The Grandkids come for a visit (2010)

The Grandkids come for a visit (2010)

Remember when your Mom would, on a special occasion like a birthday, announce tomorrow we are going to have Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast, spend the morning at the pool, go for ice cream, and then go see that new Walt Disney movie. And Dad would add, and you can stay up late with me to watch the Twilight Zone on TV….. as if after all that fun  I would be able to stay awake after 9 PM!

The anticipation of such a day would almost be more pleasurable delight than one could stand. And afterwards the blissful remembrance of the day, for months to come, would be almost as lovely.

The last two weeks of June were like that. The anticipation built as I yearned to see Cat and Sam. It had been far too long since their last visit, and their home in Denver was so far away. But finally the day arrived and the wait was over. First a few activities in town: Sam went fly fishing with Mike; while Cat and I went to the fabulous Fox theater to see a touring company do Phantom of the Opera. Then we were off to the cabin.

First up was a rafting trip down the Ocoee River in white water that would scare the fleas off a dog. Our son, Matt, joined us for the adventure and we hired his friend Mark, of Ocoee Adventure Center to guide. Cat and Sam proved the stuff they are made of. When the raft lifted as it rode a crest it should have plunged back down, instead the bow rose higher and higher till the raft flipped back over on itself spilling everyone out into the turbulent icy water. It was everyman for himself at that point, because no one could do anything other than follow survival procedure and keep their feet pointing down steam and not swallow too much water, as the river rushed all onward. The guide recovered the raft and picked began picking up the swimmers, Sam was all the way through the next big rapid, somehow managing to keep his head mostly above water and not smash into any rocks. The kids had both remembered the safety talk and did just what they were supposed to do.

 

Next, we invited friends and neighbors over for Barbeque and a Porch Pickin’ . Both Cat and Sam are accomplished musicians so they fit right in and found that Appalachian Blue Grass music was not too different from their Rocky Mountain style. In no time at all they were jamming with the other players.

We are going to make the Porch Pickin’ an ANNUAL EVENT at the cabin.

Having never seen lightening bugs (you might call them fireflies), it was a new experience catching a jar-full to light their sleeping loft.

 

 

 

 

When the “old folks” retired too early they stayed up playing cards.

 

Feeling that the backwoods seclusion of the cabin might eventually become a bit too “quiet” for the kids, we finished off the week with a drive up to the Great Smokie Mountains National Park and a trip to the Atlanta Aquarium.

 

 

 

New Puppy

New Puppy

On the way up to the cabin this week, we stopped at the Ingles to get groceries. A guy had Lab puppies for sale and I fell in love with one, and we brought him home with us as a companion for our other Lab, Millie.

We named him Morgan and he made himself right at home at the cabin …….

exploring the woods …….

 

checking out the creek ……

 

and now he is digging a hole-to-China under the porch……

 

Building a Stone Walkway

Building a Stone Walkway

Last weekend Mike excavated a pathway, and this weekend we worked together to lay the stones. Now we have a pretty little stone walkway from the driveway to the cabin porch.

    

 

UPDATE: SUMMER 2011

Later we added pea rock over the sand to keep it from washing away. Now time has weathered it all to a more mellow, older look.

Millie Loves the Hearth

Millie Loves the Hearth

Though our Lab Millie spends most of her day at the cabin outside, she loves to warm up at the hearth. In the evenings, we bring her big fluffy bed out from its hiding place under our bed, and put it by the fire.

The hearth is the central feature of a log cabin. In the old days, life would pretty much have revolved around the hearth, and it still does for us in the winter. Even the sound of a crackling fire is somehow comforting.

It is the place where we gather, not only to warm our bodies, but also to warm our hearts.

 

Millie came in today so cold that she curled up right on the warm stones.

Snow (2010)

Snow (2010)

Yesterday it snowed! Here in the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains it does not snow very often, and when it does snow, it is an exciting occasion as it transforms our world into a fantasy vision.

Looking off the front porch, up the driveway towards the road, all was shades of white and grey with green pine boughs peeking through adding the only color.

Millie was not sure what to think of it all …..

                  

 

One of the great features of a log cabin is the natural insulation the huge thick logs provide, and that along with the thermo-paned windows, insures that it’s always cozy inside even on the coldest days. We keep a fire going in the hearth and supplement that with a little heat from the central-heating (we have never had to turn the thermostat up over 65°).

 

 

 

 

 

Today the sun came out casting beautiful shadows across the white blanket and making the ice crystals glisten..

High up on the ridge where the ice was thicker on the trees looked as though sparkling clouds were laid across the hills, and that contrasted with the vivid blue of the clear sky was magical.

 

 

 

 

Millie was, of course, ready to play Frisbee.

The Dulcimer

The Dulcimer

This Christmas, Mike surprised me with a Dulcimer he built.

It all started with a crazy Red Neck thing I bought in Bell Buckle, Tennessee while there on a trip last summer. They call it a a CanJo.

It is just a one-string fret board attached to a tin can with the string  running through the can. You tune it to something close to A, then strum with one hand while pressing the frets with your other hand.

That’s wild, huh? Well, I played around with it all summer, which sparked an idea in Mike’s head. He remembered reading in the Foxfire books about building Dulcimers. So he decided to build one.

 

It has an amazingly beautiful sound and I am so anxious to learn to play it. I can envision many happy hours of strummin’ and (as they say here in the mountains) sangin’ on the cabin porch.

Dang, if we aren’t gettin’ the hang of this mountain life …… and it fits us!

Christmas Time At the Cabin

Christmas Time At the Cabin

Christmas is a magical time, no matter where you are, but at the cabin we have time to think about the significance of it all.

I wonder how many Christmas times these old logs have seen and how the people who dwelt within them celebrated? Did they bring in a tree to decorate? Did they string popcorn and cranberries, bake gingerbread cookies,  and hang a pine bough wreath on the door?  Did they delight in sharing  little gifts with family and friends? Did they sing carols while savoring  the warmth of a roaring fire in the hearth?

 

 

 

 

We decided that a real tree was too much of a fire hazard in the small confines of the cabin. But I love the little artificial one, never-the-less. It seems to fit right in and I’m quite sure it considers itself to be as grand as any tree that ever lived. I can tell by the way it twinkles and the jaunty way it holds the ornaments,  even though its star is rusted tin.

 

 

Knowing the people of these mountains, I am sure that they treasured the season and celebrated the birth of the Savior. And like us, found great comfort and reassurance that the Christ Child came into the world to bring us “Peace and good will among men.”

I will lift up my eyes unto these mountains

I will lift up my eyes unto these mountains

I will lift up my eyes unto these mountains; from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.  The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.  The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

-Psalm 121

Family and friends alike have asked us, out of true concern, “Why do you want to isolate yourselves up there so far from town? Don’t you get bored?”

My answer is always the same. Spending a few days each week in the mountains always brings us a renewed spirit of peace.

The stress of day-to-day in the business world, the hassle of the Atlanta area traffic, even the tension that comes from constant bombardment of noise all around us (cars, telephones ringing, planes passing overhead, leaf blowers, even the tiny noises all add up). The constant worry about safety and health of family and friends is a strain. Today’s turbulent world and the situation our nation is in right now are heavy burdens.  Not that we would consider totally ignoring all of this as a solution.

One of the ways Mike and I cope with it all is our time at the cabin with no cell phone coverage, TV,  or Internet, surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest, listening to the “quiet” sounds, and focusing on all that is still good and remembering that with God’s Grace we WILL survive the rest of it.

 

Neighbors

Neighbors

One of the greatest blessings of life is to have good neighbors. Nearby there is a family who we think the world of.

To maintain privacy, we will just call them the P’s. There is always a friendly wave when we pass by, and as is customary among country neighbors, there is the exchange of jars of honey, for perhaps a few tomatoes, or ears of corn. I suppose in the days before grocery stores, this was essential bartering. Now it is a jester of neighborliness that says more than words.

There was the huge bucket of freshly picked beans, squash and tomatoes brought by the day we moved in. Right out of their garden, with the morning dew still glistening on the top; the gift said, “Welcome to the mountain,” as beautiful as any housewarming we have ever received.

Mr. P’s garden, though typical of so many others nearby, is to us “city folks”, a sight to behold. It brings back such wonderful memories of  my Grandfather’s garden and the times I spent summers at Mema and Papa’s farm.

There is something about a garden that is like a book that tells all about the family that plants and tends it. It has a beginning and end, each spring till frost. The way it is laid out speaks of the customs of one’s ancestors. The absence of weeds speaks of diligence and hard work. And how problems are met with resourcefulness speaks pages and pages about ingenuity and imagination. The day this past spring when we passed by and saw the dead crow hanging from a pole in Mr. P’s cornfield, I knew that was a story in itself.

There was the day one of their teen sons came by saying, “Mama sent these eggs to you.” The carton of fresh brown eggs were a real treat and once again reminded us how blessed we are to have good neighbors.

Wildflower Collection

Wildflower Collection

The variety of wildflowers just gets better and better. I am amazed and thrilled every time I spot something I have never seen before. Here are my photos of a few of those I found since my last “wildflower” posting ……..

Turk's Cap Lily

 

Mountain Mint

 

Black-eyed Susan

 

Fire Pink

 

Ox-eye Daisy

 

Flame Azalea

 

Sweet Shrub

 

Pale Yellow Jewelweed

 

Jewel Weed

 

Thistle

 

Horse Nettle

 

Virgin's Bower

 

Heal All

 

Rhododendron

 

Joe Pye Weed

 

Passion Flower