, within the United States – I have never called anyplace “home” that wasn’t in my native state of West Virginia. Say what you will about this state, but you’ll will never find a more peaceful place to settle.
The earth here is just special somehow. Beautiful, sure. But that’s not what I mean. The land, the trees, the wind – this place is alive in a way that I’ve never experienced elsewhere. The soft waving of redbud trees in early spring; the lush, shiny, deep green hug of the mountains in summertime; the autumn leaves making red and gold patchwork hillsides in the fall; the bright-eyed cold whisper of a January winter.
Ah, home. They call it “almost heaven.” They are not wrong.
The peace of the land eases its way into you, here. Not that we’re all sitting around communing with nature every second of the day. Nope. We’re modern enough to occasionally stress out about whatever floats our way – politics, jobs, family, what have you. But there is a kindness here. The people understand that everyone’s got troubles of some sort, and well, most of us try not to make any more trouble for you. A helping hand and a hug go a long way and are typically freely offered. It’s just our way. I could no sooner stop hugging folks than I could lose my West Virginia accent.
I grew up in the western end of the state, in the small city of Huntington. I never thought much about having an accent until I went to college in the northern West Virginia town of Morgantown. Home of WVU. (Go ‘eers!) I was in Spanish class one day, and a guy in my class asked me where I was from. I told him I was from “here,” then remembered to clarify, “West Virginia.”
He seemed surprised. He said he’d never heard an accent like mine before, he’d presumed I was from farther northeast – Pennsylvania or New York. The guy was from Pittsburgh – which may explain his confusion. 😊 (Sorry, I’m a WVU grad. Can’t miss an opportunity to harass Pitt just a little.)
From that day on, I’ve thought about my accent, and paid closer attention to those around me. It’s funny that nobody thinks they have an accent – it’s always the other guy.
Today, I can recognize several distinct West Virginia accents. For example, Boone and Logan county sound similar to my ear, akin to those of Wayne county, though Wayne has just a little less twang. Cabell similar to Wayne, but another step down in twang, but with more silent t’s and g’s – Huntington is pronounced “Hunnington” in Cabell, where I hail from. Up north, there’s a few more accents, and as you get close to Morgantown, the accents start to sound like Pennsylvania, although most West Virginians refrain from using the PA “y’ens” and prefer the southern “y’all”.
Accents are fun. I like trying to guess where folks are from just by listening to them talk. It’s weird, sometimes, when I watch TV – there’s barely an accent to be found. I think that’s why I love the TV show Barnwood Builders so much. If you haven’t watched it, check it out – it’s on diy network. These guys are from White Sulphur Springs, WV and they reclaim/restore old log cabins. They are smart and skilled, and a lot of fun to watch.
Best of all – they sound like me. Their accents are so soothing to my ear, it surprised me the first time I watched. It’s like visiting with my neighbors. Add to that my precious West Virginia landscape on the big screen in my living room, and well – it’s just lovely. Almost heaven, you might say.
If you would like a little West Virginia on your living room wall – here’s a fun little quilt for you. You can make your own if you have a map to trace, and a little patience…or, you can scoot on over to my Etsy shop and order one. I can custom make it, just for you, like a hug from home. Your own little piece of heaven.