Monday, September 18, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Wayne discovered the magical kingdom that is Pocahontas County when his ‘blood brother’ moved to Seebert and invited him for a summer visit. In taking the 3-4 hour Greyhound bus trip from Charleston to Hillsboro the adventure was on! The boys camped on an island in the Greebrier River, fished off the cat rock, caught and sold bait for extra cash, and roamed the countryside – including frequent hikes across the low-water bridge into Watoga State Park territory. They were Tom and Huck building memories to last a lifetime.
Watoga was the one topic GF was not ever shy about discussing. Our dating phone calls were limited to 20 minutes and his teenage escapades there with Tom were an easy, frequent way to fill his side of the conversation. Stood to reason that Pocahontas County would be his first choice for vacations as an adult; and his first real vacation – apart from family visitations – was our honeymoon. Yep, Watoga State Park – no other consideration. We stayed in Cabin #32, a tiny, rustic one-room suite secluded behind a fence of rhododendron at the far end of Pine Run. We arrived about 1:30 a.m. to find the porch light on and the key in the door. (Such innocent times – last week keys were picked up in a sealed envelope at the office bulletin board, but that would still be too risky for most city life.)
I’ve now lost track of how many times we’ve stayed at Watoga. We’ve shared the park with friends and family on several vacations; one time we stayed two weeks (one with our children and another with the Wayne’s whole family); three of our children honeymooned there as well. So, yes, the Park has claimed a fair chunk of family history. We’re back to going it alone most of the time lately, but we’re never alone. We clearly see our children’s footprints (as toddlers, teens and twenties) on cabin porches, in the picnic area and along the trails. A screen door banging revives scenes of bologna sandwich lunches, evening popcorn and songfests. We meet familiar spirits in the morning fog that hangs on the lake, across the many footbridges, up on the lookout towers and along the wooded pathways.
Watoga cabins were built in the 30’s as a CCC project. No two are alike and they are marvels of craftsmanship. Renovations – the necessary bane of time – including new kitchen appliances, showers and furniture change the complexion somewhat. They’ve kept as many of the wormy chestnut tables as possible, the new curtains are nice, the queen-sized beds are an improvement, but the new seating is a bust. (When bones get old one gets whiny about uncomfortable seating, I guess – save me an old rocking chair, please.)
Changes notwithstanding, Watoga is ever enchanting. Every year as September approaches the wood smoke wafting down the hollows calls us back. As we pull into the park entrance we take the five-mile course through the tunnel of trees edged with laurel and crisscrossed by a rocky waterway, breathe deeply of the mountain air, sigh our souls’ renewal and let the world roll off out shoulders. We soak it all up – be it for a few hours or a few days – then with kindred sigh and misty eyes we drive back through that same tunnel thanking the Lord for yet another sweet honeymoon.
Love to go - hate to leave - keep the magic tucked inside ... 'til next time.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Once upon a time - long, long ago…

…on a Sunday morning I decided to drop back a few pews and join a young woman (9 years my senior) who took warm and friendly interest in me. Little did I realize that when I sat down beside Eva I was usurping her younger brother’s customary seat. This brother was extremely shy, but somehow gathered enough courage to keep his spot on the pew by sitting next to me.

The rest, as they say, is history – I was 15, he was 16 and we’ve been sharing a pew (from there to Florida, to Pennsylvania and back to West Virginia) ever since. Three and a half years after that simple beginning, on September 2, 1963, we walked down the aisle between those first pews as bride and groom.

A few years ago, at a 50th anniversary party, Wayne asked my Uncle Corley what he most remembered about his and Aunt Justine’s garden wedding. Uncle Corley looking far away with misty eyes and sweet smile, said simply, “It was a great day!” My sentiments exactly! It hardly seems possible that Wayne and I have been married 43 years…and I can barely recall a time when I was not his wife. Our life has been so blessed and I thank God daily for our “happily ever after” romance.

With fiendish glee, Wayne tells our “how we met” story as if I were the spider than sat down beside her to lure him into my web. Truth is I did not know (or dream) that he usually sat there. But I now believe that my notion to sit by Eva and Wayne’s nerve to sit by me were, indeed, Providential – God knew I needed him!