Enjoying life's adventures in a secluded mountain cabin

Posts tagged ‘summer’

The Sound of Silence

Fall is imminent up here at the cabin.  The days are getting shorter, the air is crisp and cool instead of sticky and hot, and the bugs have fell silent.  The God-awful dreaded bugs of summer.  They’re dwindling away and the nights have become silent again.  Walking outside a month ago was, at times, a shock to the ears with all the katydids singing their majestic songs of summer.  I happen to love that sound, while some others in my house loathe it.  Hearing those little green bugs makes me happy and lulls me to sleep in the summer.   It’s one of my favorite things about the hot months of the year.

But, alas, I’ve noticed for the past few evenings that the katydids have quieted down.  There are no more glorious songs coming from the trees around the cabin.  There’s still the occasional cricket and maybe a frog or two off in the distance, but for the most part, it’s become very silent up here on the mountain.

Don’t get me wrong.  Silence is good, too.  Silence means that pretty soon the leaves will begin their metamorphosis into a brilliantly, magnificent, colorful work of art that surrounds and envelopes the cabin on all four sides.  The heavens will keep getting clearer and clearer with every passing day.  They’ll be filled with those wonderfully white clouds that pop against the background of the vivid blue sky.  The flowers of fall will be glorious in their rich colors.  Afternoons will be spent gathering the last of the summer’s bounty from the garden in preparation for the long winter ahead.  And it’ll be time, once again, for comfy, cozy, warm jammies and socks, curled up with blankets and loved ones in front of the fireplace.

Yes, the sound of silence is a good thing.

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And The Thunder Rolls…

On this summer day, I’m sitting here in the cabin, completely alone, listening to a storm moving in.  Oh, and my poor, pitiful washer that’s in desperate need of some attention from Mountain Man.  I swear, that man can fix anything.

Anyway, I’m looking outside at the expanse of trees that reside just off the deck and on the knoll down below and as usual, I’m stricken breathless by their majesty and beauty.

Well, here.  Let me just give you a tiny glimpse of what I’m talking about.

This is the view right off the back deck. I can touch the leaves you see in the foreground of the picture! Breathtaking, isn't it?

And believe me y’all.  A picture simply cannot do this justice.  So many details just get lost, no matter how hard I try to capture each and every one of ’em.  This is all around the east and south side of the cabin.  I can touch some of the trees and most of the leaves from the deck out back because the cabin was built around them.  They kinda hug the cabin in a way.  It’s a sight to behold for sure.

Not too long from now, all those green leaves will give way to their fall colors.  Shades of yellows, oranges, reds, and browns will appear and surround me with the warm colors of autumn.

This Mountain Girl cannot wait!

As for right now, in this moment suspended in time, I’ll sit right here, alone, in the silence and comfort of The Treetop Cabin, and continue to listen to the thunder roll off in the distance and feel the breeze as it comes in ahead of the storms that are forecast for our area this afternoon.

It’s times like these that I remember that I really hate being alone.

Fall Is In The Air

 

It’s only the middle of August here in the Western North Carolina mountains, which would normally mean that the last of summer’s heat would be lingering and all of us without central heat and air would be praying for a break in what I like to lovingly refer to as the sweat sessions.  Well, not this year.  It’s felt like Fall here on the mountain all weekend long.  Especially yesterday.  Beautiful blue skies with big ‘ol white puffy clouds drifting lazily by.  No humidity to speak of, only the slightest bit of warmth from the midday sun on our faces as we split wood in preparation for Old Man Winter.

It was a glorious day here at the cabin.  After splitting and stacking wood, Mountain Man and I canned some more veggies from our garden and made some more grape jelly.  All in all, we had a very productive Sunday afternoon.

I just feel so blessed to be where I am in this world.

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!!!

Fresh Veggies

Honestly, is there anything better than garden fresh veggies?  And I’m not talking about going to your local produce stand here y’all.  I’m talking about walking less than thirty feet out my front door to pick the most delectable, absolutely life-alteringly good tomatoes in the world!  Mountain Man would argue that the best tomatoes come from Illinois, and granted, they are pretty dang tasty.  But our blood, sweat, and tears have went into these tomatoes and the other veggies growing out there, so they’re pretty darn awesome, to me!

 

 

Our cucumbers, radishes, and green onions have been pretty good, too.  After what seems like endless weeks of patiently waiting, watering, feeding, and spraying with soapy water to keep the bugs at bay, it appears that the cucumbers are quadrupling daily!  We’re planning to make pickles so this is most definitely a good thing.

And the tomato plants!  Aaahhh!  They’re gorgeous!!!  We were a little worried about them at first.  They didn’t really appear to be doing all that well for the longest time, but then they suddenly started to flourish overnight, it seemed.  Now, we’ve got some really big plants and one in particular is just hanging with big, juicy, green tomatoes, just waiting to ripen up in the hot sun.  We’ve already eaten a few of them and they were really delicious.  Now, our little grape tomatoes are starting to come in and they, too, are just scrumptious!

 

 

I’m afraid though, that once everything starts coming in, we’re gonna be bombarded with tomatoes and cucumbers all at once.  Since we’re gonna be canning most of our crop, this will actually be a good thing.  I think…

Where Has This Year Gone?

Today is August 1st and I feel as if I’ve lost a couple of months in 2011.  How in the world could it already be August?  How can we already be planning which school supplies to buy?  It was just last week that the kids finally got outta school!  Wasn’t it?  We’ve only made it to the pool a few times this summer and we’ve only been camping a handful of times!  Aaaarrrggghhh!

I know in the past, summers have been absolutely nerve-wracking when I was staying at home with kids, but this summer has just went by waaaaaay too fast!  I haven’t gotten to do even half the things on my to do list!  I feel like I’ve been robbed of time by some unseen force in the universe!

In one week and one day, I’ll be sending kids back out into the world of backpacks, pencils, paper, tests, school buses, best buddies, new teachers, PE, and all other things associated with school.

It’s kinda bittersweet.  I had such big plans for this summer.

Oh well.  I guess all in all, it wasn’t too bad.  We got to do some really fun stuff.  We got to see old friends and spend time with family that lives waaaay too far away.  And we got to spend a lot of time together and enjoy one another, with only a few meltdowns along the way.  Not too bad for a summer break up here at the cabin.  The kids and I fared pretty well up here in the woods and on the days when Mountain Man got to stay home with us, it made it even better!

So, I guess we’ll do our back to school shopping and start getting everything ready this week.  And come next Tuesday morning when I send my teenager back to middle school and the little one back to grade school, I’ll only be sad for a minute or two and I’ll allow myself one tear.  Just one.

‘Cause then I’ll have the house to myself again for a few hours everyday!!!  WooHoo!!!

 

 

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!

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