2/11/2009

Cabin Life- Big Doins Up the Holler

My log cabin and it's forgotten little sister were built before the Civil War...In the intervening years, the original family remained in the holler, farming, raising cows, making 'shine.

The last of the family has gone and since I've owned the cabin, I've spent untold hours researching the first owners and wondering about how things must have been once.

I've wondered how the land looked all those years ago, found clues and strange things- like teapots attached to fence posts and old irons wired into trees.

It's all been a mystery.

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And then the neighbor and his brother, who grew up here and know everything there is to know about almost every mystery, volunteered to help.

One thing led to another and voila! Look!

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This morning they called to say, come look.

I couldn't go but Mert ran up to spend the day working and enjoying the buried treasures that were unearthed...like a handcrafted wagon rim.

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And a hand-carved paddle for stirring the clothes that sat in the wash pot over a low, smoky fire in the side yard...

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Around back a beautiful stone walkway was hidden for years beneath a thick cover of leaves and dirt. 

Inside the cabin, stuffed between two boards, was an old apron. Mert brought it back and I'm washing it as I write.

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Making changes like this may have felt right. My instincts may have whispered "Clear out that scrub.  Those boxwoods are dying off from the bottom up. Yank 'em out," but still I couldn't quite commit to actual change. Part of me wondered what Old Posey would've thought.  Would I be forever destroying an important part of the land's past?

I feel so connected to the holler, as if I've been entrusted with the care of a legacy that while not rich in traditional, historical value is nonetheless important. It is the story of a simple family's journey. My family may make a bit of a history in this place, but I am the curator of its past, too.

When Mert got back to town and reported overhearing a comment one of the brothers made, I realized I could relax a bit.

The two men were outside next to the Little Sister Cabin. James, the younger brother, sat perched on his big, red excavator, smoking a cigarette.  His older brother, Glen, leaned against the huge machine but both two brothers were staring up at the old home place chimney, now visible on the hillside.

James exhaled slowly, a stream of smoke that followed the arc of his disappearing cigarette.  "There now," he said, his voice a soft, deep murmur of satisfaction.  "Looks like it used to, huh?"

 

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I looked at the pictures Mert took and imagined the ghost of Maggie standing on the back porch, peering into the old mirror as she straightened her straw hat and ignored Posey honking the horn as he tried to hurry her along.

"Come on!" Posey'd yell.

She'd start off the porch and notice at the very last second, she'd forgotten to take off her apron.

Flustered, she'd cry, "Hold yer horses!"  She'd fumble with the strings knotted behind her back, wad the apron up and stuff it hurriedly behind the shelf just inside the back door.

"I'm coming!" she'd say as she ran awkwardly to the old Pontiac.

Maggie'd be happy, I think, to see order returning to her little corner of the holler. 

1 comment:

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Wow, that's wonderful. Are you going to live in the old house? I love it.

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