Beanery Online Literary Magazine

March 13, 2009

Moving to the (Laurel Ridge) Mountains

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

MOVING TO THE (LAUREL RIDGE) MOUNTAINS

Mustang Sally

     We did that a year ago. Moved to the mountains.  So here we are.   We drive into the driveway and sit for a moment, overwhelmed by the beauty of the sunlight filtering through the hemlocks and the roar of Pike Run as it tumbles down the mountain.  We have learned to say Don-e-GAL is where you get off the turnpike. We can now refer to LAY-trobe as the home of Rolling Rock beer. We lived near Wexford at that time, in charming Bradfordwoods, but would rush to the mountains to hike, bike, or ski.  We had been hanging out here since the 1980’s when we bought a trailer near Indian Head. The trailer looked as if it were being eaten by a house, with additions that looked about as graceful as a baby goat being swallowed by a crocodile. An architect friend thought he was being funny when he said that more than just cozy, it was like being inside a submarine. After a couple of years, when we got on staff at the Seven Springs Resort as part-timers. instructing in the ski school,  we decided that a condo at the Springs would be more suitable for our needs.
     The spouse had figured out how to work seven and one half days a week—five days as a photographer and arriving at the Springs in time to teach Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. Add it up: seven and one half days. That was pushing it, even for a workaholic.
     But, of course, it was all fun. Fun has always been a major goal. He wouldn ‘t have done it otherwise. After only three years at the ski school, they had figured out that I was terrified of all but the bunny slopes and so I, sort of, retired. I went back to Cross-Country ski competition, which was also lots of fun.  I started going to Lake Placid, New York; Craftsbury, Vermont; Zolfingen, Germany; Canmore, Canada. Wonderful snowy places. By this time we had sold the trailer/add-on to a covetous neighbor.  We moved up a bit, buying a condo at Seven Springs. Sadly for M’lov’s pro ski career, skiing on one leg in icy conditions at an instructors’ clinic finished destroying a knee that had suffered much. Now he too retired from instructing and returned to Cross-Country skiing, with a new, titanium knee.
     In the five years that we owned the condo, it had suffered two serious plumbing accidents requiring lawsuits and  total rehabilitation: carpets, ceilings, counters.   It was bad, so, as much as we loved, still love, the Springs and being right on the golf course, the condo was sold.
     Then I decided to take a year-and-a-half bicycle tour around the world. Eighteen months later I had returned from my expedition and we started looking for a new weekend place. By now we were both pretty much retired and the condo fees seemed like, gee, traveling as we do, it was either condo fees or a trip to Europe.
     The first place that the real estate agent showed us was a little wood cottage with a stone fireplace, on a tumbling creek with hemlocks, rhododendrons and a dead flying squirrel in the toilet. We pretended to look around but knew that the little cabin in the midst of native evergreens, with a bridge copied from a Monet painting, was the one for us. This was love at first sight. When we returned to check it out again, there was another dead squirrel in the toilet. We made a ridiculously low offer and it was instantly accepted.  Imagine that!
     So we still had enough cash to replace the aging roof and we contracted with Henry to fix it.  June 3, 1997, was such a memorable date. A beloved friend had died and we were at a funeral home in Dormont when there was such a horrendous noise that we rushed outside to see what it could be. It was scary outside, black and noisy, so we rushed back in again. Lying in bed later, in Bradfordwoods, we watched the eleven o’clock TV news that showed terrible tornado damage on the hill above the Dormont funeral home. The phone rang and our new neighbor at the mountain, Rock, said,
     “You have been hit.”
     Rock and Elaine had been huddling in their basement when that same tornado went roaring, tearing, and twisting up Laurel Ridge. Electric wires as well as tall trees went down on Rt. 31. A poor, bedraggled girl came to their door because her car was trapped in front of their house. She was there for a day. They had no electricity. She had just left when we arrived and found that we couldn’t even get into our driveway. The tornado had twisted three trees together and thrown them through the roof.
      It took a while to figure this out because of the perhaps two dozen sixty foot trees that were scattered, broken and uprooted, like a giant game of pick-up-sticks gone wild. And we had thought that being flooded out in a condo was a problem! At least we had Henry. Henry knew people with bulldozers and skidders and it took quite a while just to be able to get to the cabin without crawling through the mess of broken trees. We were more experienced with insurance after the condo’s insurance mess so there was some financial help. However, insurance doesn’t cover trees that are only cluttering up the area, so clearing out just the shattered trees alone did get a bit expensive.
     Then there was the new basement that replaced a crawl space. My fault.  I couldn’t imagine being in there without a basement during a tornado. If Rock and Elaine needed a basement to hide in, so do I. Then there was also the entirely new basement room, the new first floor room and the entirely new second floor. We went from two bedrooms to five bedrooms. Most of this was suggested by Henry, who did have such good ideas and didn’t mind spending the entire summer with us— not with two of his kids in college.
     M’luv and I learned how to slab up a stone veneer over the new concrete block basement and the new chimney, using some of the mountainside of native stone that was just lying around. We stained or linseed oiled every board that went into or on the outside of the building. Gee, it was fun. It really was. Henry and gang would rip off a board from the ceiling and seventy years of squirrel doo-doo would shower down. The squirrels had left, of course. However, there were, what seemed to me, anaconda-sized blacksnakes which had lived, forever so long, in the walls and roof, feasting on squirrel. The snakes were still there, with such an arrogant attitude. Just because they had been born there, as had their parents, and their parents’ parents, etc. was no reason to be so slow moving when prodded out or so quick to slither back when we weren’t alert They didn’t seem to mind the roof being dry with new wood and new shingles. No matter how much they were encouraged to leave they eventually had to be hacked to pieces, sometimes by Henry’s daughter, who was adept with a hoe.
     Everything was all but finished when the six-foot snake that had such a proprietary air showed up on the second floor. It still gives me nightmares, or night imaginings. Any slithery sound might be the return of the black serpent plague. The drip of rain on the roof can make me think that the squirrels have made it back into the house and may again show up in the toilet. They did seem to be toilet trained.

ADDITIONAL READING:

Writer’s calls for submissions, competitions & events March 1, 2009
Kathy Kelly, of Voices of Wilderness: On Peace

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

I BELIEVE GOD INVENTED DANCING

WHAT RIGHTS DO CATS HAVE, I ASK

PROTECTING PRIVACY OF PERSONAL DATA ON YOUR COMPUTER

HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ONLINE 

QUINTESSENCE

JUST ANOTHER WEEKEND IN PARADISE

THE SWEETNESS LASTS A LIFETIME!!! An Adoption Reunion Story

SHOULD INFORMATION ON AN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSER BE PUBLICIZED?

PONDERING THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION PORTAPOTTY PROBLEM

TURKISH TOILETS IN A DARJEELING (India) TRAIN STATION

SITE LINKS:

www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com/

www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com

www.barbarapurbaugh.com

www.pennwriters.com

ellenspain.com

http://ligonierliving.blogspot.com/

http://www.methodists-care.org/

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