It has been 2 years since the mountains grabbed hold of me and pulled me home. I was driving to work this week and noticing the beauty of this place and feeling so very grateful that I truly live here again and am not just a visitor for special occasions.
It hasn’t all been easy–by any means. From the time we bought the property to the day we moved in was 14 months. The house is truly beautiful–to us. It is rural to say the least and that has its own challenges. I won’t call them struggles because anything worth having is truly worth effort. So let me share these few with you, lest any of you think this has been truly and completely idyllic.
The excavation of the property and the building of the house was completed on our move in day with a septic system being put in. Or to put it more explicitly, a big concrete box was placed in a big hole in our front yard along with several trenches that were dug strategically and those became our drain field. This was covered back up with the existing or should I say remaining red mountain clay and then grass seed was sowed and a lot of straw placed on top of that. Do you know the old saying about planting seed on fertile soil? Well, this wasn’t and in the weeks and months to come we lived in a field of mud. Our yellow golden became a very reluctant bather under our deck. Winter came and snows and more mud followed in our yard.
With the coming of Spring we ordered 10 loads of top soil to be brought in. That was March–it came in June. It was such a wet spring and it just wasn’t feasible or physically a good idea to get the dirt until then. Still no grass. In early June, those 10 loads of soil came with an old friend and a skid steer to move it around. We bought the seed ourselves and spread it and raked it by hand. Then came the trip to the local general store which sells everything from soft drinks to pipe fittings to flowering plants and as you would expect–bales of straw. We bought 10 bales and brought it back home spreading it again by hand. I was black and looked as if I had worked in a coal mine all day after spreading that all over our yard. This time–it worked! The rain continued and in a couple of weeks I had baby grass growing everywhere!
I also now understand just how and why farmers “pray” over their fields. Each day begins with taking the dog out and walking over the yard looking at all the new grass and wishing it would grow into this full healthy beautiful yard over night. It didn’t. But, a few weeks in and there is now grass. Of course I have had to buy more grass seed, rake the bare spots and move the old straw around to try and fill those in. Today, this morning began again with my walking around and “praying” over these patches as before. I’m afraid the battle against the bare spots will continue for quite some time.
The carpenter bees came in early spring and I became an avid researcher of methods to keep them from burrowing holes into my new house! Within just a few weeks I had a hole in the wood frame of my basement door. 4 traps later and all but one trap has dead bees inside. Their numbers as they always do, slowed down in the summer but I know they will be back in the early fall and I’ll be ready. I plan to move the one empty trap to a more sunny exposure to see if it too will trap and kill the bees. (no insecticide–completely ecologically friendly)
Our amazing good fortune in hitting the artesian well has not been completely smooth sailing either. While I can still get enough pressure to shower without power on the 2nd floor–we had to install a swirl filter to keep the silt out of the lines. Early on in our first few weeks in the house, the small filter in the back of the washing machine was filling up every 2-3 loads of laundry with this fine grit. I found myself climbing on top of the washer to disconnect the water line and pull the filter out, clean it off and then replace it. The other thing we had were crickets or grasshoppers finding their way into the house. We would notice the water pressure getting low inside the house every few days. My husband’s research and talking with the man who put the well in led to the simple solution of the filter in the basement. Every week or two I go to the basement, turn the filter and allow water with its silt to pour into a bucket and then close it back off. And with the silt are sometimes a cricket or two. Since then we’ve had no more problems washing clothes or anything else.
We have a good bit of stone work on our basement and retaining wall. This week I noticed a small white snake skin laying along one area. I haven’t seen its owner yet but I’m sure we will cross paths.
To get to our house requires a drive along a couple of miles of dirt and gravel road. And I have to tell you that once I make the turn from the hard top and begin my trip home I feel as if I leave the world of daily grind and enter a world of serenity and solitude. The road is well maintained but now that the spring rains have stopped it is very dusty to travel on by car and the washboards have appeared. Have you ever ridden on a dirt road with the washboard areas? As a child, I remember sitting in the backseat and opening my mouth to make the “aaahhhh” sound and have the vibration of that sound made by bouncing quickly over the bump, bump, bump in the dirt that we called a washboard. It looks very similar to the old metal washboards women used long ago when you look at these places in the road. It also makes for a very dirty car however.
Internet access is another daily struggle in rural Appalachia. We have DSL internet here and it is the bare minimum in strength and speed. But, it is all we can have. We don’t have a tower close enough to do a hot spot and we don’t have line of site to do satellite–and right now there is not enough satellite available to bring us on until a new satellite goes live in March of 2017. Or so “they” (the pronoun people) tell us. We are too far off the main broadband line for more powerful DSL and there are not enough people where we are to make it worth the phone company running the line to our area. So many tens of thousands of feet makes a difference we are told.
I am writing this page today primarily for myself and for my children to remember this time and place in our lives. There is nothing more perfect than waking up on this mountain side every morning and hearing nothing more than bird song and leaves blowing in the breeze. I spooked a tiny spotted fawn mowing at the cabin last week and was close enough to a pair of twins with their mother to almost touch them on my most recent hike.
What the mountains give me is worth all of these challenges and I do not ever regret and I will never question their pulling me home. It is as if we are camping in a remote mountain wilderness every day. And I do love to camp!
I lie on my back on the forest floor of the mountainside
Above me a blanket in shades of green
Leaves on trees and limbs of gray, black and brown
A few more minutes, the silence deepens
The bird song is a quiet almost distant symphony
If I lay long enough and still enough
I can hear and almost feel the mountain sigh
As if well satisfied that everything under her care is as it should be
She feels and knows I am in awe of her and this place
And she gladly shares what she has with me
Beauty all around
At this moment almost unsurpassed
I inhale slowly and deeply
Breathing in and I too sigh
I am able to feel her and know her just as she is