Moving to NC, in a rural area has been a soul restoring change. Life is simpler, the pace not as hectic, the daily canvass of absolute beauty, treasured. Really, I have already worn flannel and sweatshirts and I write this knowing many of you avoid wearing this type of clothing with a passion. I'm in autumnal heaven. It was 41 degrees when I awoke this morning and the afternoons are pleasant being in the 60's and 70's. Hearing, notice I said hearing not doing, about canning and putting up veggies gave me the umph to get a special, pre-programmed canning cooker type thing, since it was on sale and free shipping, for next summer. I'll be putting up salsa y'all. You still hear many grandparents being called ma-maw and pa-paw. Church is simpler but seems more powerful. Women's ministry events are simple and helpful and to experience them, delightful. Events aren't termed successful by numbers or how many tears were shed, but successful when hearts are changed and needs met. As much as I love living here and being so thankful for friends and finding a good church, as much as I love the simple and less hectic pace I saw something yesterday morning that hopefully will never leave me.
Vivian and I were on our way to the Cataloochee area when we came upon an emergency vehicle with lights flashing and a man in an orange vest directing traffic. You see a lot of cars being pulled out of ditches or up a long embankment, but the ditches on the side of the road might have only been about a foot deep. When driving past an accident, I rarely look but I did yesterday. There in the ditch laid a brown and white dog...dead or near death. Standing over the dog was a black and white dog licking it as if to make it feel better or maybe saying goodbye. There were cows lined along the fence taking in the whole scene and it even looked as if they were honoring those two dogs having a moment there in a shallow ditch, along the side of a busy road. And there, those two men had positioned their emergency vehicle to shield the dogs and to give the dogs time. Wow, that might not happen in a busy city or town. It would be quick to accomplish the task and keep traffic moving. I could feel tears welling and my heart moved by the love and concern of a dog for its friend and the compassion and patience of two men to let the moment happen yet keep traffic moving.
I told Roy about this scene last night and he grew quiet and he too was crying at the story of two dogs and two men and let's not forget the cows standing at attention along the side of a road. No place is perfect and there are problems and issues in the area but the simple facts of living and dying, of respect for nature, mountains and people outnumber the problems and issues. Yes, I am aware of several homes that have all kind of old machinery in them. I'm glad to live here and serve here.
Writing of simpler times, I loved our visit to Cataloochee....kind of sounds like what Ricky Ricardo would have said if Lucy's name had been Catherine or Kate...Cataloochee, I'm home! Just an hour away, it is worlds away. Once off the interstate, you traverse winding, narrow roads with blind hairpin curves. My hands were sweating as we ascended. The light coming through the trees felt so sacred, like a cathedral made by God's own hands. There is a point where there is an overlook to stop at, probably just a place to let the sweat dry before making the rest of the climb. Vivian and a grizzled mountain man wearing several layers of flannel, yes a flannel loving girl would notice that, and they talked about hunting bears. Her brother had just killed a bear at his cabin in the Green River Gorge and she showed him a picture of it and he began to tell of his adventures bear hunting in the past few weeks. I was so drawn to his stories because his family had lived there in the Cataloochee until the park service bought all the land from the residents to make the park. Sounds like he and his family just moved over to the next mountain. We had come to see the elk but he was mad at the elk because nothing he used was keeping them out of his garden. Bear hunters use dogs to flush the bears out and these mountain men had some beautiful dogs. We continued on our way and came into the area where a church, school house, house and barn remain from that long ago community surrounded by trees bursting forth with color. A stream runs through the area, so the peaceful sound of water accompanied the view. Vivian surprised me by preparing a picnic lunch which was delicious. We had ambrosia apples as our dessert. I had never eaten an ambrosia apple and I hope to eat many more. Very good! We spent a lovely afternoon there and only saw one elk, but boy, he was a big elk. My friend Inez goes there every August for a reunion held in the old church. She and her husband have a friend who is in his 90's that grew up there. I Googled the history of the area last night since I had lost interest in the Astros game and found out that Lisa P and my friend, Colonel Robert Love, of the Jackson Love Highway fame, had originally owned most of the land and sold it off in plots to families wishing to live there. It was a totally confined and self reliant community for many years. Good thing cause going up and down the mountain in a wagon or a horse....well, let's say you would maybe only volunteer once to make that trip.
I had better get moving and start the day...what joy to do so because I have stone/grist mill grits from Louisiana prepared by Ms Vivian for breakfast. Try not to be too jealous.