The Handy Man and I will admit to having a fondness for Jeff Foxworthy and his redneck jokes. There are several of his jokes that actually fit us: if your house came on wheels…. you might be a redneck; if you have at least two dogs living under your porch…you might just be a redneck; (and my favorite) if directions to your home include “turn off the paved road”…you just might be a redneck.
Directions to our home involve turning off the paved road–twice. When we first moved up here, we came on the dream of the idyllic quiet and natural peace of our mountainous abode. We very quickly learned that when you live on a dirt road, you will have red dust all over your house. It was such a blessing when the county
caved into our badgering finally had money in the budget to pave our road–or if not actually *our* road, then the road that fronts our property and which gets most of the traffic that comes up this way.
The other peril of living on a dirt road at the top of a mountain is that road maintenance is
a joke less frequent than is really needed. We joke that the county checks the weather satellite to make sure they scrape the road the day before it rains. (They are pretty consistent, too. The last time they scraped the road, the Handy Man turned to me and remarked that he didn’t think we were supposed to get rain that week, but that we must have been looking at an outdated weather forecast. Sure enough, it rained the next day.) We used to deal with the road washing out every time we had a heavy rain. One memorable time it washed out was when I was extremely pregnant with Gladys Mae. The two oldest children were in public school at that time, and I had Dee (age three at the time) and Star Child (age two) and a very prominent pregnant belly, inside of which Gladys Mae was peacefully growing. I managed to get our old Volvo station wagon off the mountain, but I knew that there was no way I was going to make it back home over the ravine that had washed out across the road just below the first turn-off to our property. Before I went to the grocery store, I paid a visit to the courthouse to speak to the county administrator. Mr. Canup was, I am sure, a very nice man, but we had not always had pleasant dealing with him because the road was in such poor shape. Usually the county would get around to fixing a problem on the road a week or two after three or four of the residents up here complained. (We even had a little network, calling each other to make sure we had all called the county to complain in order to “expedite” their interest in fixing the road.) So I knew Mr. Canup as a voice on the other end of the phone, but that was about it. That day I lumbered into his office with my two adorable toddler girls and my imminently present Gladys Mae and calmly told him that my road was washed out, that I was going to go grocery shopping, that I planned to buy ice cream, and that if I could not get back home, I was going to bring my children and camp in his office until the road was fixed. The road was fixed by the time I got home. (Never underestimate the power of a gestating woman! Miss Nellaree, the secretary, told me that after I left he said something to the effect that he was afraid I was going to have that baby in his office! It makes me chuckle to remember it.)
All that to say that we understand what it is like to deal with rough roads up here on the mountain. Our driveway tends to get a bit rough as well. We know it is bad when the Fed Ex driver won’t come up our driveway. We once had a mail
Ma’am delivery person refuse to deliver packages unless we fixed our driveway. Our driveway is very steep and is composed of dirt and gravel (and the leaves that end up decomposing on it because we’re too lazy to rake them we can never keep up with the fallen autumn leaves.) We last had it graded about two years ago–it was a major operation then and involved a large dump truck filled with quarry gravel. This time we just needed it graded. When I asked Mr. Nicholson, our fantastic driveway man, if we needed any gravel, he replied, “No. I just need to get it all from the bottom of the driveway distributed back up again.”
The children had interesting responses to having a real live dirt-moving machine on our property. Little Princess was really glad to have an excuse to delay her phonics and math lessons for the day. Lil’ Adventurer wanted to watch every move the tractor made. He wanted to get up and close–and he actually was trying to carry on a conversation with Mr. Nicholson while the machine was operating. Mr. Nicholson eventually parked it and let the little ones have a chance to sit in his seat and toot the horn. Once Lil’ Adventurer had a captive audience, he was off to the races in a detailed conversation about the machine and what it does and how it moves and the dirt and the rocks and the dogs and the dirt under the house and the trees and the water and the rain and the……
Curious George was the one whose response I did not anticipate. He was terrified of the machine! He was curious, of course, and wanted to see what was going on, but he took one look at that machine coming up the driveway with the bucket full of gravel, and he ran to me with a look of pure terror on his face. He eventually conceded to stay on the porch and watch, as long as Mom was right there to hold him and reassure him that the tractor was supposed to do what it was doing. He eventually got over his fear. Once that loud engine was off, he found the beast to be quite tame.
The good news is that our driveway is smooth going again. And that means it is safe to come see us for the next few months–no special skills are required to navigate our driveway. That is not always true. Just ask the mailman.
Above is the wider side as viewed from the bottom. Please notice our beautiful chain-link and bear-proof trash enclosure.