I imagine my ancestors traveling with loaded wagons and packs, babies and small children, through the Appalachian blanket. Perhaps they stopped for lunch in woods carpeted by ferns, leaves and pine needles, and, like me, paused to admire a beautiful orange lichen. Protruding from a tree trunk a child could easily have reached up to break off a “platter” for playtime. Parents would brusquely remind the child to leave it behind as they set off through the woods, the air sweetly scented by sun-warmed pine.
These are the trees my ancestors saw–oaks, maples, pines–as they relocated from eastern communities in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Virginia to the frontiers of western New York, western Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Up and over mountains that chained from Maine to Georgia, the Sayles, Minors and Bradfords sought land and liberty. Generations later I can still smell those trees, see those ferns, climb those mountains, free to explore me because those families dared to labor through the forests of the Appalachians.