This photo was taken recently at the park in East Laporte, one of a handful of communities that make up the larger unincorporated community of Tuckasegee, North Carolina (near Cullowhee, home of Western Carolina University). I’ve lived in this area most of my life and I know it’s a beautiful place. Even as a child, I felt these mountains were a part of me, kind of mysterious, yet comforting, too, and now I really realize the river, creeks, and streams are part of me, too. East Laporte is where Caney Fork Creek empties into the Tuckasegee River (alternate spelling Tuckaseigee). The Tuckasegee River pretty much runs the length of Jackson County and eventually ends up in Fontana Lake. Sometimes it’s just known as “The Tuck.” If you saw “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford, then you saw the Tuckasegee River. East Laporte now has an area where you can get in the river to play and splash around (or throw rocks like my little granddaughter does), go tubing, have a picnic, sunbathe, fish, or just sit on the riverbank and take in the natural beauty. The Tuck is a popular place for these activities up and down its length, and no matter where we go from Cullowhee to Sylva to Dillsboro and a little ways beyond, our river isn’t ever far away. But I just learned something new about East Laporte community. There was once a logging town there, a school, and its own post office. Funny how sometimes you drive to and by places close to home and never really know their history; seems like we’re more interested in learning about places far away than what’s in our own backyard. I had classmates from East Laporte and rode through there many times, but never gave it much thought. Sometimes we don’t take the time to learn more about what we see every day, and maybe especially if that’s not where our family roots really are. It’s not where my parents and grandparents came from originally; it’s not where I was born. I realize now how silly that is. This is where my children were born, where my parents met, where a lot of my family has been educated, and where some of us still live our everyday lives right now. A lot of life, some beautiful, some messy, has happened here for me. It may not be the county of my birth, but it’s home. Our hearts are big enough to embrace lots of “home places” tied to memories, to family, to who we are, and to how these places make us feel inside. So, no matter where I may end up down the road, this little corner of western North Carolina will always be a big part of who I am and of my deep appreciation for nature, the river, the streams, the lakes, and, of course, the mountains. It will always be home, and I’m thankful for that.
copyright (c) 2016 by Raindrop Ridge Press