Thursday, August 6, 2009

Old houses out in the hills

While going through some files today, I happened upon these photos I am including. They show a two old houses, which, if they were currently occupied, would be some of our closest neighbors at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm.

As you can see from the photos, the first house is in bad condition and may not stand many more years. I can hardly believe that I remember the people who lived here. One of the girls who grew up in this house was a contemporary of my brothers and me. The family farmed the upper end of this creek bottom. Some years later, after I left for college to make my own way in the big world, the family dispersed leaving the house abandoned.

Over the years hunters and others have gone into the house and ransacked it. But even now there is strong evidence of the family that once lived there. The oddest thing is that it appears that the family just walked out of the house and took almost nothing with them. Clothes are still on hooks. The battered furniture in still in the house. There is perhaps more to that story.

Now, at my age I have a memory of other such house places not far from here. Most were not occupied when I was a child but they were then standing, along with a few outbuildings and hand-dug wells. Cabins (not houses as we think of them) were scattered along dirt roads and deep in the woods where the tracks leading to them are no longer even faint. You have to know where the remains of these places are located to find them. Some are now gone to rot with only a few foundation stones remaining to mark their location.

I have always been intrigued by these old house places. They each have a story. I know only a few of those stories. The last photo showing the old house that now has collapsed into the ground was called the Algerine Place. In that log cabin a son accidentally shot and killed his mother. He was preparing to shoot a hawk that was perhaps threatening their chickens. The shotgun somehow discharged in the house, killing his mother instantly.

Nearby is a house (not shown) where a wayward daughter killed several of her family members by poisoning the water pail. And, there are more such places where families once somehow scratched out an existence. Many are now only traces in the ground.

Well, I like these old pictures. I like to look at them even though they make me feel old. And somewhere among boxes of old photos that were taken on some medium they long ago called "film", I may even have photos of some of these old places when they were younger and in a better state of repair.

From the Hills, The Old Hired Man

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Kids and the creek

Recent experience at Rock Eddy Bluff shows that there are two options for handling grandkids who claim to be bored: (1) Set them in front of a TV with an antimated movie, or (2) take them to the creek or river. Get them wet!

We prefer option two for a variety of reasons. The kids actually get excercise, they connect with nature, and when we bring them home they are tired and ready to rest. Splashing around in the water seems to have a wearying effect on kids. Can I get a halleluya?

The photo shows our grandkids: Declan, Lily, and David.

Chances are you will have to deal with assorted fauna that the children love to collect. Crawdads are a favorite, along with tadpoles and minnows. Here is where we need to be sneaky. Of course kids want to bring home the critters. They have named them and are envisioning a long relationship extending into their teen years. Older folks, if they plan well are able to somehow allow a merciful escape back into the wild before the party returns.

We have two wonderful places for kid splashing here: The excellent gravel bar at Rock Eddy below the bluff, and Clifty Creek, about a mile down the road. At either location the Hired Man and Missus plan ahead and take folking chairs. We are comfy while kids splash. An excellent refinement for hot days is to move the chairs into the water where you can recline partially submerged. On certain occassions it has been known that there was beer involved.

I am quite certain that kids will remember their river and creek time long after the images of the animated characters in movies have faded. Who could forget the first encounter with a Jesus bug? (They walk on water). And how about tadpoles changing into frogs, legs sprouting from their sides. Snake are alway facinating, and when encountered, are an excellent opportunitiy for teaching.

Then there are rocks! Many a throwing arm has seen early developement at the creek. With no shortage of rocks of all sizes, the act of heaving them into the creek may proceed for hours. At a certain stage of youthful maturation the refinement of skipping rocks can be added.

We have had quite a bit of kid time in the water this summer. We hope for more.
The Hired Man