kentucky mountain

THIS ALL HAPPENED in some remote agricultural community on the other side of the mountains, a place of rolling green fields and yellow corn pastures, with a silty dark river snaking through it, full of farm run-off and gloomy rocks. At the center was a gray mountain that rose up high into the clouds, its base covered with patches of moss and forest. My grandmother was from the South, true, but I didn’t know she had people here in Kentucky, or that she had left a house in my name. This was a long house, a kind of Swiss chalet, same style of angled roof, with at least five levels, each ringed with balconies. Inside, it was fully furnished with rugs and couches, rotary phones and lamps, mustard-colored curtains and bedspreads. Retro chic, circa the LBJ Years. Yes, it was a fine house, and I was surprised that it had been left in my name, but I had never once considered a life for myself in the landlocked South. Still, the local people were so friendly, far friendlier than the Estonians, I thought. One young local woman, a chummy highlands brunette, even showed up in a plaid dress on the porch and asked me if I wanted to share a bottle of whiskey with her. I looked at her and the high gray mountain, with its slate gray sheets of rock at the precipice. This was like some Welsh mining community, I thought, like Aberfan, the site of that 1966 disaster where the colliery spoil tip collapsed and killed 144 people. This was Aberfan, Kentucky. But there was a house here, a wonderful house in my name, and a woman waiting with whiskey. She was still out there on the porch. Maybe I’d stay.

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