Drink Up The Creek And Not Down


You might get really thirsty eyeing a stream so clear and inviting but make for darn sure no cows are upstream. I use to drink from this very spot after a late day of chasing lightening bugs. It was just about this hour and their faint glow could be seen under the thick tree canopy. Off in the distance was the Whip-Poor Whill calling the night to take hold.

Soon I’d be sleeping under the colorful quilts that come on the breezes of the billowy curtains.


You could spook yourself with a good imagination. It isn’t for sure what hides in the mystery of the tree canopy. Along about the time the sun hides behind our mountain, a new life emerges in the cool magical moment. Lightening bugs start sending out flickering signals that pronounce it’s time to call it a day. You can find them during the day as they aren’t too hard to spot but who wants to catch a bug without a glow?


Listen for the cattle lowing. It’s a pleasant enough sound as far as lowing goes. Have you ever lowed? Lightening bugs don’t low. They glow.


One thin strand of connected wire starts humming as folks feel the need to light the afternoon chores. Off in the hollar is the misty smoke that gives our southern Appalachians their name. It’s not the same heavy mist that rises in the morning. It’s a quiet kind of setting not found anywhere else on earth. I would long for this when our travels took us far away. I would long for the glimpse of the lightening bugs playing at the edge of the pasture.


It’s so quiet except for the cows lowing, the cicada’s singing, the cricket’s call, the Whip-Poor-Whil, the  babbling crick, and the sound of your footsteps crunching on the pebbles.


The connected wires run through the pasture and past the lowing cows and branch off to the mountain folk who have always lived there. Their grandparents lived there and every generation of lightening bugs from now till back when trees were more plentiful than cows on this bit of open peacefullness. No other time of day is this spot painted in the colors of a deer and a rabbit.


He’ll come out in the grasses and you won’t even know he’s there. He’s always crossed at that spot even when the road wasn’t so grand but yet held ruts from the wagons. The road has always been there except for when the folks didn’t live in the mountains. I don’t know when that was but something like this will call you back and keep the weeds off the path.

august-blowing-rock-and-mountain-home-092Here’s the burn can that hides at the edge of the meadow and threatens to catch the bugs on fire. They’ll be dipping and diving when the flames lick the moon.


Something horrible is hiding under there and I’m not ever not never going to find out. It gets more worse and fierce as the last light fades.


The white reflection of the house lingers the memories just a bit longer but soon it fades too as night time apple butter and simmering coffee calls the weary inside.


And such is how it went when I chased lightening bugs down by the creek at the edge of our big woods on top of the mountain where my Nana and Uncle Bim took me to make memories at The Mountain House.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. VP says:

    Lovely pictures and story Anna. I loved the faded picture of your folks the most though. It looks well treasured.
    We didn’t use to know about acid paper and it’s decaying affect. I’ve been trying to take pictures of it all so I can preserve them forever. They can’t be removed from the backing. I really do love these people and what they taught me.


  2. Beautiful pics and beautifully written.

    Thanks Anna

    I long to be little again so I can enjoy it more.


  3. Cathy says:

    Wonderful memories and what a great story with the lovely photo scenes, you must
    of had lots of fun growing up there. Happy Spring, it seems to be really here now!
    They are the very best of memories. Happy Spring back at cha. I just checked on the seedlings and they survived the cold snap last night. My make-shift greenhouse must have done the trick. Shewwwww, I was worried about all 800ish or so little plants. You can’t exactly haul them all inside. I think we are home free now…but you never know in NC.


  4. Catherine says:

    What a nice post! It looks so calm and quiet there! You reminded me of the lightening bugs we’d try to catch when we lived in Missouri, we don’t have them here.
    I’m sorry you don’t have them. I don’t think summer nights are the same without them. Spotting the first lightening bug is an occasion celebrated with comfort food and good fellowship.


  5. nola says:

    How well you write! I could just picture it in my mind. Everyone should have such great childhood memories! One of my strongest memories of my grandmother’s farm is how the earth smelled; it just smelled better than city soil. It smelled like clean air and rain.
    I remember the smell of the earth and you are right–clean and fresh. The soil up there is black and rich I think. Down here it’s red and brick hard. I would live up there if it weren’t so remote.


  6. cindee says:

    What great childhood memories! I bet you had a lot of fun growing up there! I would love lightening bugs! We don’t have those here.)-: We do have cows though! They break in all the time and eat my flowers and stomp on things I would rather them not stomp on. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story(-:
    Last time I was there, the cows were loose. One bull was roaming around and that was a bit spooky. I’m sure it would not be safe to cross his path.


  7. Marnie says:

    A wonderful place. Not many of them left. When I was a kid there was a stairway with monsters under it. They may have been kin to the monsters under the mountain house porch.
    I’m certain there were kin. I heard them talking about having relatives up your way.


  8. Janet says:

    Lovely memories Anna! Beautiful scenes and you can almost hear the cattle lowing (mOOOOOO) ;-D I cracked up when I read the part about drinking upstream. There is a song–a cowboy song http://www.rhapsody.com/player?type=album&id=alb.143312&remote=false&page=&pageregion=&guid=&from=&hasrhapx=false&__pcode=
    go here and then click on “The Trail Tip Song”…if you think the other song I had posted was Texas…this is pure cowboy!
    ps- I have a rule- no basements nor attics after dark, the same would be applicible to the ‘under the porch’ issue.
    What a funny song. I will surely not squat in my spurs! It’s true….don’t drink the water where the cows have been or you will get scooty poos. Nana will fuss at you and make you drink some horrible concoction that’s been sitting on the bathroom medicine shelf since time began.


    1. Janet says:

      scooty poos?? new one for me–great expression!!
      It’s not pleasant.


  9. mothernaturesgarden says:

    Your post reminded me of Grandmother’s quilts but in winter when it was cold and I as a child would jump in bed under tons of quilts. Fireflies flickering in the evening always made me feel at peace. Memories of the fireflies is mostly from the time when my own children were young. It was fun going down memory lane with you.
    Me too, I ran and got under the quilts. They weren’t like quilts made today. The original quilts were fluffier and heavy. The batting was loose and you’d have to shake it to get it even all over. They smelled so good.


  10. Darla says:

    Oh Anna, this just took my breath away! Brings back fond memories of times spent witht the ole’ folks for sure. Great photos! I have been trying to show my girls how to catch fireflies, they think it’s the coolest.
    I didn’t know they were ole folks when I was young. They were the only people I was around. I’m the youngest of that whole generation of children. I was born to a mom who had 3 grown boys. I was a surprise. It was fun when I was at my grandma and aunts house. They always smelled good and their homes were full of treasures.


  11. Phillip (UK) says:

    Wonderful pictures and memories Anna, and very true about thinking before you drink from a stream.
    It doesn’t take to long to think before you ever do it again. There are consequences.


  12. How incredibly beautiful!

    Did you have to wait long to photo the deer?


    P.S. I’ve mothballed Esther in the Garden and am blogging at http://esthersboringgardenblog.blogspot.com/ instead.
    Sorry Esther, I had to go rescue your reply from the spam box.

    I didn’t have to wait long at all to get the deer photo. They are all over the place up there. You can see them just as the night comes on. My uncle use to put a salt lick way down in the pasture. They would come out at night and lick it. When you shined a light down there, you’d see two beady eyes looking back at cha.


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