Monday, December 30, 2013

Sunday Morning

Knightley and the chickens
We had a hard rain Saturday night and into Sunday morning here on the mountain. Since dogs still have to be walked no matter what the weather, I wrapped up in my knitted hat, alpaca cowl and ugly but heavy orange and blue coat with the hood. The coat is warm and water repellent, and the ugly orange color hopefully alerts deer hunters to my presence on the road. It also has reflectors on the front and back for my early morning and late evening wandering.

Despite the warm wrappings I got soaked walking Emma and time didn't allow for me to get all the way to the chicken house. Every morning my father comes for his medicine, and I'm never quite sure when he will show up. Yesterday he was here early so I was able to get dressed and make the morning church service at Mayberry. Which meant I was slipping around the chicken yard in my best church clothes and trying not to have to kneel down to open the pop hole!

Mayberry Presbyterian Church is just down the Parkway about three miles. Some of my earliest memories involve that church. My mother was the pianist there when I was very small. I remember seeing her at the piano from my place in one of the pews. I also remember being taken out of church one morning by her because I was acting up. I don't remember the consequences of my behavior but I bet I didn't misbehave again!

The little sanctuary looks much like it did when I was small. There is a wooden cross on the wall above the pulpit, which is on a raised platform. The piano is still in the same place. The walls are painted green and the arched windows are trimmed in white. This is one of the rock churches made famous by the ministry of Robert Childress and his grandson Stewart is now the minister at Mayberry and Bluemont, another of the Childress rock churches. Mayberry was an existing church when Robert Childress became a minister and one of my great-great-aunts, Eloise Newell, came here as one of the missionaries at a Presbyterian mission school involved with the church. She married my grandfather's uncle.

Because of the bad weather and people traveling because of Christmas, the congregation was small on Sunday. I knew almost everyone there. Many of the members are newcomers to Meadows of Dan and I imagine most of the congregation that were there when I was small have either moved on or passed away. During the 70s and 80s many of the young people, including myself, had to move away to find jobs. The members of the community that I see most often these days are retirees that have come here from elsewhere. Not a bad thing, of course, and nothing new to a community that was once isolated. When the city of Danville built a dam on Dan River new people came and then the Parkway brought more newcomers. Since the 1960s people have been building vacation homes around Meadows of Dan and retiring here.

I took a lazy day off yesterday to work with Knightley on his obedience and take a nap with him and Emma. Later in the day the rain stopped and I walked with my boy up Concord Road to do the evening chicken chores. The sky was overcast after a brief stretch of sunshine. The chickens crowded the fence, wanting out to play, but it was so wet and muddy after the rain I didn't want to try to pull briers. So I took Knightley inside the shop after we fed the chickens and we watched the sky change out the window and enjoyed the spectacle of the chickens milling around and getting ready to go to bed. They crowd against the side of the coop and mutter among themselves, then finally one of them struts up the chicken ladder and in through the pop hole. That starts a little parade of fluffy chickens up into the coop, one by one, until they all disappear into the dark comfort of their little house. When I go to close up their little door and the windows, the chickens are all settled onto their roosts. Knightley comes in with me and sits patient by the door as I tend to the chores, although he would love to root in the feeder and steal laying mash. Both dogs are very good about the chickens and Knightley sometimes helps me herd the flock back inside during mad escape attempts.

Our walk home is peaceful. Dinner is a bit of beef bought at the local store, green beans cooked all day on the woodstove and a portion of an enormous sweet potato given to me by a friend. We settle into a quiet Sunday evening with contented dogs draped across the floor and a purring cat in a chair. I knit, play a game with a friend online and then knit some more while Knightley sleeps with his chin on my ankle.


Virginia said...

I wonder how many of your 'city' readers know what a poop hole/door is? I had to smile when I read that. This summer we built a new coop and I added a cutting board for poop door. I attached a rope to the handle, fed the rope through the eye hooks on the ceiling ending in the small storage area. I can open and close the door just by pulling on the rope, no need to go into the coop area. My grandma used to have Buffs. Wish it was raining here. We still have leaves on the trees and all the hills are still the brown of summer.
Hope your day is filled with good things.

Aida said...

Here's a city girl that doesn't know what a pop hole/door is. Please enlighten us! Leslie, I just love reading your stories. I can just hear your voice as I read and can imagine the activity. Thanks for sharing your little piece of Meadows of Dan with us!


Anonymous said...

I so enjoyed your blog post..Please do it more frequently..Happy New Year My Friend..

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Hope you had a Merry Christmas, Leslie, and are expecting a safe, sane New Year.

Leslie Shelor said...

The pophole is the little door that the chickens come out into the pen. Not sure why it's called that, except that the chickens pop out when it's opened!