Listening to a Continent Sing

the companion website to the book by Donald Kroodsma

MARY LOU NAPIER, hillbilly from the hills of Kentucky KY-84

Appalachia: Western Virginia, eastern Kentucky: Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park, Buckhorn, Kentucky

May 16, 7:00 p.m.

Sunset at 8:38 p.m.

Download the Recording

Listen to the local human dialect in the voice and wisdom of Mary Lou Napier, self-professed hillbilly from Hazard, Kentucky, camping at Buckhorn State Park, enjoying the peace and quiet of an evening by the fire. I could have excerpted this conversation and limited it to a minute or so, but I let Mary Lou have her say, for 15 minutes:

"My name is Mary Lou Napier, and I'm from Hazard, Kentucky, and we're down at Buckhorn at the park, and it is beautiful, and we got a fire going, and we're just listening to the birds, the sounds . . . I just like to hear 'em . . . hummingbirds . . . I just like birds, period. . . . the cardinal, oh, it's just a beautiful bird, a red bird . . . birds are fascinating . . . even these poor ugly buzzards, off in the distance they're pretty . . . that was beautiful, that was beautiful . . . I like birds, I like to watch them . . . I drive a school bus . . . I just love to listen to them . . . people call us hillbillies . . . a hillbilly is a friendly person, though. We might be hillbillies, but we got it made down here. We got all of this to listen to . . . in the cities you know, you don't have this . . . listen, this you don't find in the cities. That's why I love Kentucky . . . very nice [Pileated Woodpecker calls]--you won't hear that in the cities . . . you probably have a lot of pigeons pooping on everything, but not that . . . you [we hillbillies] work hard, you don't get rich, but, you know, it's the mornings and evenings . . . birds, trees, beautiful, it's great . . . I don't think I want to go to New York. . . . I like the mountains . . . come and see Kentucky . . .listen . . . [belted kingfisher, pileated woodpecker] . . . Check it out and go back home . . . leave it the way it is . . . It's wonderful listening . . . yes, it is. It's so relaxing . . . Just sit and listen . . ."


Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, song sparrow, American robin, pileated woodpecker, belted kingfisher, tufted titmouse


Mary Lou's campsite