“When I was younger, I’d beg Uncle Joe to let me ride Bert as he drove him out the lane to the tobacco patch. Straddled atop ol’ Bert, I’d listen to the squeak of leather, take in big gulps of the mule’s scent, and listen to the dull rattle of harness chains as we made our way. As crazy as it sounds, Bert smelled good. The equine family has a unique sent that no other animal has. If you’ve ever experienced it, then you know what I mean.”

Good writing is personal, and Carolyn Ritchey’s new book, “Last Stand at Fork Creek: A Farm Family Fights to Save Their Land, Community and the Little Tennessee River,” is as personal as it gets. Like any good story, “Last Stand” has heroes, villains, struggles and victories. But the final act doesn’t come within the book. The redemptive part of the story, for the Ritcheys and other Monroe and Loudon county families who were bullied and betrayed by their own government, comes with publication.

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Matt Deaton is a native of Monroe County and resides with his family of five in the Lakeside community near Hall’s Grocery. Find him at MattDeaton.com

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