Home Page |  Writings Index

Good Mountain Morning
By: Doug Bittinger - January 12, 2005

The fragrance of wood smoke scents the crisp January air as the rosy glow of dawn creeps across clouds over the mountain top, raked by the bare branches of winterized hardwood trees.  I grab another armload of firewood to carry it inside the workshop and lay it on the warming rack above the woodstove that heats the workshop.  A bright fire is blazing inside the stove.  It's a good start.  That will soon take the edge off the chill in the shop.

English MountainI pause to look out across my "front yard" which slopes down the face of Piney Mountain.  The town of Newport TN, a collection of specks of light from here, occupies the valley floor.  On the other side English Mountain looms, shaped like a great sperm whale swimming lazily through the grey morning mists.

If, five years ago, anyone had told me that I'd be starting my days chopping and carrying firewood in order to stay warm while I worked I'd have told them they were nuts.  We lived in the bustling metropolis of St.  Louis then.  I had a small workshop out behind our house - with a propane furnace.  We had an eighth of an acre city lot, and it seemed like a lot of space at the time.  Our house was a comfortable two bedroom bungalow; nothing elaborate or pretentious, but quite nice.  Marie worked as an Administrative Assistant, I did my woodworking.

Then God put the idea in our heads that it was time for a change.  It seemed rash, but it seemed right too.

We gave away or sold most of what we owned - except the tools - in a matter of days.  Even our home sold to the second looker on the second day it was on the market, despite our real estate agent's desperate pleas that it was way over-priced.  We knew what we needed to get to finance the move… and we got it.  With no quibbling too, she just said, "I'll take it." and the deal was done.  Another sign that we were doing the right thing.

We ended up where we are by some intervention as well.  We were looking for something completely different.  We looked at a lot of possibilities.  Only one was a serious contender, and that wasn't ideal.  Then, on a whim we stopped by this place because the listing said it had a workshop.  Here we met Earl, the property owner.  He was perfectly willing to answer all of our questions, show us anything we wanted to see, explain anything we didn't understand.  This man of seventy some odd years even walked the entire property line of a nearly five acre mountainside tract with us.  On some of the steeper slopes, I was lagging behind, huffing and puffing.  Earl strode on ahead not at all bothered by the terrain, as if he'd done it all his life.  Because he had.

Earl changed our minds about what we were looking for.  Not because he was a slick salesman, which he wasn't.  But because our encounter helped us see the advantage in doing what was needed when it was needed, not when it was convenient or comfortable.

Earlier a chance conversation with a clerk at Wal-Mart led us to the Chamber Of Commerce, seeking a map of county roads.  Here we met Tom Rosberg who has proven invaluable in this venture.  Among his good deeds was to hook us up with L.C Gregg.

We needed a bank that was willing to take it on faith that two middle aged people moving from out of state, with no jobs, little savings or property, but lots of desire could open a new business and make it work.  Most wouldn't.  L.C Gregg did.  His bank granted us the mortgage to buy this property, once we made the decision.

Marie and I came back here that evening to watch the sun go down over English Mountain from a spot we felt would be a good place to build our house.  It was the most spectacular sunset we'd ever seen.  That's when we knew this was right.  God had said so.

We still haven't built our house.  We live in a single-wide mobile home that came with the property.  But we plan to build, one day, when we can afford it.  In the mean time, our bills are paid, we're warm and dry, and we have food on the table when it's time to eat.  That's all we ask.

I drew a deep breath of the crisp morning air, and went inside with the wood.  I love it here, you couldn't drag Marie or I either one back to life in a city.

The fire blazed, the shop was warming nicely.  Time to go in for breakfast.

* * * * *

[Click Here] for an index of all available articles.