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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bluegrass PRIDE: Free of modern diversions, mountain cabin provides peace among nature

By Jane Eller
KyForward contributor

(Photo provided by Jane Eller)


My husband and I have a small cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. It is so remote that a friend once described it as “so far back it is only on the map every other Tuesday”. This presents its problems. Groceries and gasoline must be carefully planned for in advance and use of devices that require “service” is limited at best. Young professionals (otherwise known as our children) who come to the cabin suffer such painful digital withdrawal that hammocks and porch swings can only partially compensate. Nevertheless, for those patient or lucky enough to stay around, there is the most glorious entertainment, more fascinating than anything on Netflix, more profound than a Ken Burns documentary, more important than a hundred emails. Here are just a few examples:

Last winter we had a rime ice event. Rime ice occurs when, during a heavy fog, the temperature drops quickly below freezing. Though it is called ice, it really is not ice as we think of it. Instead, imagine every branch, down to the tiniest twigs, with almost microscopic ice crystals twining like bottle brushes around them. On this particular morning, as we walked around in the magic of a rime iced forest, the sun came up over the mountain and the crystals began to melt and float through the air like tiny angels released from earthly cares. We stood stock still in the silence and just marveled.

This past weekend, drinking coffee in the kitchen, we looked out into the woods and saw what looked for the whole world like colored Christmas lights twinkling through the trees. It had rained the night before and each leaf held drops of water, softly moving in the wind. Once again the sun coming over the mountain was shining through the drops, turning them into tiny prisms. As they moved, each drop turned from amber, to red, to turquoise to white. The show went on for twenty minutes, moving through the trees as the sun reached them.

In addition to the magical events like these that occur once or twice a year, there is the everyday magic. The mother turkey running across the road with her chicks in tow, then running back right in front of the car to retrieve a slow poke; the spring peepers so loud that you have to close the window to get some sleep; the squirrels giving us a piece of their mind each and every day; the night time show starring the milky way and selected galaxies and, of course, the 10 month parade of wildflowers that peep up through the February snow and don’t stop marching until they have provided decoration for the Thanksgiving table.

Why do we enjoy all this so much? After all, we were young professionals once. Is it because we are getting older and see our own ends in sight? See that we will soon join this circle of life and death. Is it because the lack of modern diversions gives us time to appreciate events that happen on a slower time scale. Or are we simply becoming childlike again in our agedness, with the time to simply be. Whatever, I smile at the thought of what nature’s next sleight of hand will be.

Jane Wilson Eller is part time development director for Bluegrass PRIDE. She is retired from the Kentucky Environmental Education Council where she was director for 16 years. Jane is married to UK History Professor Ron Eller. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Click here to read more Bluegrass PRIDE columns.



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