By Linda Clark
When I read your story in the Legacies titled Log Cabin and its Colorful Ancestors, it reminded me of my Aunt Dora and the summer I spent with her. I’ll call it, Doras Cabin in the Mountains.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like living in a cabin half-way up a mountain side? No electricity. No water. No telephone. Fish for food. That’s how my aunt Dora lived. In a modern age you get your water either from a well or the river. That was as modern as she got. We were able to sit on the porch and watch all the wonders of life with no fear of being hurt. Like watching animals going to and from the river for a drink. Or watching a mother deer and her young laying in the cool grass under a tree, rabbits running freely in the tall grass, or birds getting worms for their young.
I sat on the porch with Aunt Dora watching a Black Bear at the edge of the woods, not sure if it was safe to go down to the river to catch some fish to eat or not. Finally, he did, passing ducks and geese on the bank.
Aunt Dora pointed to the sky. An eagle was circling overhead, like it was checking everything out. Then it flew away to land on the top branch of a nearby pine tree.
Next we see a mother wolf bring her cubs down to the river for a drink of water before going back to their den. Then we heard a coyote howl in the distance. It was a very scary sound.
We walked down to the rivers edge once more as it was getting dark, and I told Aunt Dora that I felt like I was being watched. She said, Don’t worry. They won’t hurt you. Back on the porch, I tossed some nuts to the squirrels and watched as they scampered up the tree with them. There was thunder in the distance and some lightening, too. Then the wind started blowing hard. We went inside and closed the windows and listened to the rain on the roof. Aunt Dora made some hot cocoa and we sat and talked for hours. It seemed my summer with Aunt Dora would soon be over. But I’ll have to go home. Only one more year of high school left to go.
It’s morning now and I smell coffee and hear Aunt Dora humming as she makes pancakes. She made them good, too! This afternoon I started helping Aunt Dora insulate her cabin walls for winter time. Did you ever mix dirt and straw together with water and spread on the walls like you would plaster? That’s what we did. We had left the door open for it to dry. I heard a noise behind us, and there stood a black bear, sniffing around. Aunt Dora said, Stand still and let him sniff you. After he finished smelling, he left. He had done this before. Aunt Dora said that it was almost like he was checking up on her.
I was leaving for home the next day. I hated to leave. But, I planned to go back again next summer. But I didn’t get back. I got married and moved far away. I wrote to Aunt Dora, but she couldn’t read or write. There was a forest ranger, a very kind gentleman, who wrote letters to me from her. The last one I received she said that Black Bear had died. A couple of Forest Rangers buried him for her. Black Bear was almost like a big overgrown dog to her. I know she missed him.
Aunt Dora had lived in that cabin on that mountainside all alone since Uncle Edward died when she was 65. She lived to be 95 before passing on. Her land and cabin are now in the middle of an Animal Reserve. Oh, yes. Aunt Dora was buried next to Uncle Edward on one side of her and Black Bear on the other side. She didn’t believe in pictures, so no pictures were ever taken. She said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But Aunt Dora never saw any of it. She was totally blind from a car accident when she was about 30 years old. Uncle Edward told her what everything looked like before he passed away. If you had met her, you would never have known that she was blind.
Her cabin was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
U S Legacies Magazine October 2005