Cabins, Caves and Confederates

Okay, so I'm having a love affair with my little cabin. In fact, I'm so besotted I'm trying to find out everything I can about it. Thus far, my neighbors have been as helpful as they possibly can be...but they can't quite remember everything they've heard about the area and this house in particular.

But that doesn't stop me. The other week I learned my cabin may have been a cobbler's shop. I already knew my lane was once a main thoroughfare during the Civil War but this weekend I learned my little house might've been part of a small community called Shoat's Gap or Choate's Gap. And then my new neighbor, Margie, dropped the bomb.

"You know," she said. "I think there's a Confederate soldier buried on your property."

She said this just like you might say "You know, I think that's a lilac bush in your backyard."

My eyes widened and I thought, "I knew it! I knew there was something about this place!" But I said, "Where? Where is he buried?"

Margie shrugged. "I don't know but there's lots of books written about the area. There's a cave on the top ridge of your property, I think that's where it is, and there used to be a cave there. That's where the Confederate soldiers hid."

She could see my interest piquing and added "And bears. There's lots of bears up there too."

I also learned that if I'm ever riding in the hills and I come across moonshiners, I'm to nod, look away and ride on. No problem...other than I'm so curious I'd love to stop and learn all about it!

As soon as I got back to town, I started searching the internet for information and quickly found out that my area is chock full of stories of caves and Confederates, moonshiners and revenuers.

I read or listened to accounts until my eyes hurt and my brain has, of course, managed to mangle everything I've gleaned into a stew of facts and legend- but it's absolutely fascinating.

I seriously doubt Franklin County's ready for this much enthusiasm from a newcomer- otherwise I'd be running down the street of Ferrum yelling "Hey everybody, I'm here! Now- tell me everything and don't spare the details! Which one of you guys has the closest still to my place?"

Oh, yeah...that'd get me run out of town on a rail real fast.

So, I'll just keep on reading my internet accounts and try not to ask too many questions of mysterious strangers I meet in the woods...that is, until they come to realize I'm quite harmless and terribly gullible.


By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Four days in a tiny mountain cabin with teenagers...

I thought they would be bored. After all, this is my "get away" cabin...away from T.V, the Internet, video games and even phones. I figured I'd better have a list of activities of all types to keep them occupied, to keep the techno withdrawal from becoming so painful it sent them screaming back to Greensboro post haste.

To complicate matters...It rained...A constant gentle summer rain that made outdoor activities impossible for 2 of the scheduled 3 days.

They wound up staying four days.

Apparently the novelty of the simple, country life so enthralled them, it made computers and TVs seem mundane and...perhaps even a little boring.

We played cards and board games. We tromped through the woods. We looked for bear and found deer. The Guinea hens next door screeched like the hinges on squeaky screen doors. And then, on the last day there was a run-in with a huge cotton mouth.

But it was the beautiful yellow lab, Shannon, who charmed them most of all. She played fetch endlessly, followed them everywhere and best of all, displayed none of the annoying, yappy habits of the little dogs back home. And no one had to worry about taking care of Shannon- letting her in, letting her out, making sure she'd been fed and had water- because Shannon belongs to Joe, the cabin's former owner.

The kids were as enamored of Joe as they were of Shannon. Joe was pronounced "so knowledgeable and about everything too!" I think they thought he was even better than their current hero, Bear Grills, on "Man Versus Wild."

We had nightly bonfires with popcorn and s'mores...One night there were even roasted potato chunks and onions buried in the coals for late night munching.

Fresh wildflowers in colorful cans sat out on the big picnic table. We drank fresh lemonade and iced tea out of quart-sized jelly jars. There were big country breakfasts, fresh vegetables with dinner, barbecued ribs and chicken...It was slow, easy living at its very finest.

All in all I would have to say it was a big success.


Holding My Breath...

I didn't want to say anything until I closed on it...bad luck, karma, the fear that someplace this wonderful would somehow evaporate if I talked about it before it was truly mine...But as of last Tuesday, this sweet little cottage is really mine.

It is as true as the wish I made for it...A tiny, pre-Civil War cabin set in the foothills of South Central Virginia, down a long and winding gravel lane that follows a meandering creek, surrounded by low-lying mountains.

I could not have asked for a better haven, could not have imagined any place this idyllic or peaceful.

And I found it by accident...sort of...

After months of looking online on realtor.com and on various realtors websites, I tried Cragislist.org. One paragraph written by the cabin's owner, 3 pictures to prove his point and I was hooked.

Mertis came to see it and she was so besotted, she bought the mountain (okay, big hill) across the lane!

Marti's thinking about building something here, too.

In fact, I could see a few of my women friends building little cabins in the woods- it would keep us all sane in our old age. What better than to have a little space to call your own where everything goes just the way you want it to...You don't have to cook supper if you don't want to, you don't do anybody else's laundry, you don't hear the blare of the TV or get sucked into the vast chasm that is the internet (oh, like it's just me wasting hours of my life looking up useless tidbits of fascinating information?)

There is no E-bay here. No mall. Hell, there isn't even a place nearby to buy a mop (Lord knows I tried!)

Instead there are more stars in the sky than I thought possible- so many they look like snowflakes and whispy clouds instead of the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt. I sat outside on a tractor last night, drinking beer and staring up at the sky, wishing my Dad who knew the name of each and every single constellation could be there with me.

And then I realized of course, he is.