Holly Haworth’s essays have appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and have been listed as notable in The Best American Travel Writing. Her work can also be found in the New York Times Magazine and Orion, among other places. Currently based in the Georgia Piedmont, she is at work on her first book.
An essay from the Place Issue
He seemed to be governed by boomerang physics, propelling ahead of me and quickly beyond my line of vision—out to the edge of the flickering earth, to sniff the horizon (scent-trails of coyotes, perhaps, his kin, holding the boundaries of the house of the sun), out to the edge of the tame, to lick at the nameless wild with his mottled tongue. Then, a faraway dot, and another dot beside it, growing larger, two dogs racing toward me, mine in the lead, full-tilt ahead with a spreading toothy grin that split his face, hyena-like, the other dog trailing him, the slap of their paws on the soggy ground, happy.
A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue.
Pulled by the pale, stout horses, we listened as he told us the history of the paniolo culture in Hawaii. I sat on the wagon’s bench behind my father as he talked. I sat and listened as if cocooned in that place, that time, enveloped in those clouds of mist that we drifted into and out of, wrapped in one of the wool blankets that my father provided to the tour’s guests. When prompted with questions from the visitors, my father told about himself, his history as a jockey in Tennessee, and how he ended up in Hawaii to work with horses—the first time I learned those things about him. I wasn’t in his story. I tried to work myself into it, but I couldn’t.
Freshwater bivalves evolved by sending their larvae up rivers in the gills of spawning salmon. Now, like their ocean ancestors, they live out some of the most obscure lives on the planet, clasped in a darkness of their own creation, sometimes for up to a century or more. “Under a firmament of nacre,” wrote the French poet Francis Ponge about the oyster. A firmament, yes, because, like the sky, it is vast and ancient. Because, like the sky, you can get lost in it.
After a long stay in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, I was going home to my Appalachians, the Blue Ridge of Virginia. I could tell you more about that summer—about loneliness, maybe—but this is not a story about that.
The experimental quality is the thread that stitches all the disparate pieces of the weekend-long event together. The festival combines musical performances with panels and talks, art installations, film screenings, and interactive workshops, pieced together like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster—the creature made of many parts. Big Ears, Knoxville’s monster, might be one of the most quietly earth-shattering, subtly luminous festivals the world over.
In East Tennessee, just south of the Kentucky border, Carol is known as “the forest granny," and she harvests roots for many people. Yellowroot is her favorite because it’s the most all-purpose medicinal plant in the mountains.
In 2008, a massive retention pond at a Tennessee Valley Authority coal-fired power plant burst open, spilling more than a billion gallons of coal ash into the Emory and Clinch rivers, burying about 400 acres of land under six feet of ash. The spill was one hundred times greater in volume than the Exxon Valdez spill and by far the largest coal ash disaster in U.S. history. When TVA decided to send the ash by train to a small, poor, rural, mostly black community outside Uniontown, Alabama, the EPA approved the decision. That same day, the first train of eighty cars clicked down the tracks to Alabama.