Friday, November 28, 2014


Ursula is the Queen of all she Surveys
YESTERDAY WE TOOK A SUNDAY DRIVE—ALL THE WAY TO VIRGINIA. We picked up Ellis early early in the morning. Our youngest slipped out of his house and into the car. Ursula lay quiet in the way back, her tail thumping when she saw her boy descend his front steps, carrying his bags to the car. We drove across the flatlands of Illinois and Indiana and on to the hills of Ohio. We turned south at Dayton and continued on to the mountains. If only we'd left earlier, we would have seen some lovely scenery. But the sun set on us and we drove through a dark rain up and down winding roads. I learned how to use the braking gear. At home I forget that it's even there, but it came in handy as I was driving down the mountain roads. The fog descended and we made it to the last little town before our road home to visit Michael's folks. My in-laws live in a cozy hunting lodge on a mountain, and that last road was treacherous in the dark and the wet, but we made it.

A Clear Blue Day

This morning I woke to a clear blue day, but the wind blew in some weather from Charlotte and we were treated to changing skies, but finally settling on a clear sunny day with an occasional breeze. The whole family piled into two or three cars and drove into Floyd, where we walked up and down the main drag, going into the artful shops to look around and soak up the mountain culture. In the hardware store we found some lovely cutting boards, strips of warm wood making rosy stripes. The knitting store was unfortunately closed, but we will try again on Friday, when we go to the Friday Night Jamboree at the General Store. They have a cute lunch counter and barrels of old fashioned candy, and lots of kitchen gadgets. Last time I visited I came home with a pie bird. Now my covered pies are vented with a ceramic blackbird, reminiscent of the nursery rhyme.
Candy at the Country Store
 On Fridays they have live music with clogging and country dancing. I can't wait to go back in a few days to see the show.
We came home to walk around the mountain and see what projects Babs and Jack have worked on over the past year, building projects and landscaping projects and excavation projects involving a little backhoe that has Michael drooling. We walked up a path and found the stone chimney—all that is left from a long ago homestead. A tall chimney rises several yards in the air, a rustic arch frames the firebox below. A hearth of tan-colored stones sticks out in front. I got to hear again the story of how Michael's family spent the afternoon clearing away brush and ash from the old fireplace, building a patio of flat stones carted up from the stream below. When they finally finished they built a fire and no sooner did the smoke rise up the chimney, but the poor snakes who lived there decided to flee. Everyone was lined up for a picture with their backs to the fireplace, and the designated photographer cried in alarm. Everyone turned around to see a large family of snakes slithering from all the cracks and chinks of the chimney. To hear it told, the snakes were as big around as my wrist and taller than me, but there were baby snakes too.

Ellis in the 7 Sisters

The stone patio was covered with a layer of leaves and Ellis grabbed a stick and used it to rake the leaves off of the patio. We all joined in, and Michael's sister, Kelly found some logs and tossed them into the fireplace. We are all ready for our woodland picnic.

Ursula Climbs the Mountain

We followed the trail down to the stream and meandered with the rushing water back up to the house. Ellis throws a stick into the stream and Ursula dives in after it, her legs paddling. She grabs the stick and scrambles back up the bank. They do this over and over again, as if there were nothing else important in the world, and I guess there isn't. The sun sets early in the mountains in November, and we are gathered in the warm kitchen. I sit a little off to the side, typing into my little computer. I look over at my family, gathered around a came of cards. Danielle is beating her uncle Mikey, and several conversations are tossed around the table. I'm thankful for my mountain family.
Climb in Beauty; Rise in Peace; Blessed Be.