Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cosmic Possums

The expression was coined by east Tennessee poet Jane Hicks. It refers to a transitional generation from Appalachia, those of us who "have one foot in Appalachia and one foot out; and never quite fit either place." Our parents were raised traditionally in Appalachia, but then World War II turned their world upside down. Most of the men went off to war; many didn't return. Of those who did, life back on the farm often didn't offer them what they needed for their families, so it was off to northern factory towns. "Reading, writing, and the road north" were taught in the public schools, we joked. We, the children, grew up in environments that often were hostile to us and, along with our parents, longed for the frequent trips "home."

In many cases, we became the first members of our families to graduate from college. Instead of spending our entire lives within a few miles of where we were born, we have traveled the world. We eat foods every day that our grandparents never heard of. And our children have no idea of what living in Appalachia is all about. Yet .... Appalachia is still home. It calls us as only home can.

To read more about Cosmic Possums, and read Jane Hicks's poem How we Became Cosmic Possums, click here. And thanks to Sharyn McCrumb for introducing me to the concept. She's a Cosmic Possum, too, you know.


  1. Having a true home is so important isn't it? I went back to the road where I was born when my Father died and it brough back so many memories. Have a very happy New Year. Jane x

  2. What you say here Jim is also very true for me and my family. Most often I feel like I have one foot in and the other out, and we were the first to graduate from college and move away and then back. I think I'll go check out Cosmic Possums now. Thanks.

  3. We grew used to seeing the cars with Michigan plates in the area around Decoration Day. The mountains have a way of calling you home.

    Happy New Year to you and Yours, Jim!

  4. That's just being 'homesick'.

    I miss my home too, and I've never felt truly at home anywhere else. And now I don't feel at home 'at home', either.