Thursday, December 2, 2010
It was a beautiful day in North Carolina's foothills. The temperature was around 55 degrees, the wind was calm and the sun was shining. Just about all of the deciduous foliage has dropped in the past few weeks, leaving the land exposed to critical consideration. She showed me a spot that might be the one to build a house on. We're calling this one Home Site 1C and it might just be the best one yet. It's about a third of the way up a southwest facing slope, with an open view of No Business Mountain across the way and clear shots up and down the valley. Having the house closer to the bottom of the hill will also alleviate some of the erosion concerns that will crop up if we decide to go higher.
I think we're both starting to realize winter may turn out to be our favorite season here. Sure it's going to get cold, and we'll probably have an ice storm or two before March, but the now barren landscape shows off the topography of the region in a way you can't appreciate when the leaves are on the trees. There's also a growing sense of community. The summer tourists and fall leaf peepers are gone, leaving the locals the time and space they need to prepare for the coming season. "We're all in this together," is a look I recognize as I pass by neighbors who raise a hand in greeting as they stack firewood and burn off the last leaf piles of autumn.
Our greenery gathering expedition could not have been more bountiful. While I looked for deer trails and buck rubs (predictable, no?), Sue filled her bucket with twigs from holly trees, loblolly pines and rhododendron bushes, which she plans to turn into decorative centerpieces and garlands for the mantle place. She even clipped some fern leaves, which grow in abundance down by the creek, to include in her arrangements.
My contribution consisted of a little consulting work and required muscle when it came to cutting down our Christmas tree. I'm not going to lie to you; it's going to be a bit "Charlie Brown," but it came from our land and we couldn't be more pleased with the 7-year-old shortleaf pine that stuck waaaay out the back of the truck on the drive home. I wonder what all those people coming the opposite way from the cut-your-own joints in the mountains, with picture-perfect trees neatly wrapped and tied down to the roof of their cars, thought of us as we crossed paths heading back up to Black Mountain. In my beat-up little Toyota, laden with wild shrubbery and a scraggly looking pine sapling, perhaps they pitied us as victims of the recession, trying to scrape together a little cheer on the cheap for the holidays.
There might be some minor truths to that imagined assessment, but also the undeniable feeling that, as we drove west late that afternoon, Sue and I felt like two of the luckiest people on Earth.