Today a true mountain man was laid to rest on the hill overlooking our home. The banner photo at the top of my blog was taken almost from the spot where he was buried. He was one of the first people we met upon buying our land. He was wary of us and we of him at our first meeting, but he quickly became a friend. One of the characteristics of Appalachian men is to not to talk to women outside of their family. He, though shy, was never like that. He would stop when he saw me at our mailbox or mowing the top field and chat. A nature lover, he would point out the hawks or the baby raccoons that he could spot before we ever saw them. As a veteran, he was proud of his country and his service to his country, generally wearing a ball cap that stated Viet Nam Veteran. He was a simple man that didn’t care what other people thought of him, he marched to his own drummer, but would do anything for you if asked. In the past couple of years, he first lost a leg to circulatory issues and finally his life to Pneumonia on top of COPD, he failed fast and will leave a huge hole in his family and his neighborhood. His request was to be buried on his farm, on his hill where he spent many hours day and night, watching the wildlife or the stars. At his graveside, he was given a 21 gun salute by the local American Legion, VFW and National Guard. His family presented with the flag from his coffin. Like in life, he was buried in simplicity, in his hunting clothes, his Viet Nam cap and a simple pine box. He will be missed on our mountain.
His passing allowed us to meet people who had just been names to us since our move here. Our farm sits in the midst of hundreds of acres of farmland owned by his family, his brother and cousins, only a few of whom we had met. It is a sad way to get to know them, but nice to be able to put faces with the names we have learned.
After the service and a dinner at the chapel, we hurried home to try to harvest what was left in the garden, one of his cousins, our closest neighbor coming down to help and visit. We are expecting winter to arrive tonight and have snow flurries expected this weekend with nights in the 20’s.
Darrell helped harvest any pumpkins and winter squash that were hanging from the compost bins, the ones on the ground we left to see if the leaves will die off in the freeze. A box of mixed peppers, another of the remaining tomatillos and some greens were harvested, the pepper and tomatillo plants pulled and tossed in the chicken pen, the chard covered with row cover to try to save it for a bit longer. The two cayenne pepper plants were pulled and hung upside down in the garage to see if the rest of those peppers will turn red. He left after visiting and having a cup of tea with a box full of some of the goodies. As we were cutting the pumpkins, we realize that there must be 35 or 40 more in the garden. I need to find more recipes other than soup and roasted winter squash.