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The hill above Green Pond.

My father and I would go to the hill, the only forested area on our 140 acre farm, to cut firewood. I remember the mighty chestnut trees, with limbs that seemed to cover acres of land, the chinquapins we would gather, the blackberries that grew there... Sometimes there would be persimmons, and one could see birds, flying squirrels, rabbits, and an occasional owl. During the hot summer months the horses climbed the hill and rested in the shade.

Fall was the time to gather wood for the winter. A dead or dying tree was cut and made to fall where little or no damage would be done to other trees. After the wood was cut and split, taking every small piece the size of a finger for kindling, the brush was piled on the stumps and burned so all that remained was a cupful of ashes.

Then the horses were hitched to the wagon and the wood was taken to the woodshed where it was stacked, ready for the winter fire.

As a young boy, when work permitted, I sometimes played in these woods. It was great fun to swing o vines that grew tall in the tree tops, pretending to be Tarzan.

As the chestnuts began to die out they were cut, loaded on a wagon, taken to the sawmill, and made into lumber for building barns, chicken houses, and whatever else we needed.

Soon the great chestnut trees were gone. The hill is still there, and the mighty poplars, white oaks, maples, a few pines and the persimmons remain. Near the bottom of the hill is one lone black walnut that must be 60 feet tall, always producing several bushels of walnuts.

Going home

Many years later, after retiring from the armed service, I returned to the hill above Green Pond and built a large two-story log home. No trees were cut down, as I selected a site just inside the woods that was bare of trees, leaving several large oaks to the right of the house and one in front. From the porch, you could look south toward the mountains as far as the eye could see. The house was built in the winter of |77 and |78, one of the coldest winters on record for east Ten- nessee.

As spring arrived and the wildlife woke up and headed down the hill to Green Pond for a drink of water, I wondered what went through their minds at seeing this large house blocking their path. We had opossums climbing the logs peering in the window, and raccoons, foxes, and other creatures that hung around for a while. But they soon went about their business and were seldom seen.

I continued my father's practice of cutting the firewood, taking only the dead or dying trees, burning the brush, and leaving nothing but ashes. The only difference was that instead of a two-man crosscut I had a loud bellowing gas chain saw that broke the silence of the woods and could be heard for miles.

Things don't work out

For many reasons, things on the hill never worked out for us.

My wife never really liked the rustic house or the isolation, away from civilization. The economy took a turn for the worse and I had to find work and this made it even harder on her, as I was gone from 3-11 p.m. every day, including some weekends.

But in spite of all the drawbacks, I believe now that I really loved the place, and was happier there than I had ever been before or since. I lived there long enough to spend time with my father and mother before they passed on, Dad in 1980 and Mom in 1983, both at the age of 87. After that, I felt I no longer had a reason to stay.

In the winter of 1984, we had a big snowstorm and there were nine-foot drifts in my quarter-mile driveway and in the fields in front of the house. The blacktop road was impassable for two days and when it was cleared, I walked nearly a mile to where a friend picked me up in a four-wheel drive and took me to work and brought me back at midnight, when I walked the mile back to the house through deep snow. It was nearly two weeks before my driveway was open so I could get out.

This was the last straw for us, and we put the house up for sale.

But after that, everything seemed to go our way and we were both starting to like it there.

We had trouble selling the house. The real estate people said a special person might come along, but that log houses on nine acres were hard to sell.

A change of heart

By early 1985 we had decided to stay. When the real estate agent's contract ran out, we would not put it back on the market.

However, about two weeks before the contract ran out, a buyer came along and had the cash and wanted the place as soon as possible. When we mentioned that we had changed our minds, the real estate agent said that we would have to pay the commission anyway, since it was still on the market. It would have been a lot more money to put out that we did not have, so we sold.

Now, eight years have passed. We live in a nice house in South Carolina, in a subdivision. I have a good job and my wife is happy with her friends.

Life is going nowhere

But life seems to be going nowhere. I live with my dream of going back, knowing it will never happen. After reading The Place Called Attar, twice, I wonder if I made a mistake.

It has not snowed more than one or two inches since the big storm of 1984 and by moving away, I left behind my family and the place where I grew up.

When I read Countryside I realize that I made the biggest mistake of my life... when I left the hill above Green Pond
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:homesteading memories
Author:Lowe, Lewis
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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