I’m switching from ‘night’ mode into ‘day’ mode for the next nine days, which always takes a concentrated effort. I have to short myself sleep after Thursday’s shift, so that I am tired early Friday night; that usually means that I am up around 4-5 a.m. on Shabbat, and today was no different. But I wanted to be up today, to greet the sunrise. It is one of my last here in the holler, and I am trying to savor it all up into my bones forever. You see, I am not leaving the Chapel because I don’t like it. I actually really, really love it here. For an outdoors person, it is a magical place. Woods, streams, springs, pastures, hills and valleys, it is all here. Ice formations on rock outcrops. Old barns in various stages of disrepair. Wildflowers that I had never known. Morel mushrooms in the spring. Bloodroot and ‘sang (American ginseng), Solomon’s seal, burgundy and yellow trillium, and a bright red silene of a wild sort. Screech owls and Great Horned owls, bats and more bats, finches, cardinals, wrens, bluebirds, phoebes, hawks and the mysterious brilliant blue bird I was unable to identify; these are my companions here. We were godparents to mockingbird, wren and phoebe fledglings this year, and probably more nervous than their parents about our big goofy white dogs during the fledge period. But they did fine despite my worrying. As much as I love it though, it is more expensive to buy here than where I am going. I am a teensybit closer to civilization at the new place, although my neighbors are farther away. Here I am nearly eighteen miles from any sort of main road; down one lane roads with streams that coat them with ice, and hairpin turns where you can kiss the backside of your car while heading home. All my visitors have managed to find me though, without too much trouble. I remember when we found this place, or rather, got lost trying to find this place…lol! I looked like Linda Blair in the Exorcist trying to take it all in (sans the barfing though); high, high ridges with stands of evergreens and oaks; streams and creeks meandering everywhere; lowlands that housed collections of old trucks, abandoned farm equipment and lay hounds; cows, nearly everywhere dotting the landscape are cows; barns, both in use and unused. It was to my eyes, completely and totally perfect. The home itself sits on a ledge about half-way up the acre, with a hard slope both up behind it and down in front. The front slopes down to the creek that runs through the yard. An old tobacco barn stands on the property at the edge of the creek over to the northeast corner. The house is very small, but functional. It is surrounded by pasture on three sides, and woods on the other. It is a place that hugs and snuggles me, and makes me feel secure. My mind is full of experiences at this place, but mostly it is full of experiences shared that no longer will be shared. I have cried several times today, sorting through photos taken here, remembering walks, mushroom hunts, and butterfly tracking. I was blessed with a husband that shared my wonder of the creation and found the same delight in it that I did, whether it was the unfurling of a spring flower, the dance of a damsel fly with metallic blue skin, the bright yellow and brown hues of a woodland centipede or the normally hidden interior activity of a wren’s nest. There are times that I ache with the loss, particularly when I have no one to share a discovery with, like the day that a downy woodpecker took a liking to the porch and spent about fifteen minutes hopping from one chair to the other, hanging upside down on the back of one and admiring himself in the reflective glass before taking off back into the woods. I could prattle on about such things to him, and he would smile and hug me and say “I love you.” That is another reason that I need to leave here; too many memories made together. While most are comforting to recall, there are also haunting ones. When you look at the floor in the living room and know that is the last place that the person you loved lay, it is hard. It is a picture that pops into your mind every time you are in there. I need a place to recall without those added burdens in my mind, and a place to start making new memories as well. If I have enough space left on the server, I will try to post photos of a highlight of each month I was here. There are some months missing, as I did not take many photographs immediately after J’s death. I was too numb for the most part to appreciate the beauty in the world around me. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my year here in the Chapel. It is truly a place to find the hand of the Creator, if you but open your eyes. ‘Till next time… ~SE
January in the Chapel – Wildlife refuge nearby, when the lakes are drained by TVA
February in the Chapel – Snow!
March in the Chapel – Beginnings of Spring
April in the Chapel – you get a few here, because it’s too hard to choose just one photo for SPRING!
May in the Chapel -This is another month that’s hard to capture in just one photo.
June in the Chapel – the garden gets going seriously now
October in the Chapel – fall harvesting
December in the Chapel – Winter appears