I'd Like To Wander Back

I live in the same mountain holler I grew up in, and sometimes I find myself dwelling on the changes I’ve seen take place. If I could show my girls what the landscape looked like when I was their age, I believe they would have trouble recognizing it’s the same place. One house is gone, 5 have been added, fields have turned to lawns, and too many trees to count are gone.

Once a relative who come for a visit teased me about “pig trails” in the holler. I’ve always been intrigued by the trails and old road beds that run through the acreage surrounding our land. Pap can remember when they were traveled by people, wagons, horses, and a few cars.

Growing up we had gravity water (water that came from a spring up the mountain). I always enjoyed going up the creek with Pap to check on the water. He would tell me stories about the corn fields that used to be on the sloping sides of the ridges, he showed me where a stone stable had stood for horses, and he’d point out old house places and tell of the people who had lived there. Even though the houses were long gone having been erased by the woods, Pap made it seem real to me. All that remained of the homes and fields was a pile of rocks or a few flowers planted by someone I’ll never know. But the houses, fields, and people remain alive in Pap’s memory.

When I travel the trails and road beds with my girls I point out things that have changed since I was a girl. At one creek crossing I can recall 3 or 4 logs of a bridge rotted and turned green with moss. There was a whole car door leaned up against a mountain laurel-now its rusted into just a few pieces. And many of the trails have grown up with saplings and weeds cause there’s no longer a need to walk them.

I’ve always thought if I could sit quietly by one of those trails and wait patiently-eventually I’d be able to see some of those folks who traveled them, I’d be able to hear their voices. Maybe it’d be some of my ancestors walking to check on a neighbor or work in the corn, maybe it’d be some settlers who lived before Pap’s time, maybe it’d be my cousins, my brother, and me walking, arguing, playing, and keeping the paths wore.

There’s a happy child at home In my memory I can see Standing out upon the hill neath the shadow of the tree If I only had my way It would give my heart a thrill Just to simply wander back to the Cabin on the hill Oh I want to Wander back To the Cabin on the Hill Neath the Shadow of the tree I would like to linger still Just to be with those I love Joy my heart would over fill And I want to wander back To the cabin on the hill

B.L. Shook

To read more about my life in Appalachia please visit me at the Blind Pig & The Acorn.


3 thoughts on “I'd Like To Wander Back

  • June 10, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    What a lovely memory. I really enjoyed reading this. I know what you mean about things going away. I lived in a house that was over 100 years old. After we moved, several years later it burned down. There is a sort of homesickness for me when I think of it. Its made worse by the fact that even if I do go back to the land, I can never go back to the house. Sometimes I close my eyes and meditate on the good memories, sort of take a mental tour.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • July 8, 2009 at 1:45 am

    When I lived in Kentucky I walked those little mountain trails till I turned 18 and left home to work! I loved the hills and the paths I would find that had been made through the years by hunters or mountain travelers. In my young years I lived with my grandma whose house was secluded in a gap between four mountains. A foot path meandered along the the gap from one end to the other making a shortcut from the main dirt road. A family graveyard rested on top of one of the hills. There was no electricity or indoor water. She boiled the dirty clothes in a big ‘witch’ kettle outside in the yard, she used a broomstick to remove the clothes from the hot water to the rinse water. She used lye on the white shirts in the boiling water…they came out snow white! She heated the irons on top of the old wood stove. What I would give to go back to that time for a little while. I have been away some forty years, but I still get homesick for what was.

  • July 8, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Annie-loved hearing about your Grandmother’s home. You must have some truly precious memories of her and her place.

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