It is hard to believe that it is the middle of July now. I started this journey almost a year ago now–buying the property–deciding to build–choosing the home site–finding a new job. Do I sound tired? Part of me is I feel, and yet I feel such a strength and peace from these mountains.
The days are full of work and squeezing in as much time as possible on the mountain. Weekends are filled with mowing grass on the cabin property and the ridge top and trails. And weekend evenings are spent with a plastic chair sitting on what is now the partially finished deck on the house. The Artesian well continues to pour through the gasket on the top into a red plastic bucket, spilling water down the trail and down into another spring area. The well workers have ordered another top and gasket to try and keep the water contained.
The house has decking now that is amazing and the windows are going in. With this house on the ridge we wanted lots of windows so that the outside will be allowed in as much as possible! Our fantastic contractor however, broke the news last week that our we probably won’t be able to move in until some time in October! This means that daily life continues with everything I own in storage.
Driving over the mountain to the property is a slow drive along a graveled dirt road no faster than 20 miles an hour. Winding curves dictate the speed as well as the inability to see around them if other vehicles are coming to meet you in that curve. There is a stretch of the road we now call “Bunny lane” due to the number of bunny rabbits with their white cotton tails sitting in or along side it every day. We often count 4-6 bunnies there and one night at dusk we counted a total of 12. Small little babies of 2-3 inches are still a part of the bunny rabbit summer–what is that old saying about “breeding like rabbits”?
I drive along and see ripening blackberries and frequently stop in the road as I did yesterday and get out of the truck to pick and eat. And of course I get the dark purple stains on my fingers from their juice. But they are so juicy this year and plump from the abundant rainfall we’ve had so far. Riding by the horses and ponies shows the passage of time in their growth as well. On hot summer days they can be seen in the woods along the pasture seeking shade and comfort.
I found myself driving down the road coming home and going over the mountain, thinking about how much I wish I could spend all my time on the mountains, hiking, and writing for a living! I enjoy this so very much and yet I think to myself–“Who does that?”. I have a very good job, but it takes my mind and my body away from the things I am the most passionate about. I have to remind myself that I am not alone in that feeling. I feel so very fortunate to have finally been able to come home to live in this beautiful place! A year ago, this alone felt impossible.
I am working on what I hope will be a journal article on the disappearing general stores in Appalachian communities and I spent an incredible morning just yesterday doing an interview with one of the local community anchors. She is 90 years old and has lived here all her life. She is as sharp as any 20 year old I’ve ever known and full of fantastic memories of life and the changes even this area has gone through. To me the loss of the store and the small communities they anchored seems a thing to be mourned. But this true Appalachian woman like so many before her takes change in her stride and does not waste time with too much regret. Her old farmhouse with the original logs still beneath the white wood frame sits beside one of those stores that is now just an empty reminder of the past. The community named Edgewater does not truly exist any more. Another old home and several outbuilding sit around her homeplace. She does not miss those stores she said, though she relates her joy of penny candy as a girl. She sits in her recliner her laptop computer by her side and a large flat screen TV in the room, she lives in the modern world while surrounded by relics of the past.
She traps groundhogs to keep them out of her flower beds and gardens. My mother-in-law went to visit her a few weeks ago and she said this very petite elderly woman came through the yard carrying the trap and a shotgun over her shoulder having shot and killed the groundhog while in the trap. My mother-in-law told her how amazed she was that she was such a good shot still and the elder simply said, “it’s not that hard to do when they are trapped”.
I find myself envying her life, her past, her strength! She is alone now in her home but has her family nearby, many friends, church members and continues to make a little money by sewing for people in the community. She took a break from our talk to meet with someone who brought their daughter for a fitting.
I think she enjoyed our talk, she really wanted us to come back and I promised that I would! Perhaps she might share with me more about these empty general stores, but I hope she will share more about herself.