Our State Magazine: Mountain Glory

North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti reflects on his Watauga County home.

graveyard-fields-pisgah-national-forest

Photography by Scott Hotaling

I live in Vilas, roughly five miles northwest out of Boone on U.S. Highway 421 South, a mere nine miles from the Tennessee line. Vilas rests quietly, rather anonymously, at an elevation of 3,266 feet. Its population is 3,482, a statistic that strikes me as outlandish. I simply can’t picture that many citizens here. Nestled in a valley, its name derives obviously from a permutation of that word — in all likelihood, I’m thrilled to announce, from the Latin: vallis.

When my wife, Joan, and sons, Jacob and Beckett, and I first began house hunting in Watauga County, after I accepted a teaching job at Appalachian State University, we were certain we wanted to live on the highest affordable peak.

There was something so romantic, so seductive, attached to the notion of panorama: the power to see forever. Searching for houses led us ever upward into the clouds, where blacktop suddenly turned to mud and millstone washouts, grassed-over one-lane two tracks, shear on both sides, the drop-off like Kilimanjaro, darkness mantling us along with vertigo… [continue reading at http://www.ourstate.com/mountain-glory/]

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