Enjoying life's adventures in a secluded mountain cabin

Posts tagged ‘heat wave’

Cold Feet

Have you ever had cold feet?  And no, I’m not referring to that feeling of dread and impending doom one gets when one is about to either a) walk down the aisle to one’s future husband, or b) wait at the end of the aisle for one’s future wife.  I’m talking about actual cold feet.  And not just your average oh, my feet are cold, so I’ll got put some socks on cold feet.  I’m talking about the oh, my feet are cold so I’ll go put some wool socks on, along with some wool lined slippers, prop them up in front of the fireplace and pray for my toes to thaw out kind of cold feet.

Well, for whatever reason, I’ve experienced this more often than not in the past few weeks.  Maybe I’m getting old.  Maybe my circulatory system is failing me.  Maybe I have a weird brain tumor that makes me think my feet are cold, but in reality, they’re just as warm as the rest of me.  Or maybe, it’s just been really cold and my feet, along with my hands, are two of the last parts of my body to get warm.

It was bitterly, bitterly cold this past weekend and the first part of this week.  Single digit temps with cold, howling winds and snow.  Not the two or three feet of snow that we had last year, this storm only brought about three inches with it.  But, the biting cold set in for a few days and it felt like it was never gonna warm back up.  Waking up to 30 degrees a couple of mornings ago felt like a heat wave!

My feet have finally thawed out and I’ve ruled out problems with my circulatory system, or any strange brain tumors that might be impeding my ability to accurately gauge body temperatures, or that pesky idea that I might be getting old.  After a high of 22 on Monday, it’s supposed to get up to almost 60 today!  You gotta love living in the North Carolina mountains.

 

Carrying On An Old Family Tradition

I grew up not too far from where we live now.  In the next county over, as a matter of fact.  And like most people ’round here, my grandparents were close by.  They didn’t live next door like a lot of my friend’s grandparents did, but they were only a short drive away and we were there most every single day of my life for as long as I can remember.  Most of my childhood memories involve Granny and Paw in some form or fashion and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of those memories that’s been replaying in my head over the past couple of months involves helping Paw in the garden and then, later on in the summer, sitting on the porch with Granny and my Mama, either breaking or shelling beans to be canned.  Even though I absolutely loathed this task as a child, I sure do miss those hot afternoons spent listening to Granny and Mama gossiping back and forth while we all messed with those beans ’till our fingers were raw and in bandages.

As a young child, I never really understood the value in all that painstaking, backbreaking work in the garden and then later in the sweltering hot kitchen.  I didn’t understand why on earth they didn’t just buy their food at the grocery store like “normal” people.  Didn’t they have anything better to do than work their fingers to the bone?  Literally, to the bone at times, I might add!  Weren’t they absolutely exhausted after working 8 hours on their jobs?  Didn’t they just wanna come home, relax and unwind, like “normal” people?  Wouldn’t they rather spend their weekends doing anything other than planting, weeding, watering, weeding, feeding, weeding, harvesting, breaking, shelling, shucking, peeling, cooking, canning, and freezing?

Whew…  Just typing that was exhausting!

Now… Fast forward about 25 years or so, and here I am, living a very similar kind of life.  On a much smaller scale, of course.  We don’t have the space for a huge garden like Granny and Paw had.  Our garden may not be huge, but it keeps us busy enough, that’s for sure.  Living on the side of a mountain, we didn’t exactly have the luxury of just plowing up a little plot to make us a garden.  Mountain Man and I literally built our garden!  We have a raised bed garden that required dirt to be moved from one area to fill it in.  And let me just tell ya, that was no easy task.

Then of course came the task of sectioning off different areas for different things, the planting, the watering, the weeding, the feeding, more weeding, more watering, and so on, and so forth.  You get the picture.  But, you know what?  I’ve gotten more enjoyment and fulfillment out of this garden than I ever thought possible.  Mountain Man and I walk out there every afternoon to tend to our creation and take care of any weeds or bugs that might be threatening our harvest.  We fight off the little flying winged devils that threaten to carry us off every time we set foot outside and we withstand this scorching heat that’s taken over here in the mountains.  And we love every minute of it.

We’ve now started to see some of the fruits of our labor and with each delectable bite, I’m starting to see why Granny and Paw always insisted on growing their own vegetables instead of just settling for whatever the grocery stores might be offering.  And what good would a garden be for people like Mountain Man and myself if we weren’t going to try to preserve some of this wonderful goodness to enjoy when Old Man Winter decides to show up?

So, along with the gardening, we’ve also ventured down the path of canning and preserving our harvest.  Neither one of us has ever canned anything before, even though my childhood is rich with memories of this process and his parents can food every year.  As you can imagine, this has been an interesting endeavor to say the least.  We’ve studied up on the subject, perused the internet, bought a book, bought all the necessary equipment, bought, picked and harvested all the necessary ingredients needed, and set out on our task.

We both made phone calls to our families for extra tips and helpful hints.  I called Granny, of course, and he called his Mom and Dad.  And you know, with a little help from them, a few recipes, a little luck, and a wink and a nod from the canning gods, we managed to make it through our first canning session and we have many more planned for the very near future.

This latest adventure has given me a whole new appreciation for my grandparents and all the hard work they put into making sure we all had food for the winter.  Even though we never really would’ve gone hungry since we only lived about 15 minutes from the nearest grocery store!   All that hard work paid off when the first chill of fall set in and then later, with the biting cold of winter knocking on our door.  Eating those beans, tomatoes, pickles, corn, soups, sauces, jams and jellies that Granny had canned and we had helped her to prepare not only nourished our bodies, but they fed our souls as well.  Honestly, nothing you can buy in the grocery store will ever taste as good and be as soul satisfying as something you’ve poured your heart into.   And to think, it only took me a couple of decades for this little epiphany to occur and settle into my existence!

Up next:  Adventures In Canning!!!

I’m Trying… Really, I Am

We went blackberry picking again yesterday evening after Mountain Man got off work and the heat subsided a little.  And I do mean just a little.  It was still hot this morning when we got up at 6 am!  But anyway, we picked almost a gallon of big, ripe, juicy blackberries and we’ll be making jam this weekend for sure!

However, on our way back to the cabin with our baskets full of little, fat, juicy, black beauties, we ran across this little, skinny, black beauty lying in the middle of the road, soaking up what was left of the days heat from the rocks.  Funnily enough, I wasn’t stricken with the old familiar gut wrenching fear that usually overwhelms me suddenly when I see one of these slithering little darlings.  I was actually a little excited to happen upon him during our little excursion.

Mountain Man has been absolutely wonderful in trying to help me overcome my fear of snakes.  Whereas a lot of people would thoroughly take advantage of my somewhat crippling fear of serpents and attempt to scare me every single time the opportunity presented itself, he has been very supportive and patient with me and tried to help me warm up to these cold-blooded beasts.  He’s always very slow and very cautious with them when he finds them.  He doesn’t play with the poisonous ones.  At least not around me, he doesn’t!  But, he’ll pick them up and let them wrap their little tails around his hand or arm, depending on how long they are.  He’ll bring them over toward me slowly and then let me come the rest of the way.  I certainly don’t wanna get too close to them.  God forbid if one was to ever lunge at me!  I’d die right then and there!

But, my wonderful Mountain Man stands there, patiently holding the snake and lets me look at him and check out his beautiful designs.  All the while, I’m really just trying to work up the nerve to reach my hand over and touch his scaly, reptilian skin.  And Mountain Man knows this.  So he continues to wait patiently until I’m ready.  And he never, ever makes fun of me for being so scared of these lovely creatures.  He always tries to encourage me to make nice with our little friends here on the mountain.

So, finally, I work up the nerve and reach out and touch the little fella.  And ya know what?  It wasn’t so bad after all.  I’ve touched a couple in the past, but this time, I kinda went a little farther than my just barely letting the skin on the tip of my pointer finger graze across the animals body just in case he decided to eat me kinda touching.

I actually rubbed the snake, petted him, if you will, and felt his muscles move as he wiggled around in Mountain Man’s hands.  My God, how I love his hands!  But that’s another story for another time.

It was actually pretty amazing to feel the power in this little devil’s body and to marvel at just how unique these creatures are.  Perhaps one day, with Mountain Man’s help, my fear of snakes will completely dissipate and I’ll no longer cringe every time I think of the little darlings.  One can only hope.

*Oh yeah.  Before I forget…  These pictures were taken with my son’s cell phone so they’re not very good.  Sorry about the quality, but I just had to have some proof that I’d actually touched a snake!  I’ll try to do better next time!

My Brush With Death

Ya know, I really like living up here in the woods, on the side of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere.  Really, I do.  Some people think I’m nuts for living this far away from civilization, but they just don’t understand.  And it’s really not for everybody.  That being said, there is one thing that I must admit that I do not care for and this one thing is something that I’ve written about before but I feel compelled to write about it again.  So, I’m going to.

With all this gardening we’ve been doing up here at the cabin, I decided that I want to make some blackberry jelly.  So, Mountain Man, my son, and I went blackberry picking one afternoon last week.  It has been unusually hot for our neck of the woods here lately, so we decided to wait ’till the late afternoon to head out on the 4-wheelers in search of the deliciously sweet berries that grow wild in various parts of the mountain.

I was prepared for most anything.  Even though it was sweltering hot, I had on jeans and my pink, multicolored striped boots.  We had a basket for the berries.  We were off to a fairly slow start at first.  Most of the berries weren’t quite ripe enough for picking.  They were still kinda small and for the most part, they were that beautiful pinkish-red hue.  Some of them were still just tiny green balls beginning their journey toward the plump juicy blackberries they will later become.

We found a few good ripe ones here and there, but nothing really of considerable significance to help fill our basket.  Then, Mountain Man turned up a road that I’ve never been on in all my time here on the mountain.  Jackpot!  We hit the mother load of blackberry bushes!  These thorny branches were hanging full of plump, juicy blackberries!  Some of them were ripe for the picking, and some of them were bright red, just on the verge of turning.  But there were plenty to help fill our basket.

I had to take a phone call while we were picking, so I stepped away from Mountain Man and my son and was trying to listen intently to the person on the other end of the line when it happened.

I was innocently walking through the grass close to the edge of the bank where the guys were picking and he came outta nowhere!  He slithered right by my foot and off into the bushes growing right in front of me!  And he was a fast little devil, too!!!  All I saw was a little 13 or 14 inch grey serpent slithering swiftly to and fro in the grass, away from me, I might add!  And I almost peed my pants, screamed like a little school girl, and cussed a blue streak all in the same breath!  But I didn’t!  I was on the phone with someone who may or may not understand my slew of profanities at the thought of being eaten alive by a snake!

I did, however, let out a little shriek and let my caller know that she’d have to hold on for a minute while I composed myself after nearly meeting an untimely death at the hands of a creepy, slithery, snake.  She totally understood, having shared my deep-seeded fear of serpents.  After I took a few deep breaths, I was able to get a hold of myself and return to the conversation, but for the rest of the evening, I couldn’t help but shudder, somewhat violently, I might add, every single time I thought about how close I was to that snake.

I’ve said it before.  I don’t wish these little darlings any harm.  I don’t want to kill them.  I just want them to leave me alone.  Perhaps they could just give me a little warning of sorts before they pop outta nowhere.  That’d definitely be nice.

But, alas, I’ve moved into their territory so I’m just gonna have to get used to the slithering little devils popping out every once in a while.  Surely, I’ll eventually become desensitized to the dang things at some point!  One can only hope…

Heat Wave in the Mountains

Have you ever been so hot that you honest-to-God thought your skin was gonna melt right off your skeleton?  So hot, that you found it difficult to breathe and the effort it requires to lift your water bottle to your mouth only induces more profuse sweating in response to the oppressive heat?  So hot, that you were afraid to stand up because you had no idea just how wet your clothes might actually be from all that moisture that your body has expelled in an attempt to cool you off?  Welcome to the world of late afternoon baseball games on 90+ degree days, in the blistering sun, with no shade in sight for the players or the spectators, in the mountains!

I swear, I think lost 10lbs at my son’s baseball game yesterday and I wasn’t even trying to! All I was doing was sitting in my little chair watching the game.  I can’t even begin to imagine how hot all those boys were that were on the field!  Bless their little hearts.

I know that some people are more tolerant of the heat than others, but I think I just might be the biggest wimp around here when it comes to 90 something degree temps here in the mountains.  You see, I’m really not a big fan of sweating my butt off.  The only time I like it outside when it’s that hot, is when I’m in close proximity of a body of water that I can jump into, preferably head first, to cool off.  Heck, I’ll even settle for a spray bottle filled with icy cold water.  Just as long as there’s some way to bring my internal temperature down a few degrees when the mercury keeps rising outside.

Again, I’m a wimp.  I know.  🙂

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