Friday, March 04, 2005

Restin'

Dear Cousin,
I wish I could take you now into the mountains around my hometown of Beloved.  It is a different world in the mountains this time of year.

The undergrowth has all died down and there's  no sign of the thick green of summer you'll see later in the year as honeysuckle, wait-a-minute vines, briars an' brambles, jack in the pulpit, mayapples an' hundreds of wildflowers wrassle for space under the tall trees on each hillside.

Instead you'll walk under the tall sleeping giants of the mountains; pin oak, shag bark hickory, giant poplar.  Maybe you'll even see a few lodge pole pines the pine bark beetles forgot about in their lust for food.  All around there are signs of the life that will be invisible in just a couple months.  The tracks of whitetail deer wander along the upper shoulder of the hills, just below the ridge so they can travel without bein' seen.  Here an' there are deer droppin's lookin' more like Milk Duds than anything else (Tis true!)  Old tom turkey droppin's will have that familiar j curve to them. That tells you they are in the neighborhood.  Maybe y'all will find a couple turkey feathers or see where a buck had rubbed his antlers slick, shiny white an' pointed like daggers, ready for the battles over the ladies of the herd.  Here an' there are still scrapes where bucks left their callin' cards back during the rut as they marked their territory.

The heart of the mountains - the very rocks peer out this time of year from the rich black soil.  Folks seldom see the rocks on the hillsides in summer 'less it is in a dry branch kept clean by the occasional run off of rain waters.  They are covered with mosses and lichens an' look older than life itself.  Listen real hard an' they whisper secrets that only mountainfolk can hear.

Find a dry spot an' sit a while, cousin.  Sit still long enough an' the woods forget you're there.  Things come out of hidin' - deer, turkey a cluckin' an' purrin' as they scrap around through the leaves lookin' for a meal.  Squirrels - both gray an' fox squirrel start jumpin' from branch to branch doin' a winter wake up for snack trips.  If you are real quiet a woods mouse might come out an' chase its darlin' for a while.  They might even jump an' run over your brogans as they pitch a little mousy woo.

Don't dare to walk to the ridge 'less you want your heart broken worser than any sweetheart ever broke it.  If you walk up that ridge you will look out over the hills an' see them unclothed.  They are bare of the cover that hides the majesty of the Appalachias.  You will see them in their plain and rugged glory.  It will suck the wind right out of you an' you will stand speechless, breathless in the glory of what God wrought.  It will get aholt of your mountain spirit an' tell you to stay right there, frozen like the very rocks.

That's what the rocks whisper to you..."Stay with us.  Go to the top an' looky at what we see.  See it an' stay.  We have room for you.  You-uns stay with us."

You'll want to go back down to town later to warm up.  That restaurant right in town is Grandma's House Restaurant.  Notice how they fixed it up with real kitchen tables an' all the homey touches?   Them oilcloths on the tables makes it right easy to clean up.  Get a big ol' mug of scaldin' black coffee an just sit a while.  My Daddy always liked it scaldin' like that but in a thin china cup.  He liked to feel the heat of the china as he held the slick cup.  Said it felt better to the hand an' as it was goin' down.

Ask some of them ladies about the little ol' roomin' house they turned into a bed an' breakfast.  It's just down the street.  Each room has a big ol' iron frame with a feather bed so thick an' high that they have foot stools by each bed to help you climb in.  They is 3 quilts on each bed made by local women's groups.  Each room has a theme quilt an all the quilts in each room is that pattern.  Ask about the Log Cabin quilt room or if you are brave...the Drunkards Walk quilt room - folks sometimes make fun if you stay there, but it is a favorite.  I am partial to the Crazy Quilt room 'cause they is a quilt made by my Aunt Mag on that bed.  The bed is one they bought from Uncle Jimmy's youngin's that was in our family for many generations.

Some folks say the woods is dead this time of year.  Go up into the hills an' looky for yourself.  Ain't nothin' dead about the mountains this time of year.  Mama Nature is just restin'...waitin' to hit the world at a dead run any day now with shoots an' blooms an' bursts of glory.
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