The place I call home is part of what has been passed down through my family for years and years. The wooden floorboards of my house are the same that my Dad walked on 50 years ago when he was a kid. The land is a member of my family who ages and grows and changes with each generation.
Part of the land that we call “the holler” now belongs to my uncle but is about to be sold to someone new. This is the first time in my memory that any of this land will belong to someone who’s not related to us. I’ve been thinking a lot about the holler lately and what it has meant to me over the years.
When I was about 4 years old, I would look forward to riding with my Dad to the mouth of the holler to the “grease rack” to change the oil in his car. It was a handmade set of ramps built from old railroad ties that we could pull the car on to drain the oil. I would set in the car and color while he changed the oil. Though it was only a short distance from my house, it seemed like such a treat to get to tag along.
The holler if full of memories everywhere I look. I remember riding in the back of my Papal’s truck to pick berries when they got ripe. We would all load up and drive into the woods, often eating as many berries as we would pick. My Dad told me that when he was a kid, much of their garden was raised in the holler on a part that was level. They called it “Tomato Pint.” He took me there one time to fly kites because there are no power lines there to get in the way.
You can circle behind our family cemetery and end back up at Tomato Pint. It’s a nice little hike though the woods on what you could barely call a trail. My Mom took me walking there when I was about 5 and I could have swore I found a dinosaur fossil. Looking back, I’m sure that it was just a normal, average rock but I was convinced otherwise at the time.
Back before we got all sophisticated with town water, about 7 families depended on a spring in the holler for their water. There wasn’t much water pressure but we all made do by calling each other to schedule our shower times. We had to be pretty conservative with the water during the hot summer months and we often had water leaks that would have to be fixed as a community. I plainly remember seeing my Mom and my aunt “walking the water line” to see if they saw any puddles or signs of leaks. My Papal would be out there too, dowsing with a metal clothes hanger until the leak was found. The spring house where the pump was located had to be heated in the coldest parts of winter. It was a steep walk down a hill to get to it and I was never allowed to go for fear of being snake bit. Not long ago, my Dad showed me where he had helped build a spring box in the holler when he was about 10 years old and had wrote his name on it.
As I got older, going into the holler seemed to be a sort of right of passage for the friends I brought home. Every boyfriend that I had (that my parents approved of anyways) was lead by my Dad on a walk into the holler to show them around. One of the more famous sites was a camper that my uncle put in a tree. Yes, I’m serious.
Eventually, my Dad (and a couple of his brothers) bought golf carts that we would ride on as far as the road would allow. A few years ago, we found an apple tree there. I imagined that my ancestors planted it so long ago that it had been forgotten. It bore some of the best apples I’ve ever tasted. I only wish I knew what kind they was.
My uncle built 3 crosses in the holler. We would go there to pray and think about all God’s done. During one of my lower points, I marched into the holler crying and prayed at the crosses. I stayed way longer than what I should have by myself but somehow I never became a bear’s supper. My prayer was answered so I guess it was best that way.
The holler has provided many memories for all of us, both good and bad. Once my aunt wrecked a 4 wheeler over there and it landed on top of her. It was really a sight to see an ambulance trying to get to her but even worse when it tried to leave and almost got too stuck to get out. One time as me and my Dad was coming back from the holler, my Papal met us and told us he needed to go to the hospital. He never came back home, dying there about 2 weeks later.
We have cut Christmas trees from the holler. We have been snipe hunting and big foot hunting in the holler. I even buried a ground hog there once.
I really hate to see the holler change hands, knowing that I may not have the right to go there anymore. I just hope and pray that whoever it goes to will love it and cherish it and make memories there just like I’ve been blessed to do.
*Please forgive any “grammatical errors.” I was writing this from the heart and not so much from the brain. When I do this kind of thing, my dialect overtakes me and I tend to write the way I speak…which by no means is “grammatically correct.”