Monday, July 7, 2014

My Festive Fourth of July on the Mountain

     Most of you know I live high on a mountainside, and I love it.  The views are incredible, I am surrounded by nature, I almost never need to turn on air conditioning, my house is ideally set up for a work-at-home writer, and the relative isolation provides the kind of undisturbed quiet that is conducive to my work.
     The things often referred to as disadvantages by people who visit, are not really difficult to endure as long as you are prepared and plan for the necessities.   My driveway is 800 feet long, has a 180 degree switchback near the top and drops over 110 feet from the garage to the one-lane road coming up the mountain, so in the event of a heavy snowfall, there is no practical way to shovel or maneuver a vehicle down the grade.  No big deal as long as I keep plenty of food in the house; it’s a small price to pay for living where I want.
      My mailbox is a half mile away and approximately 1,000 feet below the house.  Since the vast majority of my revenue arrives by mail, it gives me a daily excuse to get off my bum and treat my dog to his favorite activity: a ride in the truck.
      The house is only two stories, but it sits atop an above ground basement and garage.  The builder elected to construct the whole structure with ten-foot ceilings, so from my cozy office on the second floor to the truck is two flights of 18 stairs.  I admit that shortly after moving in here, my legs would occasionally file a grievance with Body Parts Union, but after a year-and-a-half in residence, they have accustomed themselves to the working conditions and no longer complain if I make the climb forgetting something and have to retrace my steps more than once.

     Like I said, the disadvantages are not difficult as long as I stay prepared.

     As the end of the month of June neared, money became scarce as it does most every month and Sebastian (my dog) and I set out for our routine trip down to retrieve the mail.  I had preplanned that if there was not a significant amount of money in the box, I would forego the trip into town until the next day: there was one pitiful check of no consequence.  To give both Bubba (the dog’s nickname) and me a break, I did stop at one of the village stores to pick something up and left the truck’s A/C running to keep him cool in the lower altitude heat.  When we returned to the house and climbed the outside steps to the front deck, I heard a strange and disheartening noise.  It was the coolant rapidly escaping the overheated radiator in my truck.  You guessed it; I hadn’t planned on that.
     I sat isolated and stranded until the 2nd, knowing that some money I had lent would be returned on the 3rd.  I had a friend come collect me and drive me to town where I rented a car and arranged to have the truck towed and repaired.  The estimate for the repair was going to strip me clean of all available money, so I cancelled my nonexistent plans for the holiday weekend and returned to the mountain to await the tow truck.
     The next day, even though my loan remained unpaid, I returned the rental, picked up my truck and some needed provisions and returned to the manse with the intention of a quiet weekend of writing and editing.
     On the Fourth of July, I slept late anticipating an evening of watching the fireworks down in the valley from the front deck supping on a juicy cheeseburger, some crispy fries, a dish of summer cucumber salad and enjoying a glass (or two) of my favorite Merlot.  All was well until the sun slipped behind the Tennessee Smokys and my all-American dog reminded me in no uncertain terms that the rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air was not something he enjoyed, and he gave me proof through the night that the “fright” was still there.
     I worked and piddled all weekend; did some laundry and some housekeeping, feeling secure in my little corner of Eden with the knowledge my truck was back running and although I had no aspiration of leaving, it was comforting to know that I could if I wanted. 

      Now, if that loan would only get repaid, everything would be just great.


  1. I live in a small mountain village of 1200 in Wyoming, only difference is it gets hot here, very hot. I don't seem to find much cash in my mail box when I need it either. Enjoyed your blog.

  2. Thank you for the compliment, Neil. If you are new to my blog, you should know that as well as being a writer, I have a thriving editing business. Twice a month I send invoices to my clients and include funny cover letters about life in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was at their insistence that I started posting to the blog. As time progressed, I found it an enjoyable outlet for my numerous short stories and a good place to publicly post writing advice pieces (I am a writing coach/instructor, too). There are occasions where I preview some of my long fiction, too. I hope you take a few minutes to browse the other posts and watch for other articles, stories, and muses as they bleed out onto the computer screen.