Monday, July 26, 2010

A Sultry Summer Sunday

One of our two new Hereford bulls in with the ladies (and some of their new calves).
I don't know what it is about Sundays lately, but I do seem a bit obsessed with them. Yesterday it was hot and humid, probably the muggiest day of the summer so far. We spent much of the day in the air-conditioned house, the boys and my husband exhausted from wrangling calves on Saturday morning to tag and give shots. [One lesson learned: wait until it's cooler to do so as the calves get even more stressed in the heat.]

A palisade on a back road in Pulaski County.
Later in the day we thought it would be fun to take a little Sunday drive. This is something we've always enjoyed, usually with a destination, but this was on some back roads we wanted to explore to the south of us, down near Lake Cumberland. Here where you reside is defined by what ridge you live on or underneath: the geography defines your community. Our farm is on the southern edge of south-central Kentucky's knob region. What this affords is a rolling, hilly landscape with deeply etched hollers carved by creeks, and higher ridges or plateaus where most people prefer to build upon. It is not as jagged as parts of eastern Kentucky, more plateau-like with finger like-ridges, bumpy hills and secret valleys. Either ridge or holler have large pastures for hay or cattle, dotted by copses of trees or wooded hillsides. It is beautiful countryside and, while it can be rough and tumble on occasion, it has a particular kind of untamed, almost untapped, wildness that we appreciate.

On our little journey, we came upon this old country store, now closed. Of course I had to jump out and take a photograph but I did spare my husband my best Eva Gabor-as-Lisa Douglas imitation. And where is Sam Drucker when you need him, any way? We would have liked a cold drink, at least.

Our boys preferred to stay home and watch a movie and, with cell phone in hand, we set off solo. It is always a chance for us to talk, one on one, and we really hadn't had this opportunity for a while without some kind of interruption (it's summer vacation, after all!). Our favorite way to "off road" is to not take a map (OK, well on longer trips we do bring a Kentucky Gazetteer for backup). As I have a built-in understanding of maps and direction sense, and only usually need to look at a map once or twice to absorb its spatial relationships (yes, this is an idiot savant skill I seem to have been born with), my husband has learned to trust this about me. Doing this kind of "off-roading" (or off-mapping?) is not being afraid of making the wrong turn or the thrill of the wonderment of where we might come out. I rather live my life this way, too: taking many roads and exploring new ones around the constant fixture and presence of home and family. And, as long as I can catch a glimpse of our little "monadnock" here, Green River Knob, I always know where we are.

Green River Knob rises to the west of our own knob pasture on our ridge. It is not only the highest knob in the region but the highest point in Kentucky west of its eastern mountains. The Kentucky knobs, I've realized, are very much the last western gasp of the Appalachian mountain range that forms a long spine up to the northeast.

This same phenomena occurred when we lived back in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, too, as wherever you go, or soon nearby, you can see the great mass of Mount Monadnock as both a presence and beacon. These geographical fixtures define our places and provide an odd kind of security, too. When we are on top of our knob looking out and I see Green River Knob watching over us to the west, I always find it rather comforting. There is wisdom, truth and solace in the hills around us.

At dusk there was an odd, brilliant light from the east that cast itself on the lawn in an eerie glow. We soon realized this was created by the reflection of the setting sun on the edge of a large thunderstorm system which went around us to the south. A perfect night for a "Thunder Moon."

The chicken house at dusk, just after they'd gone into roost.
So we drove along seeing old homeplaces, new roads and different pastures and felt refreshed by the drive, the company and the air-conditioned car. To take a drive like this, whether for an hour or for the day, is always like a mini-vacation not too far from your own backyard. We came home to a build-up of thunderheads that didn't rain on us, unfortunately (it was the full "Thunder Moon" last night) and shucked some fresh corn a neighbor had given us. That, with some grilled chicken breast, was supper. Ah, a summer Sunday, to paraphrase Henry James, two of the most lovely words in the English language.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an absolutely perfect day to me!

Anonymous said...

Opps, that anonymouse was me! Destiny

Anonymous said...

Darn ... now I'm apparently a "mouse" if you check my spelling of anonymous!

Catherine said...

Thanks so much! I'm still editing the entry as we speak so you might want to check back for another photo of our own "monadnock" down here -- who knew I'd have one here, too? ;)

Anonymous said...

Damn, I LOVE your stuff. I nominated you for Mama Blogger of the week with Southern Living magazine. I hope you hear from them.

Yosemite Cat House.