Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking past the trees...

I reckon it eventually happens to all of us.  You know... getting in the middle of a project, and no matter how convinced you are that you have everything you need to complete it, you suddenly find that you're short one item. 

Normally I would just wait until the next time I'm going to town and pick up the blasted thing then.  But since I was already smack dab in the middle I figured I'd better load up and make a trip to the hardware store.  For many folks, the trip would be no big deal... jump in the vehicle and head around the block.  Well, for me it's a little more intensive. 

I  had two choices once I was behind the wheel.  I could drive 20+ miles to the larger town of 13,000 people and fight the traffic... or I could drive the same distance to the smaller town of 494 folks.  Now many would think that the bigger place would offer a better selection, but I happen to know that in the littler (yes, that's a word in my personal dictionary) town that the grocery/hardware/lumber store has pretty much anything that a person could want... and more.

So grumbling as I drove out of our gate and the next mile and a half of dirt road, I turned on to the pavement and headed toward the smaller of the two.  As I went only a short distance I noticed how crystal clear the sky was and such a deep blue.  The sun was shining with that glow that we only see in the winter.  Looking off to my left I saw that there was no haze across the mountaintops and down through the valleys.  Rock bluffs jumped out in stark contrast in the distance, lit up by the sunlight. 

I took a deep breath... then smiled.  I was reminded of why we had moved to this area in the first place... the beauty is awesome in all seasons.  The drive carried me on for the next 45 minutes along the winding roads.  Around each turn I saw one thing after another that made me smile even more... turkeys in one field, a cabin nestled far down in the valley that goes unseen all other times of the years and hidden by foliage, and the couple of vehicles that I passed during the entire trip were occupied by people smiling like me and waving back.  After buying what I needed and heading back... once again being awed by the scenery around me... I returned to my project and finished it up with a lighter heart than when I began. 

Some people might look at this as a wasted trip that a little pre-planning on my part would have prevented.  You're correct... I should have prepared a bit better.

But a wasted trip?  No, it wasn't wasted.  It was a free mood enhancer that was 100% organic and good for me.  In fact, the effects have carried over to this morning... 'cause I'm still grinning.

So from here on the mountain, I wish you a Happy New Year, and that you have time to look past the trees to live country.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas on the Mountain

The gifts have been opened and the oven is going non-stop.  The air is filled with smells of ham, cinnamon and spruce.  It is Christmas Day on the mountain.

And from our family to yours, we want to wish you a beautiful Christmas filled with the ones you love and a glorious New Year.  No matter if you live in a crowded urban area or deep in the rural backroads, may you find joy and seek out ways to live country.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Let it snow... let it snow... nooooooo!

Yes, I'm aware that it's December.  I'm also cognizant of the fact that some folks have been buried in much deeper snow for some time now.  Which makes me pretty certain that those same persons will have little sympathy for me concerning the snow that arrived last week here on the mountain. 

It all started with the weather man hinting that we might possibly see some flakes of the white stuff.  Of course that resulted in me sending the poor fellow evil thoughts and wishes that all those flakes land in his boots rather than in my yard.

I remember a time long long ago when I was excited to see the merest sign of snow, for it meant time out of school and days spent playing in the pitiful excuse of southern snow that usually wasn't deep enough to even cover the shortest grass.  That was, of course, the days before I became an adult and had to work outside in ice storms or other bitterly cold weather.  After that, snow days lost their appeal... meaning only frozen toes and nose and everything else attached.

Anyway... back to the weather man and the curses placed on him.  They didn't work.  Right on cue it started... and boy, did it start.  I slogged my way to the mailbox, muttering unmentionable things about the forecaster, notwithstanding that he truly had no control over it.  Looking back toward the house from the front gate, I was met with this sight...

Now yes... I'll admit that it looks quiet and peaceful.  It was.  And yes, it's pretty.  Ok, so maybe it's not all bad.   But I still didn't tarry getting back to the house because it was also cold; which is reasonable considering it is snow.

Before you think I'm the only one on the mountain that is a winter wimp... this is the greeting that I received when I got back to the porch...

The little one was soon distracted with playing with her siblings and I completed outside chores.  Once inside, it would take an explosion to get me back out in the white stuff... at least until it was time to do chores again.

So how to spend my time indoors... hmm.  Well, it is close to the holidays; and I do have the ingredients for some of my recipes.  I also have a jar of juice in the icebox that needs turning into jelly.  It sounds all very creative and is at least warm, and in short order I had everything in the kitchen dirtied up.  The stove heated the house and gave the furnace a rest.

And just like magic, before long I had a table of offerings.  Dark chocolate fudge... tender, flaky shortbread cookies... and jars of sparkling elderberry jelly.  I had even worked in time to sing and dance (praise be that there were no witnesses to either) to Christmas tunes while pulling cookies out of the oven.  I'm not sure how impressed Chubby Checker would have been to my rendition of the "Twist" while singing "Run Run Rudolph", but I was warm, happy and able to prepare items of love for family and friends. 

So though the snow has melted here on the mountain now, the image of the soft flakes and the joy of the season brightens the heart and lifts the spirits.  And sharing that joy is part of what it is to live country.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yep... It's that time again.

You know what time I mean.  That time of the year where folks roll around in the floor over items that are most likely broken by the time they get through scrapping over them.  The time of year when despite the questionable economy, plastic is flashing around like there ain't no tomorrow, and the bills will still be in the process of being paid off five years from now.  When shouting matches get started over "stolen" parking places, and you may get pepper-sprayed while waiting in line for a video game.

Whoa!  Wait... what?  Isn't this supposed to be the season of good cheer?  Of brotherly love?  Of caring about others more than yourself?  Does that not exist anymore?

I see all these things on the news... people shooting at people and spraying them.  Punching others in the face for a $5 waffle maker.  What in the dickens is wrong with folks?  Is the world going to halt if you don't get that cotton-picking waffle maker?  For goodness sakes... make pancakes instead of waffles if you've just got that much of a hankering for something with syrup on it!

Now me... come about mid-November, I make myself scarce in town.  I get what I need for groceries about twice a month, and then get the heck out of there.  Any Christmas shopping left to be done can be done at most places via Internet; even most of the smaller mom-and-pop places have websites now.  That means while others are wrestling over the last whoop-te-do CD, I can wait for the friendly delivery driver to pull up here on the mountain and bring me mine.  Even most places have free shipping this year... so what could be better?

Some people might snub at the thought of buying on the computer rather than getting in there toe-to-toe and head-to-head with the rest of the teeming masses.  Me... well, the way I figure it... I have better things to do than bust my knuckles on somebody's head because they just yanked my favorite whassit out of my hands. 

But just to finish off with a spirit-lifter... not all in the world is chaos and disharmony.  Here on the mountain, folks still know how to treat each other.  My neighbor stopped by my work yesterday to drop off a jug of elderberry juice so I can make some jelly.  In turn, I dropped some boxes off at her house later so she can mail gifts.  We've got plans to dig up some elderberry sprouts around her place to transplant at mine... and I made her copies of a bunch of jelly recipes that she'd like to try.  And so it revolves.

Now is that so hard?  Being nice is a whole lot easier than being nasty... and don't hurt as much cause somebody pops you in the mouth.  Nope, here on the mountain we treat each other like family... and that's what living country is all about.

Until next time... cook pancakes. ;)