Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Different View

To paraphrase the great Jimmy Buffet: "Change in attitude; change in altitude."

I'm not a beach bunny; I'm a mountain momma. So I need altitude instead of latitude.

Traveling across Pennsylvania this week along the turnpike, I saw the fall changes coloring the mountains. Splashes of red, yellow and orange intermixed with the still green trees.

I remember one year, long ago, when I visited Mom and Dad in West Virginia, I looked up at the mountain near their apartment and for a moment thought it was on fire - the colors were so bright, reflecting the light of the slanted autumn sun.

Driving from Easton to Pittsburgh along the turnpike or I80 reminds me of the ride to West Virginia - a trip I would make frequently each year. But October was my favorite time in the mountains - especially when Mom and Dad still lived in the old, clapboard house in the "haller" in Purgittsville. One hundred and ten acres of mountain and trees. A cleared light line that brought their electricity was the only cleared area outside of the flat land surrounding the house.

I remember the smell of the woods, clear and clean. The skittering of little animals under the leaves. The call of geese overhead as they head south. The crackle of the fire in the kitchen cookstove - burning wood scent filling the small house.

My parents were fortunate enough to retire early - sell their house in Maryland and move to my father's family homestead. The land had been in his family for more than one hundred years. The house had been built right after the Civil War and had been empty for years. Mom and Dad cleaned it up, put in electric, running water and eventually an indoor bathroom. I have fond memories of Dad's prefab outhouse that he built in Maryland and carted to West Virginia.

My daughter spent several summers in the mountains with her grandparents. There was only one television channel so my eight year old read and learned how to crochet, fish and embroider - when she wasn't watching "Beekeeping for Beginners."

When my father was on his good behavior, visits to the mountain retreat were glorious.
When Pop was in rare form, the mountains were a respite.

The mountains call to me this time of year - whether they're West Virginia mountains or Pennsylvania mountains.

Traveling to Pittsburgh for work sometimes feels like going home.


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