Zion’s Hill

My ears are ringing, my body’s vibrating and my back hurts. After 17 hours of almost continuous driving, I just got home with the new (old) stove. But this week is now officially over, a new one will begin on the coming sunrise.

Between our shared illness and the rain (Yes, it’s still raining every week. Mother Nature seems to be determined to make up our 5 year drought in 5 months this year), DeShawn and I did very little work on 118 Henry Street this week.

A theorem of parenthood is that IF the child has a communicable disease, AND, IF the parent has no developed immunity to the disease OR there is no immunity, THEN the parent will get the disease. Thus, I came to be sick with a cold on Thursday and Friday after the week began with DeShawn having a cold on Monday. By Tuesday evening, he was well enough to help water the container garden and ride his bike a bit. By Wednesday evening, he was back to his normal rambunctious self. By bedtime on Wednesday, though, Poppi’s throat was hurting and by Thursday morning, the invariant nature of the Parental Disease Theorem was trivially evident, as the mathematicians would say.

Watering the plants, taking the garbage cans to the curb, and a bit of housecleaning on Friday really don’t count as work on the house. Besides these chores, painting 2 window sashes was all we accomplished this week. That is, before the stove pickup today.

The former owners of the stove are Debra and Russ of Uniontown PeeAay. For seven years, they’ve owned, and operated on, a beautiful Victorian house, 3 stories and well over a hundred years old. Their elder son looks to be 11 or 12 years old. Undoubtedly, all of Debra and Russ’s children will spend most, if not all, of their childhoods in this wonderful house.

My having to make the trip to Uniontown solo was bittersweet. Carole and I travel very well together. We seem to genuinely share our shared experiences and she’s always my most interesting conversationalist. If she hadn’t hurt her back, we would be talking about the herd of deer or the wild turkey beside the highway today. Or, how neat the yellow, brick alley at Debra and Russ’s house was. Carole would’ve really liked the blue and purple colors of their old Victorian house. I’m sure we would talked a long while about the “Noah Life. Erected in 1803.” house beside the interstate on the way back from Fancy Gap VeeAay.

On the other hand, driving over 970 miles in approximately 16 hours (7 hours in the rain), average speed of 61 mph, would not have been possible with any extra stops. Without having a co-pilot, the pressure for me to EFFICIENTLY complete this mission was high.

I parked around back of their Victorian house, approaching by way of the yellow, brick alleyway. Debra came out the back door with their younger son on hip. She displayed no hesitation about walking barefoot in the yard. She welcomed me in the door and introduced me to Russ, who was on a step ladder, painting the wall above, what looked like, a new cabinet. The older son was supposed to have a doubleheader baseball game today but it got rained out. Dad was making the most of the opportunity. A sprawling antique rose bush with huge pink blooms guarded the end of the old walkway we used to guide the stove to my truck.

Therein lies more of the bitter than the sweet. I think these folks are closer to my lifestyle than most others I normally come in contact with. And, I couldn’t take the time to pause a bit and visit.

On the way home, the best thing on the radio was bluegrass music. Like most of my interests, I’m more than a little particular about the flavors of bluegrass that please my auditory palate. My preferences skew strongly toward traditional bluegrass and, in my humble opinion, most contemporary bluegrass music meets the compositional but fails the lyrical standard for “bluegrass”. It was very pleasing to hear Ricky Skaggs meet the lyrical standard while mentioning a mobile phone AND a GPS receiver in his cover song of “A Simple Life”. A fiddle instrumental, by an artist I can not recall, struck me by its unmistakable taste of an Irish ballad. The movie “Matewan” came to my mind’s eye.

The following song by the Stanley Brothers plays an important part in the restoration and, eventually, the decoration of 118 Henry Street.

There awaits for me a glad tomorrow
Where the gates of pearl swing open wide
And when I have passed this spell of sorrow
I will camp upon the other side

Someday beyond the reach of mortal kin
Someday God only knows just where or when
The wills of mortal life will all stand still
And I shall go dwell on Zion’s Hill

Someday the storm clouds will be lifted
Beyond the shadow of the tomb
And with all the bells of Heaven ringing
And the angels singing “Home Sweet Home”