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suzanne-etienne-bowl-of-strawberriesWarm, soapy water trickles over the backs of my hands as I rinse earthenware bowls and mugs. Behind me, my son (his iPhone and iPad forgotten for the moment on his blue plaid bed downstairs), cuts strawberries and places them in a Tupperware container to munch on throughout the day. The silence is punctuated only by his periodic exclamations over the size of the ripe, red berries until my mother takes up her dulcimer.

She sits in a ladder-backed chair, her feet firmly planted on the hardwood floor that is warmed by the midmorning sun shining through the sliding glass doors. She deftly hammers out traditional bluegrass (Loch Loman, Red River Valley, Amazing Grace). My father smiles and takes up a book.

Clad in a favorite flannel shirt (brown, worn, warm), he stretches out in his well-loved recliner. His King Charles Cavalier Spaniel sits faithfully at his side. Still distrustful of me, my son—the strangers in the house–he glares at us (wide-eyed and alert), ready to run from the room should the scary monsters get too close for comfort.

Beyond the plate glass windows the sky is a crystal clear blue hanging over a patchwork quilt of land that stretches as far as the eye can see (The Appalachians surrounding us, Pilot Mountain in the distance). Beyond that, a mere hour and fifteen, our home.

Today, though, this is where our hearts lie. As bright red Cardinals and playful Black Capped Chickadees darting from tree to tree (still barren in the early Spring) outside the kitchen window, I rinse another plate. This—this is morning in the mountains.

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