Strawberry Jam: A Lesson from My Nana

Strawberry Jam: A Lesson from My Nana

Strawberry Jam: A Lesson from My Nana

By Rachel Parsons

The art of preserving food has been a vital skill for humankind. In the past, humans relied on their own ability to create a store of food for the winter, when no crops could be grown, to get them through. An extension of this ability is the making of jellies and jams. In my family, this skill has been passed down from generation to generation, and I chose to learn the skill from my grandmother, Dana Pearman Moye, who has perfected the art. Over the course of this project, I have discovered how she leaned the skill, I learned the basics of it myself, and came to realize the importance that such knowledge still holds for humanity.

Click above link to read full article.

In honor of my dear Nana’s 63rd birthday. Happy birthday, Nana!

Lunch with Mark O’Connor

Saturday, April 21st, I was unexpectedly given the opportunity to tag along with my good friend Megan Gregory to have lunch with the one and only Mark O’Connor.

For those who don’t know, Mark O’Connor is probably the single greatest violinist and fiddle player in the states. I’ve loved his music since I was a little girl and of course I jumped at the opportunity to meet him. As it turns out, Mark is a really cool guy and he paid for our lunch at Cafe Lola’s in Johnson City, TN.

Mark also told Megan and I about the biography about him that is currently in the works, shared a cute video of his infant daughter playing her first violin, and told us about his son Forrest, who has his own band, Forrest and the Flight.

Another thing I learned about Mark is that he can play the violin and skateboard at the same time! Check it out!

It really was an honor to meet Mark and learn about his many projects and his talented children. I’m an even bigger fan now! Of course, free lunch is a good way to win my heart, ha ha.

And for fun, a track with Mark, Edgar Meyer, and Yo-Yo Ma:

Universal Hero: The Quest of Vril Dox II

Universal Hero: The Quest of Vril Dox II

Universal Hero: The Quest of Vril Dox II

By Rachel Parsons

            Comic book superheroes are excellent modern day examples of the way our society perpetuates the story of the hero’s quest. Icons like Superman and Batman are easily recognized around the world, bearing the moniker of “hero” with honor and integrity. Just as comic books express the idealistic, perfect hero that everyone wishes was real, they can also show us less glamorous “heroes” whose claim to such a title might seem dubious at best. In the universe of DC Comics alone, there is a wealth of morally gray heroes that don’t quite shine like the Man of Steel. One such character is Vril Dox II, also known as Brainiac 2, the son of Superman’s nemesis. Though Brainiac 2 might seem an unlikely hero and definitely straddles the moral fence, his story is nonetheless a good example of the hero’s quest as it is described by Joseph Campbell, in his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces.

Click above link to read complete essay.

Oakwyn Farms

To follow up my last post, I wanted to add a little more information about the farm that my mother and stepfather run in southern West Virginia, Oakwyn Farms. They raise gardens every year and sell vegetable shares to people in the surrounding area. They also raise organic beef and lamb, which they sell from home.

Please check out their Facebook page: Oakwyn Farms

Eat What You Are: Community Supported Agriculture at Oakwyn Farms

Eat What You Are

“Eat What You Are”: Community Supported Agriculture at Oakwyn Farms

By Rachel Parsons

First Printed in Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Volume 27, Number 2, “Serving Appalachia”

The land of the Appalachian region is fertile farmland, ideal for many staple crops. Once, all who lived in this region were farmers, or part of a community that raised its own food. Everyone has to eat, and as they say, you are what you eat. However, the food you buy in the grocery store today brings with it many questions. What kinds of chemicals were used to produce it? What health risks are associated with certain preservatives? How diverse are the ingredients of the assortment of processed foods that are available?  It can be overwhelming to try and keep up with all the facts. Luckily, in some places there is an alternative. At my family’s farm, Oakwyn Farms, my mother and grandparents saw the need to provide a safer way for people to eat. They started what is known as a CSA – a Community Supported Agriculture program. Through this program, we provide fresh, homegrown vegetables for many of our fellow community members for a weekly fee.

Click above link to read complete article.


“Boogie, Chilluns”: On Saving Mountains and Crossing the Imaginary Line

“Boogie, Chilluns”

  “Boogie, Chilluns”: On Saving Mountains and Crossing the Imaginary Line

  By Rachel Parsons

  First Printed in Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Volume 27, Number 1, “Greening Appalachia”

I am a mountain girl, born and raised in the mountains of Appalachia. Specifically, I spent my childhood on a farm in Mercer County, West Virginia. My family has never had a lot of money, though always enough to get by. I grew up playing outside instead of playing video games, and as such developed a deep sense of wonder for the trees and hills my family lived amongst. I could write page after page about all the good things that nature has done for me, but what I want to write about now is how people can give back to nature for a change.

Follow above link to read complete article.

Appalachian Girl Power

Appalachian Girl Power: A Review of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games”

Appalachian Girl Power: A Review of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games
By Rachel Parsons

At the beginning of the summer of 2011, my mother showed me a book. She told me that this was one of the best books she’d ever read. To my surprise, the book she was offering me was a young adult novel. My mother enjoys Appalachian fiction and nonfiction, and to my knowledge, the only other young adult novel she’s ever thought so highly of was Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, first published in 1962 and read by my mother in 1977. However, the book my mother was telling me about was not a well known, well beloved story from her childhood. This was a book I’d never heard of before called The Hunger Games.

Click the link to read the full text.