Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Walking Smith Farm

This evening Maggie and I walked around Smith Farm. She hadn’t been for a run for several days and needed to bound over logs and tear through the underbrush. With the hay cut, I can walk the fields and not have to wonder how many ticks and chiggers are hitching a ride on me.

At the cabin, I walked beside the woods down the hill to where the spring was. When I was a kid following my grandmother on one of her trips down to get water, I thought I was walking a mile. In reality, it’s about 600 feet to the spring—downhill with an empty bucket and uphill with a full bucket. How many times a day did my grandmother do this?

The cow was kept in the bottom, too. A fence and chain kept her from fouling the spring. Granny Sallie, my paternal grandmother, would have to carry milk twice a day, too.

The spring is the puddle at the lower right. The cabin is at the center.
I took this photo on April 9. Now the trees have leafed out so much you can't see through the woods.


I didn’t go all the way to the spring but walked instead along the edge of the field near the creek. The bank was so full of ferns I wished I’d brought my camera. Maggie kept splashing into the creek, running back to me, and splashing again. There’s a lot of joy in a border collie.

At the bottom corner of the field, we cut into the woods and walked up to the old graveyard. It struck me that my grandmother—and thousands of other farm wives of her time—did not have the freedom I have. They had to keep the fire going, the pots on the stove, the food cooking in the pots. Their duties kept them close.

If they had small children, how did they manage to get water and to milk and to tend their gardens? How could they carry both babies and buckets? My Aunt Belva once told me about how she’d leave my cousin Dixie in her crib with a catalogue to tear pages from while Belva slipped out to the spring. What did other women do? What did my grandmother do?

They couldn’t go gamboling through the woods, that’s sure. Too much risk of snakebite, ticks, and chiggers. Too much risk of a rabid dog or fox. Too much risk of falling, and who would know where to find them? Too much risk of a stranger coming. Too much risk of the fire getting out of control or the fire going out. Best stay close to home.

Plus their long skirts would have hindered them. I wear jeans on my woods-walking. My truck is parked close. I have a phone. I think I’m in the country, but in reality I’m a tenth of a mile to a heavily traveled road that leads to the lake. From the old graveyard on the hill where William and Gillie Ann Bernard—the first inhabitants of the cabin—are buried, I could hear the traffic noise.

The country my grandmother knew really isn’t country anymore.

1 Comments:

Blogger House on the Glade Hill said...

If you have not read Gap Creek by Robert Morgan, then check it out.

It is a fairly "easy read", but speaks of the trials and troubles of living in the country along the mountains. I finished it within a day and wanted to go immediately outside to chop and organize wood, make homemade biscuits and fried chicken, and even yearned for a horse or two (to ride instead of the reliable mini-van).

Then I woke up and realized that I was still in good ole 2000 and 7. Thanks for the reminders of our industrial and technological progression through the ages.

Amy

5:25 PM  

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