29 November 2010

Carolina on my Mind: A Nostalgia

6:07 a.m. 

I woke up to a strange pang of nostalgia. I opened my eyes and found it was that perfect moment when the sun is just starting to rise and the first bird starts to sing. I love this time of morning. I love the way the first bit of light makes my room just start to glow so slightly. The whole room is painted a soft blue and as I take in the color I'm taken back to a place I haven't been in over 14 years; one I my heart suddenly, so early in the morning, aches for...enough for me to wake up, turn on my computer and write about it (which says a lot). 

I just didn't want to miss this moment. Why hadn't I thought of this place, remembered the way it felt, in so long? As I thought of how I had neglected these memories my heart sank and, emotional me started to tear up. I want to write every lovely memory down, for my sake, to remember one of the most difficult, yet lovely times of my life. Isn't it true that the most lovely times are often filled with difficulty? One of the many paradoxes in life. 

On May 22, 1996, my most precious grandpa passed away. Suddenly I miss him so much. I wish he was here to see all that is going on in my life. I wish I could know him as an adult and go to him for wisdom. Alas, he's gone to Jesus, and is  much better off for it. To offer help and support to my grandma, my family moved north to Leatherwood, North Carolina. I've seen many beautiful things on this planet, but I tell you that none are as beautiful to me as the Appalachian mountains and no home has ever been so homey as the one we joined in with my grandma in '96. Leatherwood was a community built high in the Carolina mountains. The cabin we lived in, built by my grandpa, had a big porch, a green tin roof, wonderful boulders covered in the most beautiful moss, a cozy fireplace, and the best food prepared by my grandma, THE most talented chef south of the Dixie line. 

This community in the mountains, 1 hour secluded from the rest of "society" had it all... a horse farm, streams to play in, rivers to inter-tube, trees to climb, berries to pick, hills to roll down, scenic overlooks, mischief to get in, and this mystical aura. Here, I had no problem believing in fairies. And when I go back, even at age 23, I STILL refuse to believe they are fake. (My favorite is the dogwood fairy...man I'd like to meet one...)

I just have so many wonderful memories there, that I intend to list here, for my own peace of mind, that I might never forget again that wonderful time in my life... 

I remember going to sleep and being terrified at the sound of the house settling...the creeks and cracks. But the way I felt at that magic moment, like this morning, when the sun just started to think about coming up...the way the light lit up the loft I slept in and the coolness in the air...that made everything ok. 

I remember the smell of coffee that my grandma made every morning, religiously. And how I would get up before anyone else to go down and be with her in the early morning hours as she sat sipping coffee and reading a good book on the sofa. 

I remember having "Grandma Nights" when my parents would go out and she would take us up the mountain to pick berries, let us drive back in her lap and stick out heads out the windows to look for deer. We would make home-made black berry cobbler and watch The Sound of Music. 

I remember playing dress up....something I did till an age MUCH older than I would like to admit. But again, what is a kid to do when she has an imaginary fairy land in her back yard and an imagination almost on par with Anne of Green Gables? You let it run wild!! Man I had fun running around in homemade costume. 

I remember my brother and I grabbing our kid-sized fishing poles and spending what felt like hours trying to catch craw-fish. This probably only lasted 10-15 minutes since the average attention span of a 9 year old doesn't really exceed that. 

I remember going down to the barn and helping clean and ready horses. My favorite horse was named "gray" or "smokey" or something like that. We would ride down the trails and next to cliffs and through streams. I remember how wonderful it felt to jog on horseback, the wind whipping through my hair. I would do anything to go back to that moment. 

I remember going fishing at the pond and catching little fishies. 

I remember walking to the very first cabin built in those particular mountains...back in the early 1800s. I was fascinated and would just stand there wondering what their lives must have been like. When I finished there I would walk to the old cemeteries from the same dates. Again wondering how the lives of these families played out...running my hands over the stones I would notice how young some of them were and wonder why they passed so soon. 

I remember sledding down a snow-covered hill. 

I remember going to the only little grocery store about 30 minutes down the windy road that led to Leatherwood. It was called Joe's, after the man who ran it. Joe's sold the most necessary of kitchen items and had a little grill in back where Joe cooked for the regulars. This place was always filled with the same crowd- good 'ole boys from the country chewing tobacco and talking about their latest hunt or catch or something like that. Joe knew what I always ordered, a bacon, lettuce, and tomato cheese burger and fries dipped in a ketchup/hot sauce mixture and topped off with an RC cola. 

I remember the drive up the hill to Leatherwood, and how the scenery NEVER got old. We would drive it a million times and we would still sit silently in the car, my brother and my noses glued to the windows taking in the drive. 

I remember driving up the mountain on a clear day to look out over the mountains and valleys....and knowing God was close and was so good to create what my eyes took in. 

I miss this place. It was the place my soul found the most peace and rest. Maybe that's why I was woken up so nostalgic for it... my soul so desperately needs rest and I'm surrounded by an environment that does so little to soothe it. In the words of Mr. James Taylor, I've got Carolina on my Mind. That will have to do for now...

1 comment:

  1. Hannah - This is beautiful. I wandered over from Carrots n' Cake this morning, and I love your blog :) You are a gifted writer, and I'm excited to come back & read more. Have a wonderful day!