Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old House in the Woods

Last weekend, while in for the 4th of July, a few of the family went berry picking in an area we called the flats. To tell you how flat it is, you have to walk down into this place, and back up out of this place, it is far from flat, but when compared to the surrounding hillsides, it is the flattest part of the land.

While walking down an old country road with huge oak tree's and berry briers that surrounded to road on both sides, we decided to go on down where the old house used to stand. As we walked among the ancient oaks, I marvelled at their size and beauty, and wondered how they had survived getting timbered back in the early 1900's when much of Pendleton County was cut over. You can't tell it from the below photo, but these tree's are so large that it'd take at least a half-dozen men to reach around them.

After going through what appeared to be an old forest remnant, the woods opened up into meadows interspersed with a few trees. On one side you had a dark and foreboding looking cedar grove, and the other is wide open fields. In between these two extreme's sits what is left of an old house.

This old house used to have the most beautiful old-timey rose bushes around it, there were pink ones, red ones, yellow ones and white ones. They smelled so good when they were all blooming. I remember that we used to make a trip down to this old house every year when the roses were blooming.

There used to be a hand pump on the porch of this old house when I was little, and we'd all pump it until water flowed from the earth, it was a sight to see for us. We lived further up on the mountain and the water table was down too far for us to use hand pumps where we lived. Part of the old pump is still there today although it doesn't work anymore.

Over the door of this little cottage hangs an open end up horseshoe, reputed to ward off evil spirits, and since it hangs open end up, prosperity would collect at this house. These superstitions are remnants of our German heritage brought over by our ancestors who settled Germany Valley in the early 1700's. We still have many of the old customs, but we've lost even more. It makes me sad to think of how culturally disadvantaged my children will be not to hear these stories and see the things that I've seen in my lifetime. I'll try my best to tell them what I know but I've forgotten alot of it. Then on the heels of these melancholic thoughts is the realization that my parents and grandparents must have felt the same way as I do now when they thought of these very things. Life is definately a circle, I just wish now that I had realized that earlier in life and really listened to my granny and granddaddy when they told me stuff. Live and learn they always said, and a bought lesson ain't soon forgot.

Out from the little cottage is what I take to be the old shed, probably it housed the chickens and such. It is in a bad state of disrepair now but still would be the envy of any modern country garden. The wildflowers grow around it now as they must have 100 years ago. That's makes me think of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which among other things says,

"To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;"

That put's in all in perspective doesn't it?
Below is the old shed that I was talking about.

It was good to be out in nature again and to see places that I hadn't seen in a few years. It was good to reminisce about times past and to spend a few precious moments with my family. It was good to be home!
I look forward to the time when I can do that again.


Shirley Stewart Burns, Ph.D. said...

Beautifully written. You are so right. I have frequently wished that I could go back and pay more attention to what my dad and grandparents were telling me about our family. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Tipper said...

My Granny had a horseshoe like you describe over the door leading into her kitchen and one over the front door too.

I love to think back on old houses and customs.