MEET MY NEIGHBORS

 

Chickens, talking water pipes and “gravel” roads, life is a wonderland.

I love it when something catches my attention in the midst of “normal” and gives me pause.

Snuggled in a densely green oasis in the mountains, 11 miles outside Asheville, NC, there stands a tiny cottage. It resembles the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel, with pale aqua blue trim covering the exterior walls and kitchen cabinets. Hand painted florals and woodland imagery lace the walls and doors like ivy, replicating its surroundings.

30’ Magnolia’s, enormous Spruce and magnificent River birch trees hover over the cedar shake roof.  Variegated hosta peeps out sporadically along pea gravel paths and lilies and verbena grow wild beside an almost hidden creek bed. Ferns huge the porch, as if the cottage itself had sprung up as freely as the foliage.

When Zelda (my trusty, but troubled GPS) first lead us there, I drove right past the entrance, utterly convinced I was pulling into someone’s private driveway. After back tracking and bravely venturing down a barely visible path, however, we saw it, plain as a bread crumb trail; a hand painted sign with 15” letters that said CABIN, complete with obligatory arrow. Cautiously we inched the car down a steep gravel road too narrow to turn around or share with another car, hoping we would be able to get back out at some point.

I must confess that my initial reaction, despite its beauty, was not on the positive side. Prior to finding it, we had passed very little but truck stops and empty warehouses, and Zelda told us we were 22 minutes from downtown Asheville. It had been a long 4.25-hour drive through the glorious Smoky Mountains. The view had been breathtaking, but being the driver, so had the pressure to make it safely around tight curves and vastly differing elevations without being run over by 18 wheelers. What I wanted most at that moment, was this same quaint little hideaway, closer to civilization, (which didn’t require someone standing outside the car to help navigate the way in and out). And let’s be honest, a glass of wine was calling my name as well.

Arriving too early to “check-in” we made the trek into town for a late lunch. I pouted as we drove 25 mph behind two lanes of traffic that stopped every block for a red light. Obviously, like highway 280 in my hometown, the population had grown faster than the infrastructure, making it the type of drive, where for sanities sake, you had to just sit back, keep your foot on the brake and listen to the music. We finally arrived, some 40 minutes later.

After lunch, a tall glass of the local brew, and an hour walking around town we decided to venture back “home”.

The initial glee of stepping inside and discovering a sleeping loft, made for joyful contemplation of how exactly we hoisted our suitcases up without a crane. It really was like living in a doll house. As convenient as it was in the loft area, sitting on the bed on the floor and simply reaching over to put clothes in a chest of drawers, hugging the staircase and sliding on your bum in the dark to go to the bathroom, well, not quite as charming.

Welcome to tiny house living. Luxuries we take for granted are either eliminated or greatly reduced in size. The kitchen sink for example, so small that the owner’s notebook suggested washing dishes in the bathroom. (smile.)

But walking outside the next morning, the rush of water flowing down the creek bank from the night’s rain, the clean mountain breeze, the dance of hummingbirds, resplendent with the chirping sounds they make as they dive at each other, “gave” me new perspective.

Which only grew more favorable with the arrival of a “welcoming committee”, our very own fluffy, feathered friends, scratching and clucking their way towards us as they foraged the ground for seeds and grubs. Stopping every few steps, their red combs and giblets jerked to and fro, mirroring the movements of their heads as they cocked their eyes from side to side to examine us. Although I had no corn, or chicken feed, I was as excited as a school kid when I discovered I could coax them on the porch with bread crumbs. I was throwing bread with one hand and snapping photos with the other, as if I were in a children’s petting zoo.

Not too far away, I heard gravel under tires, just as the window a/c unit kicked on. Both recalling the chert road I grew up on, and vacations to the beach, before central air was standard practice. About the same time, the water pipes joined the familiar chorus moaning and creaking in harmony, much like the sound of our old well pump before it gave out.

As the sounds and sights of my childhood began to bloom again, I smiled. These experiences were different than the vacation I had imagined, visiting the grand Biltmore Estate, or traipsing through bohemian downtown Asheville.

Unexpected journeys; the simple, surprising gifts of life, joy and frustration, light and dark.

YOUR TURN:

What memories “give” you joy?

  • This week pick a day and time, and put it in your calendar. Your appointment with childhood.

  • Take an hour and jot down some of your favorite childhood memories.

  • Try to recall and describe the smells, the sounds, the images and the tastes without naming them.

  • Be as resourceful and wild as you want.

  • Use colors to describe attributes or emotions. Don’t be limited by the natural.

After you finish, blindly draw one paragraph from your writing and create a one page story, fictional, of course. Your characters can be animals, objects or the forces of nature, but not Aunt Sue or Uncle Bob.

Play with it…bend the corners. As they said in the Matrix, “free your mind”.

And then, share it!

(With me, if you don’t feel bold, or with the world, if you do!)
 

I can’t wait to read it.

Contact me if you want to learn how to play EVERY DAY!