At the Cabin

Snow is in the forecast for the mountains and foothills. In Bland, Virginia the accumulation could be significant, not so much for the North Carolina foothills. A short day at work has freed enough time to ride up I-77 and check out the cabin.

The last snowfall was too deep and the drifts too high to be able to get to the top of the hill where our little cabin waits patiently for us. Today is different. Snow still covers much of the north side and all of the shaded areas. The ponds are still frozen. But the majority of snow has melted away and the roads are clear.

The sky is thick with soft gray clouds, broken by slices of pale blue, the air is cold and moist. As the sun burns through the moisture, a rainbow is formed, dashing in and out of the clouds.

Our cabin is fine, but the driveway is a mess. Rutted and washed, we have to use the four wheel drive function to ease the tahoe up the incline. The elevation can vary as much as two hundred feet from the alfalfa bottoms on our property to the crest of the three hundred and sixty degree view that is the cabin’s perch.

A red tailed hawk flies over us as we drive in. He often heralds our arrival or departure. We expect to see grouse but aren’t that fortunate today. The bears put themselves to bed some time ago. We won’t see them until spring.

Broken shards of black walnut shells rest in piles at the base of the giant old tree that bears much fruit. I love the tangy sharpness unique to black walnuts, if only they weren’t so impossibly hard for humans to crack, leaving darkly stained hands behind. We save them for the fox squirrels, enormous gray creatures that make me think of Land Of the Lost. They seem prehistoric to me.

We have black cherry, ancient apple, peach, pear, and persimmon trees here in this little strip of orchard. Red currant shrubs accompany them. Chestnuts were plentiful here until the early nineteen hundreds. An old farmhouse, made entirely from chestnut still stands on the property. We have had offers for the wood and one interested party had it authenticated and dated through NC State University, verifying that it is over a century old. In the end we couldn’t part with it and have decided to restore it. But that’s a project for a warmer season. I’m sure it will be mother’s milk for this blog, feeding my thoughts as we curse and hammer and stand in awe of the solidity of this old structure. The spring the people who lived here used for water and to keep foods cool is down a steep hill through a pine forest. I can’t imagine carrying full pails up and down the slippery slope. We won’t be restoring the spring, however ponding up a section would make a great fish pond and wildlife watering hole.

We can’t spend the night, so we prepare dinner and head back off the mountain. It disappears as we turn the curve in the forest down the private drive. We plan to come back over the weekend so you’ll hear more about this place if all works out!

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