Given that this blog is public, even though I am currently sharing it on Facebook, I still like having my privacy. As I wrote earlier, I was stalked nearly twenty-one years ago. I still remember. So, out of respect for my sudden need to hide myself, I used stars/asterisks. Besides, they’re pretty.
About six or so years ago, Pat was searching the internet for land. One of his greatest dreams is to retire out in the middle of nowhere, someplace where he can fart, belch, or sneeze and no one is going to say “Excuse you” or “Bless you.” We have great neighbors…truly wonderful neighbors. But Pat wants a little more space than a third of an acre.
So, anyhow, six years ago, Pat searching internet for land. He found two plots, one twenty acres, the other a bit larger, smaller…can’t remember. I bet you can figure out which one we bought.
What I remember is telling him that he wanted the land this bad that he was to go out to West Virginia, scout out the land, take some pictures, and tell me what he thought. Sure enough, he and his brother, Tim, drive out six hours, hike up and down a mountain and a half, take a bunch of pictures (and even a movie or two), and then reported back to me.
I fell in love. Instantly and without hesitation, I was in love. With a mountain.
So we packed up the kids and drove six hours to the middle of nowhere West Virginia and walked up and down a mountain and a half, took a bunch of pictures, drove to Charleston where we introduced the children to the wonders of Cracker Barrel, and then talked.
And then decided. I actually really wanted the other property of unremembered acreage because of a really cool rock formation.
In the end, we chose the twenty acre site…which doesn’t have the original rock formation that I loved but has so many more wonderful rock formations and turtles (yup, we have turtles) and trees. Lots of trees.
The mountain re-created Pat’s and my relationship. It gave us something to work for, gave us a dream to construct together.
Since we have bought the property, we have gone back many, many times and camped at multiple locations. After the first trip, we didn’t camp at the top…getting up there was incredibly difficult, especially given the path is covered in a dense undergrowth and toppled trees. Since, we consistently camp at a halfway point that I personally call fern hill. I’ll give you a hint…it’s covered in ferns. I won’t tell Pat this nickname. He gets frustrated that I give everything a nickname. Personally, it helps me to give names to things; it distinguishes each landmark from the rest as opposed to…rock at halfway point which is totally different from Other rock at Halfway Point. With the proper inflection, I guess one can hear the capital letters.
C Mountain has given me freedom, independence, courage, and self-confidence. Because I go there with the kids (and not Pat) to camp, I have to be fully self-reliant. Initially, I was terrified…every breaking stick was some beer-belly hick hiking up the mountain to hurt me and the kids. Eventually, though, that fear lessened so that I could laugh at my paranoia and merely live without restraint or fear.
When we are at the mountain, the kids have absolute freedom. I have given them whistles so that if they see a bear, they are to blow on the whistle to make it go away. Yes, I think we have a bear that likes to live or hang out on the mountain…I’ve seen its droppings. Don’t make fun of me….
Anyhow, when the kids are at the mountain, they have complete independence. They are to take the dog with them and just have fun while being smart. I taught them that if they get lost, they are to point their feet downhill, turn right, and then walk until they get back to the campsite. If that doesn’t work, they are to point their feet downhill, go to the base of the mountain, turn right, walk to the car, and then hike back to the campsite.
On the mountain, life is absolute basic. Life is seen in the flames of the fire we use to heat up our meals or to keep warm. Life is in the owls calling in the trees over night. Life is in the stick the Girl uses to stir up the flames before pulling out her stick, singing “Happy Birthday” to herself, before blowing out “the candle.” Life is in a blossoming marshmallow. Life is in the mist rising from the valley, combing out its tangles through the pine trees.
Life is blissful indeed.
When I come back home and shower, the heady scent of woodsmoke rises from my skin and evaporates and, briefly, I mourn the return to reality. In my mind, I am back on C Mountain, at Castle Rock (even Pat calls it by this nickname) with the kids, watching the leaves pendulum and swing back and forth in time to a metronome only the Earth knows.
Someday, Pat and I will start building our home, hopefully on the top of the mountain at a rock that I have called Writer’s Rock because that is where I dream of having my future office where I can write and dream and write some more. It is where I will look out over the valley and watch the world spin through its seasons and live and love and live some more.