Here is our first home, a borrowed chunk of land owned by the family of my boss. Situated in the hills of North Carolina, near a little town with a grocery, an auto parts store, Radio shack, a Dollar General and a few restaurants. We were on a not often traveled side road, at the very back end of the little farm turn off. Secluded, private and quiet enough to hear every wild animal call out in the darkness at night. Unbelievable stars, complete with a Milky Way band.
This was an old tobacco drying barn, drafty and open, and all around us were abandoned barns and primitive homes with cardboard walls and caving-in roofs. Sometimes the homes still had furniture, linens. Days off were spent exploring them and bringing home mementos of the days trek.
The land was a piece of a much larger, old homestead once inhabited by a backwoods moonshine family, the patriarch known as “Big Howdy”. It was sold off in parcels as the children grew up and needed the money to move on. Water was served to us by a spring fed pump house nearby, run through stretches of hose.
The land was teeming with the spirits of old-timey sorts, people who had worked the land for survival and raised big families to help with the toil. It had been many years since the barns were used, houses lived in, and land worked. Fencing was found mostly to be hand cut logs and barbed wire. An intact canning cellar was discovered, with a few remaining, perfectly preserved vegetables in ancient mason jars.
Our endless hikes through these old hills included the goats, dogs, cats, and while the hens liked to stay home, the roosters made an adventurous dash to keep up with us. There seemed to be an unexplored nook around every corner, and as we wore away the dirt just from walking on it around the barn, little toys and artifacts would surface from long forgotten times. The lichen blooms would suddenly explode, marking every still surface with its alien wonder.
It was hard to leave, but it was lonely and I longed for home and a place of my own. I miss this untamed beast, its secrets and hidden treasures. It was a magical place I will always hold dear to my heart, where the wind whooshed down the holler through the trees and seemed to howl. Although we moved on, I will forever cherish my time here.