by Alan Reynolds, 1956
There is a tract of wooded land in the mountains of McDowell County known to my family as "The Farm." This is somewhat of an exaggeration, as most of its seven hundred fourteen acres are covered with forests which run almost straight up and down. There is an orchard of five hundred trees, a creek, some springs, a house and countless coves and ridges.
This land was bought by my grandfather many years ago for a dollar an acre. The deed has many interesting and confusing clauses in it. For example, when my uncle and I spent two weeks this summer surveying the line, a measurement might read: "From a Spanish Oak atop said ridge proceed forty poles due South to a spring; then twenty-three poles to a poplar." These directions were often inadequate as the oak might have died, the spring dried up, and the poplar been cut down.
But these are not the things I remember about the farm. My memories are of long walks over the ridges with Grandfather as he pointed out the different snakes and animals, of drinking Grandmother's hot chocolate on cold winter mornings, and of swimming in the clear icy creek with my cousins during the hot summer. I remember helping Daddy dam up the creek with rocks and trees, fishing with my aunts, uncles and cousins, using an old-fashioned churn to make butter from the richest cream imaginable, and chasing cattle down the road.
I have cut weeds, hoed corn, hunted squirrels, and reroofed the house. Before that I helped butcher hogs, swam in the creek, and chased imaginary Indians through the tall forest.
And from this place of happiness and sunshine, of planting and harvesting, of roasting potatoes over an open fire, of riding a horse bareback, and of watching the Grandest Old Master paint the seasons from the delicate tints of spring through the glory of summer and the blast of autumn to the starkness of winter from this I have gained some wonderful and intangible thing which I shall never lose.