I’ve spent a great deal of time within the mountains that surround our little town. Big Frog watched me grow and the Cohuttas called out to me with open arms. Years pass pretty fast as you age, and I found myself enjoying my last summer within the mountains nary a year ago today.
Now, I know that it isn’t summer just yet, but I know the youngins are beginning to feel that itch that appears as the school year draws to a close. The tubing companys are opening back up, and the sun is rising higher and higher in the sky day after day. The rivers are becoming less frigid to the touch, and peoples’ gardens are beginning to produce the first fruits. Warm Appalachian days are some of the most prevalent memories within me and each year as summer draws closer I experience the excitement and itch for summer vacation no matter my age.
Growing up, warmer days consisted of playing outside or going on some sort of adventure with Dad. These always ended up somewhere shady or near water as there is nothing he hates more than the summer heat. We spent a great deal of our time exploring the dirt roads, creeks and hollers that lie within the Cohuttas and its surrounding areas. To know these mountain roads is to live and to experience warm nights in the bed of a truck watching the stars shine in the gaps between the thick trees of the forest canopy…it is to know heaven. His favorite spot to cool down from a dreadfully hot day was the old baptizing hole down off the banks of Tumbling Creek. We would grab some Conoco chicken and taters, wade around, skip stones, and he would tell me stories of when he and old Papaw Creed would do the very same thing but with a bologna sandwich in tow. It’s simple here in the warmer months. Everyone gains an appreciation for the shade of the mountains and longs for those sunset drives on the dirt roads they remember so fondly from their younger days.
Even as I got older we still did the same things each summer. Creek exploring, camping at the Point, stringing beans to can, driving the back roads with 103.9 blaring, running through the orchard with the sprinkler system on…that’s summer to me.
I say this all now because as the warm weather approaches all of these memories have come flooding back to me. (It’s also already 87° down here in the concrete jungle of Kennesaw, so that’s basically summer). I realized that this summer is going to be different and I don’t know if I am quite ready for that fact yet. I figure I’ll find myself driving home more often than not, simply to find reprieve within those very same creeks that everyone before me has. Big Frog and the Cohuttas still call to me, even from 100 miles away and I long to feel the magic of those ancient hills and see the dark sky once more. That’s the thing about this town and these mountains….they’re unforgettable. They imprint upon your soul for generations.