Kentucky Geography 101

We’re out of school for the fourth day this week. Or rather I should say an ice day. We have no school in the county or surrounding ones due to ice covered road ways. It rained last night and the rain froze. It’s not that we get that much ice and snow here, it’s just that it only takes a little to send a bus load of children rolling off into a holler somewhere, flying over a cliff or crashing into a ravine.

Anyone who doubts the curviness of Kentucky backroads has never driven on a true Kentucky backroad. In some parts of our county we have curves so bending that it is a common thing to ask folks if they met themselves going around the curve. Some curves are so sharp that a person needs a stretch-mobile to successfully navigate them. Of course these curves aren’t located on flat land with level fields on either side. They lie amongst rock walls, ravines, swamplands, creeks and hollers.

Now if you don’t know the difference in a holler and ravine, here’s my humble definition. A ravine is a sharp drop-off that goes straight down and is often rocky, looks like a booby trap off and Indiana Jones movie while a holler is a long stretch of land that lies at the bottom of a ridge [a long far-stretching plateau]. Some of these ridges are enormous and high, like the one I live on. Entire communities and towns can be built on top a ridge. There are some located about thirty miles from the Tennessee border [like Briar Ridge in I Listened, Momma]. These allow you to see the mountaintops in Tennessee. Some hollers are so big that you can farm them, build towns in them, etc. The distance between the top of a ridge and the holler at the bottom of it is often quite steep, yet slanted enough that objects tend to roll and crash as opposed to drop and splatter as is the case of a ravine. In regards to the various types of “drop-offs” we have around here, my brother-in-law gives some of the soundest advice you’ll ever hear. He says, “Don’t fall out of your yard or might break a leg.”That is never more true than when there is ice involved.

Call us Appalachians wimpy if you want, for letting school out due to less than an inch of road coverage and temps in the thirties, but I had rather be a wimp with a child safe and sound, playing with his toys in the basement than sitting at the bottom of some holler somewhere, waiting for a rescue. So the way I figure it, snow days are an expected given. I’m glad we have them as opposed to traveling treacherous roadways and they make excellent days for writing in your pajamas.

Author: Darlene Franklin-Campbell

Poet, novelist, artist

4 thoughts on “Kentucky Geography 101”

  1. We have talked before here how eastern KY doesnt have the high amount of tourism that TN NC and other surrounding states has in its mountains. I am not afraid of anyone there but I must admit that amenities are few and the accomodations are somewhat lacking once you leave London not necessarily quality but quantity Growing up in Big Clifty I have met all manner of wonderful people some of which werent that wealthy and whose yards were adorned with loads of junk.

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