Although she has nine children and a big burly husband, my aunt Erma is, at heart, probably the most adventurous of all of my aunts. She, along with her husband and seven of her  children spent this week at our house while they built a barn for bert on the farm that he rents.

   We’ve had numerous mini adventures together all week long but tonight was the big one. 

About 20 miles from our house, up winding mountain roads and trails, you’ll find Hensley’s settlement. It’s an abandoned settlement, perfectly preserved with barns, cabins, a schoolhouse, and a moonshine still. Most of the time the only way to get there is by hiking a rigorous 4 miles up the  mountain. Once a year they open the road and let people drive up (4 wheel drive vehicles only) 

We tried this before once. It went like most of our family adventures do. There was supposed to be a meteor shower. It was so cloudy we didn’t see a single star. We almost got stuck going up and the boys ended up getting out to push us through a mudhole. Someone picked up our water jug by the top and it fell and spilled into the pasture leaving us with zero liquid for our 2 hours of wandering through the settlement. We haven’t tried it again. Until today.

Last night we thought it would be a good idea. John and Erma were both enthusiastic and wanted to go so we thought, why not?. Of course this time will be different. 

I was making donuts all day with the youth group and since it was cold and rainy all day, I assumed that the idea was dropped. I guess not. Mom called me about 4 and wondered why I wasn’t home, they’re waiting on me to leave. oh. ok. We were just finishing up the donuts so I flew home, dashed up the stairs, in and out of the shower and back out into the truck.

We had some very philosophical discussion on wether doing things like going to Hensley Settlement on a cold rainy day adds new dimensions to your life or simply makes you miserable for 4 hours of your life. If I would find it more enjoyable to spend my evening in a coffee shop, why wouldn’t I just do that? Or do I miss something important when I think like that? We agreed that we can all choose to enjoy our evening even if we’d enjoy other things more but that doesn’t really answer the question.

All that aside, Hensley Settlement is quite fascinating both historically and in simple beauty. The thick fog gave us an eerie beauty that one only experiences occasionally.

We picked apples off of 100 year old trees.

And this was my favorite. I am totally fascinated by old quilts. More than anything else they seem to hold the stories of the generations before.

And so now I think of the things this evening has brought to me. Besides the apples and the quilts, I chewed on a sassafrass stick (it tasted like chai tea)and  I learned that jewelweed is a cure for poison ivy.  After seeing the graves of ten children, all from the same family, I have a renewed appreciation for the hardships of the pioneer life.

We gave up on the picnic supper though, and came home to eat sandwiches and drink hot chocolate in our warm, lighted house. And because of my mixed up values I ate a chicken salad sandwich made with sourdough whole wheat bread and carefully crafted hot chocolate with cocoa powder and coconut oil and then finished up with half a piece of pecan pie made with high fructose corn syrup.


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