Every Doorbell Has Its Ring

A muted medium clang rings out when you turn the handle on this doorbell. Four generations of our family have had their turn at the bell. A trip to the Mountain House would not be the same without at least two or three visits to the bell with a shout out—company’s coming! Every kid did it until the grownups last nerve was set off and then we would do it one more time.

The Mountain House as we call it, was originally owned by my Great Aunt Nana and Uncle Bim. Nana was born Anna Gertrude and when I was born, I inherited the name. It’s old fashioned and suits me well. It is also meaningful for me that the first woman to set foot on this land was named Anna Maria. Marie is my middle name. It was just meant to be that way because the genealogy of our family is written in my heart.

The bell is kept on the door, which is under the porch overhang, which looks out over the meadow. The meadow was home to a salt lick that my Uncle Bim placed there to attract deer. Watching the wildlife in those mountains was the biggest past-time. In the evening, the deer would be coaxed out of the forest to lick the salt. You always wanted to be the first to sight one. Our Uncle Bim loved that his salt block was an important part of the Mountain House experience. After dark, Uncle Bim would shine his flashlight down toward the salt lick and several mirrored eyes would look back at you.

Perched on top of the first porch post would be a bird’s nest. The Mountain house was vacant for a few days at the time and birds would nest in the perfectly peaceful and protected location. It was part of the experience too and four generations of watchful eyes had witnessed a fresh nest each summer. The momma bird would be angered that we had disturbed the area but she kept on nesting and got use to us.

Who knows what hides under that porch that is the foundation for the door with the bell. I always ran up the steps to make sure what ever was under there never caught me. I didn’t sit with my feet dangling either. Our Nana could always be heard saying–watch for snakes and critters under the porch. I believed her.

Almost always, the whole family gathered around the front porch and the swing. During meals, us kids would pull out the old school chairs with the attached desk. The Mountain House had several of those old wooden desk chairs and we would rush to get one. The whole family usually spilled out on to the lawn. Nothing taste better than a good meal at the Mountain House.

If you were at the Mountain House, then the burn can had to be started and kept going most of time. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times…..don’t throw cans in the trash. Cans won’t burn. Every member of our family has several burn cans. I don’t know if it’s Southern to burn your combustibles….but we made it a holiday. More stories have been shared gathered around the burn can.

It was especially emphasized in the dark of night. The nights can be chilly but the burn can assured a comfy atmosphere. Sometimes, the grown-ups would forget the kids were there. If you stepped just out of the firelight, you could hide in the darkness and not be noticed. I called it the ring of knowledge. I learned a great deal about life hiding in the ring of knowledge which was located in the upper meadow of the home that had the door where the bell rang.

I ran up this road once at break neck speed trying to get home before the storm hit. I didn’t make it and lightening struck the ground in front of me. I have a problem with my right ear to this day due to that strike.

The mountain house is located at the end of a road that leads up the mountain. It’s just not a Mountain House trip if you don’t walk a good distance down the road and inspect the treasures along the way.

Uncle Bim taught me where snakes came from and he said it so convincingly that I was sure it was the truth. He told me to peer in to the depths of a rain puddle to see the baby snakes. I looked and sure enough, there were little flexible rods swimming around as if they were in a big lake. I still remember that moment to this day and I was about 6 at the time. Uncle Bim explained that long ago horses passed that way and over time lost some of their mane along the way. If a horse hair was allowed to soak, it would turn in to a snake. I’m afraid of rain puddles to this day.

So much of what Nana and Uncle Bim taught us kids has stuck. Everyone was blessed by having them in our lives. Nana taught me about the mountains, the people, the ways, the beauty, and how to appreciate it all. I am forever grateful.

There is a crik down there where us kids played and we’ll save that story for another day…but today, you see how big the pines grow. Nana taught me the toast for our state and it goes like this:

The Toast of North Carolina

Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine, The summer’s land where the sun doth shine. Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great. Here’s to down home, the Old North State.

Nana taught me how to weave the long leaf pine needles and make a necklace, or basket, or bird’s nest. She was just about the best person I know.

Upon arriving at the Mountain House, we would place a watermelon upstream in the creek. It would sit in that ice cold water letting the cold permeate every tasty bite.

When Uncle Bim got good and ready, he would bring the watermelon up on this back porch. The watermelon knife was selected and perfect little canoe shapes where equally sliced. There was a table on that back porch and come watermelon cutting time, Nana would lay newspaper out to collect seeds and juices. The years of cutting have worn remembrances in the table and made it sweeter through time.

Quickly, we ate the heart of the melon which was the sweetest of all the parts. Nana would remind us not to eat the white parts. She would explain each time we ate the watermelon that the white would give us a belly ache. She said it cause us kids ate to the rind and would have gone beyond without the fear of a belly ache.

And as the heat of the sun parked over the Mountain House, you would find us napping in house which was the frame for the door which lovingly has cared for the bell all these years.

————-Dedicated to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob for their continued care of The Mountain House–

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Snappy says:

    That was a lovely post.The poetary and happy memories made me smile, thanks for sharing!I would love one of the old mountain houses with deers, doorbells, and salt lick trees.will read more of your posts.
    It’s so good to see you stop by! I was just at your blog and enjoying it as well. I hope you get a mountain house one day as they are the makings of the best memories.


  2. Philip says:

    What a beautiful story, Anna.
    I loved it all, the bird’s nest on the porch, the deer at the salt lick, Nana weaving things.
    Such wonderful memories you shared, i felt transported.
    Best regards,
    Philip I wonder who gave you the wonder and awe factor in your life? I am always pleased when you respond cause you pick out the most meaningful things to me. Thank you.


  3. That was very, very nice Anna. It’s is truely fortunate and great to get out from the town and get into the countryside. Mountains and creeks, out to explore flora and fauna that is lovely. Great post / LOL Tyra
    Thank you and I enjoyed telling it to ya. I wish you had been there cause it is almost too grand to explain.


  4. Anna ~ I enjoyed this family reminiscence so much! Your vivid memories, accompanied by the wonderful photos, made me feel as though I were strolling right up that beloved mountain house. I spent much of the summer, growing up, in the hills of New Boston, NH at a very rustic, old family camp on seven acres of woods… no neighbors in sight. It’s gone now, but you brought me right back to that precious spot.
    If you don’t have pictures then I hope you can get some. They work to get cobwebs out of the brain and regenerate lost moments. I had heard that after you turn 50, which is me, your long term memory get’s better and the short term fades. I can certainly say that is the truth.


  5. Gail says:

    Anna, As always you are a great story teller…what a gift for your children’s children to have these memories to pass on. Gail
    I do so much enjoy telling stories.


  6. mothernaturesgarden says:

    It was a custom at my grandmother’s house to take a nap on the gallery after lunch. You might lean back in a straight back kitchen chair againt the wall or just sit on the floor and lean against the wall. Or to relieve your back you might just stretch out on the floor. It was cooler and, for heaven’s sake, you would not put all of the outside accumulated on you from the farm onto your clean white linens.
    That really is interesting. I guess if you were use to sleeping in a straight back chair–then you can live with it….do you think it came from the feelings that if people were to lie down and get comfy, they would be considered lazy? That was a big deal to that generation.


  7. Jen says:

    Sounds like that place holds lots of special memories for you, particularly of your Nana and Uncle Bim – who lives there now? I love the image of you and Nana making pine needle necklaces. I too remember lots of details from my grandparents house on Cedar Point in Ohio. It was sold many years ago – how great that you can still visit this special place.
    My aunt and uncle own the home now and they have opened it to the family if we want to go up. There are people up there now from our family down in Florida. The aunt and uncle who own the Mountain House have really taken care of it well. There is a good bit of maintenance and mowing involved and not to mention the taxes. So I’m appreciative they took it on for us to enjoy a few more years.


  8. linda says:

    What a wonderful story Anna, and how blessed you are to still have the old home place in the family.

    My great grandpa’s farm in Nebraska is still in the family. But my grandparents’ farm in Missouri was sold after they passed away. I still go there in my mind.
    I am emotional about this place and it helps to write about it. I feel like writing it down adds some importance to the story. It’s my way of honoring them.


  9. Cindy says:

    I forgot, I wanted to say that my parents home has a doorbell like the one on your Mountain Home. It is on one of the front doors which is not usually used, we use the kitchen door or go through the garage. But it was always great fun for us to ring that bell.
    I can still hear it in my mind–can you? I have more memories of the Mountain House than our regular home.


  10. Cindy says:

    What fabulous memories. It’s so wonderful that you are writing them all done for your future generations to enjoy. It certainly is the simple things in life that are the best.
    I think when they get older–like me–they will be glad I wrote them down. For now though, they are busy living as I did at their age. They hear me talk about this stuff all the time and they roll their eyes when I start on a long story. There will come a day when I can spoil a grandbaby in to listening to me.


  11. Phillip says:

    Wonderful stories and pictures Anna. Very different from my growing up in London and gives different perspectives on childhood – and avoiding lightning!
    I can still remember the storm day. Right after the strike, the air smelled like an electrical fire. My hair stood on end and it startled me to the point of fear. I was certain for a moment that Aliens had come and gone. 😉


  12. Wanita says:

    What a great story about your mountain home, Anna. I can picture all of you eating that watermelon.

    We had burn barrels where I grew up in Pennsylvania, although we didn’t stand around them and talk like your family did. And when my husband and I were renting a farmhouse here in MN, we had a burn barrel.

    Great memories, Anna. Thanks for sharing.
    It was a lot of fun. I was looking through my scrapbook last night for the first year
    Mr.D and I were married. I ran across a Christmas card from my Aunt Nana. In the card, she wishes we were all little again and running around her house. She really missed me after I joined the Air Force.



  13. deb says:

    Sounds remarkably like my memories of the farm in Rochelle.
    I have good recollection if I have a picture to inspire me. I think that makes me a pretty good conversationalist too—I play off what others are saying. Works the same way with pictures….I start looking and listening to the picture and it brings back things I thought I forgot.


  14. Cinj says:

    I wish I had memories like that with my grandma. I like these kinds of places, but they have never seemed to stay in my family. Some of my family have chosen to stay in the same general geographic area, but I have no idea what houses they used to own.

    I haven’t seen too many burn barrels up here, but we like our bonfires around here.

    What a neat story! Did you ever have watermelon seed spitting contests?
    My brothers were sometimes spitting at each other. I was eating the watermelon so fast that my seeds were going in my tummy. My aunt was afraid for me. She said I was going to sprout watermelon plants out my ears.


  15. That was wonderful, Anna! It reminded me of my father’s childhood homeplace in Alabama and the stories he used to tell about it. Thanks for sharing it.
    I think that I grew up with lots of old people and they have stories to tell. I was a good listener. They didn’t sit around in silence–they talked all over each other but some how they kept up. But if a really good story was being told….everybody hushed and listened. I guess a lot of old places looked just like this one. I think the past just gets better with time.


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