Diane Blanks, Blue Ridge Mountain Views #13: Of Mountain Views

Published Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Blue Ridge Mountain Views

“Of Mountain Views”

By DIANE WARMAN BLANKS

I always wondered why I find the sight of yet another gigantic “summer cottage” or a condo building on top of another previously unspoiled mountain so very, very distressing. I think I’ve finally found out Why the sight disturbs me so. It evidently comes from deep in my mountaineer DNA.

I went to a fascinating presentation by an area anthropologist a while back. She told us that when the early Scots-Irish settlers came to this region, they brought along with them their concept of “the commons,” which I assume means “the village green.” Here in the mountains, the mountaintops served as the commons, available to everyone as long as they respected the property. All were welcome to hunt there and gather nuts, medical herbs and other native bounty , the anthropologist explained; whatever people found was available to them.

The last of the wine: sourwood leaves light up the yard. Photo by Diane Blanks

The last of the wine: sourwood leaves light up the yard. Photo by Diane Blanks.

I’m sure that now and then somebody was barred from the mountaintops for abusing the open-handed hospitality. But what the actual owners Didn’t do was build a big house up there and put up No Trespassing signs all over the mountainside. A friend told me that he used to gather ginseng for extra cash money, but that these days, more and more of the land where it grows was now fenced off and posted. I grew up believing that the tops of the mountains belonged to everyone who viewed them and, ultimately, to God. The long Blue Ridge mountain views are too valuable to all of us for any one person or conglomerate to sully them.

 

It rained for days and days on end here for a spell, and we had, as my southern great-aunt used to say, “a sufficiency” of rain. There was a brief break in the downpour for a day or so, and we all rushed out, including the unicyclist who was rolling down the main street in town. I’ve been keeping a weather eye on the creek right next to the house, but so far, even with the ground saturated, the water has only come halfway up the banks, just as it always has in the past.

It’s warmed up again, but a brief earlier frigid snap was enough warning to have me busy installing weather stripping around doors, stuffing rope caulking in window cracks and putting on new door sweeps. I’m doing everything I can think of to winterize, with the exception of stuffing newspaper in the cracks, an old mountain remedy for drafts.

The handyman is coming tomorrow to staple up plastic over the back porch, the top half of which is screened. At the builder’s supply, I found myself following in my mother’s well-remembered footsteps concerning the plastic purchase. The yearly dilemma was/is that the inexpensive plastic that is thick enough not to tear in the wind is translucent, not clear, and you can’t really see out through it. One year Mama put that kind up, and we felt like goldfish in a dirty bowl, so halfway through the winter she went out during a break in the snowfall, pulled it down and put up the clear. I opted to start out with the pricier clear.

Plastic won’t please the cats. They sit for hours on the back porch on top of a yet-to-be-unpacked stack of boxes, rump beside rump, and intently watch the rabbits and squirrels that shelter in my neighbor’s kudzu patch behind the house, sniffing the air for information. During the cold snap, which they didn’t know what to make of, as they’re both Georgia cats, they kept me busy letting them in and out, rushing back inside on frigid paws.

On the advice of a thrifty neighbor, I bagged up about a fourth of the mass of leaves in the field and yard and stacked the bags against the foundation of the house, weighted down against the wind with cement blocks. Poor man’s insulation. We’ll see if it works. Dunno what I’ll do with the rest of the leaves, including the ones the neighbor on the hill above just blew down on me. There are too many to go in the composter.

The sourwood leaves hang on longer, their persimmon color glowing through the fog.

News at eleven,

Diane

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