Happy New Year and Welcome Back!

I would like to apologize to our readers for being AWOL these past several months.  We’ve had some big changes that have taken our attention and energy.  Daniel got a job at the Pisgah Wildlife Education Center and has been adjusting to his new routine, specifically the hour-long commute from his home in West Asheville.  I took a break from writing for pleasure because I was trying desperately to finish my dissertation and needed no more distractions than three rambunctious little boys demanding to wrestle and play soccer.

But the stars have finally aligned.  Last week, after six years of research and roughly a year and a half of writing, I sent my dissertation—all 330 pages of it—to my committee, and I will defend it on January 30.  I called it, “Root Diggers and Herb Gatherers: The Rise and Fall of the Botanical Drug Trade in Southern Appalachia.”  It has been a slog.  My typical routine involved getting into my office and writing for 8 hours straight, taking periodic breaks to eat lunch and walk around campus.  After the kids went to bed, I would hit it again for a few hours.  This routine was interrupted a few times—to grade papers, present at conferences, utilize a residential fellowship at Winterthur Garden Museum, and Library in Delaware, and to give a talk to the Georgia Institute for Environmental Leadership at Amicalola Falls State Park, among other things—but I was pretty faithful to it.

And now I’m ready to pick back up on this blog.  Like before, it will continue to serve as an outlet for my ideas and thoughts on the history, nature, and culture of the southern Appalachian region.  I will occasionally write about my research findings, ponder future projects, and work through some thoughts.  I hope you enjoy it, but I must say this blog is not about expanding readership or attracting sponsors.  We do it largely for ourselves.  It is our creative outlet.  Still, we welcome any comments or suggestions on how we can improve it.

However, my hope is that this blog will continue to grow and evolve as I settle into a job as an assistant professor somewhere sometime over the next year (I am in the enjoyable (sarcasm intended) process of applying for jobs right now).  Above all, I hope it will be of service to my future students.

Happy New Year! I hope it is enjoyable and productive for you all.