Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sepia Saturday 201, 2013 November 2: The House at Hungry Hollow



Late I am with this Sepia Saturday offering, but when I saw the photograph of this lovely grande dame, she stirred a memory within me -- of another grande dame, different place, different time, different circumstances, but a grande dame nonetheless.





The House at Hungry Hollow,
Near Hildebrand, Oregon






 The House at Hungry Hollow

Fifty years is a long time. Too long to still be missing the House at Hungry Hollow, I say.

 When I first saw the house, she was standing as a sentinel at the edge of the meadow, ringed by juniper, fir and pine encrusted hillsides. Her eyes on the world, those large old windows that reached into her soul had been assaulted and broken by guns of errant cowboys with nothing better to do – and then on a lark by snot-nosed school boys with rocks. Even so, elegant she stood. Her paint was past peeling and there were a few sags along the roof line, but her good strong lines stood the test of the past 100 years. She wore her weathered gabled lace like an outdated, dowager crown.

My heart skipped as I first caught sight of her – a kindred spirit she was. Way out here, she seemed lost – and she seemed to have suffered a deep despairing loss. I opened the kitchen door and entered. Yes, I could feel it. She had lost her family. Laughing children were no longer running up and down the steep pitched stairs; no one came bursting through the kitchen with the morning pails of warm milk and cold fingers and noses; no smells of hot coffee and home baked bread.

She reached out to me, and I stroked the intricate carving of the old kitchen door knob. We knew, she and I, that I had found my home. New windows, new paint inside and out would be her garb, but I knew that all she really wanted was love and laughter, squealing kids, quiet evening card games, and even periodic family squabbles. These things I gave to her.

I think that she laughed when I insisted that we put in a bathroom, tucked under the stairs. She probably loved the days of yesteryear, when every Saturday night the big tub was brought in and placed next to the wood stove. The sounds of laughter and protestations must have been very different from my new fangled way of showering. The old house creaked her laughter to see me run out to the pump house in my robe to crank the water pump to life --- and then race back so I could have a good brisk shower --- only to turn off the water and race out with robe clasped tight to turn the pump off so the pressure tank didn't blow through the roof.


When the snow piled high against her sides, and the way to the kitchen door from the barn was a narrow shoveled walkway, inside we were warm and toasty from the heat radiating from the wood stoves. The simple pleasures of making popcorn, fudge and hand-cranked ice cream brought a festivity to winter nights.

For three short, wonderful years, family, friends, and neighbors wound their way through the trees to the hollow. They came for spring branding, summer haying in the meadow, evening catfish fries, and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Then one day, I told her that we had to leave. The man was following his dream to be a
veterinarian and we were moving to another state. Even though I knew it was unlikely that anyone would ever live here again, I scrubbed her walls and windows; mopped and waxed her floors for the last time. I raked the yard – it couldn't rightly be called a lawn with the succession of the spring bummer lambs and calves butting their heads up to the kitchen door for warm milk and the tawny-coated coyotes slithering across the wild grasses in early morning's half-light. Then I sat on the front steps and told her how I would miss her for all of my days. The steps squeaked their sorrow. My heart rent. I drove away through a teary blur.

And so it is, fifty years later – she is long gone, I hear –  I yet yearn for that stately old house in the hollow.

~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Now promenade on over to see the offerings of our fellow Sepians

25 comments:

  1. Oh, Joan, she was a beautiful house. I love how you personified her. I was wondering which direction she faced. The sun is directly in her face in the photo but I can't tell if it's morning, noonday, or evening. I've only lived in one home that was torn down. It was an apartment where my husband and I lived for only a year or so. She was a beautiful house, too. I understand the sadness and yearning. I wish people were more caring about old buildings.

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    1. She faced nearly due west, so the photo was taken early afternoon. She did indeed speak to me --- in a house sort of way.

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  2. Oh Joan, you brought tears to my eyes. I don't know who I felt the most sorry for, you or the house. I do hope someone else came longhand brought more love. Have you looked Google Earth or haven't you had the heart for it.

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    1. Sometimes there are tears in my eyes when I think of her. No one ever lived in the house again and she was torn down several years after we left. I have indeed googled the satellite version and the road into the hollow is slightly different and of course the new ranchy-retreat building is very different, but if I dinna look at the house site itself, it still looks much the same. Good days were spent there. Thanks for reading.

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  3. A loving tribute to the love of a house, and excellently told. The idea of "home" is undoubtedly the next basic human emotion after love of family.

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    1. Mike, thanks for the kind words. I think you are right about the emotional ties we have to "home." For me, house we called home had it's own "personality" (if you will) or perhaps "spirit" might be a better word, in my mind. Thanks for reading and understanding.

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  4. Yes, a grande dame of the best sort.

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    1. Yes, she was, even though she had seen better days when I first saw her, she still had "good bones"

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  5. A fine tribute to a fine house so eloquently written

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    1. Bob, thanks for reading and the kind words. Although she looks dilapidated and uncared for in this picture, she was indeed a fine house.

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  6. Heartbreaking Hungry Hollow.. Beautifully written.

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    1. Heartbreaking to leave, but the memories were so rich and full. Thanks for reading and enjoying this little bit of my life.

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  7. Beautiful tribute!

    Hungry Hollow - a good addition to my basic know-how of home names. Thanks.

    Hazel

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    1. Hazel, thank your for reading and enjoying. Usually I think, and have most often heard, the term "hollow" used in relation to a house or place, I usually place it in our country's southern states -- the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. I have often been curious how our house nestled in the meadow (though surrounded by hills) came by it's name. None of the old timers that I knew then could give me an answer except for "always been called Hungry Hollow." Interesting, eh?

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  8. A lovely piece of writing Joan. I’ve never felt like that about any of the many houses we’ve lived in and I’m almost sorry about that.

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed this story about one of my favorite places -- she did seem to have a sense of spirit about her. And glad, I am, that she did. Thanks for reading.

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  9. Funny how houses have that effect on us, isn't it? I still feel pangs for the house I left behind three years ago. I don't know if I'll ever feel the same way about this house I am in now.

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    1. T'is strange how certain places draw us close. Maybe it's the memories associated with a place, or perhaps the spirit of the place allows the memories to be stronger. Glad it happens. Thanks for reading.

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  10. A wonderful story about the house! Isn't it funny how we become so attached to inanimate things - giving them personalities and character. Some people might think it silly, but I don't. I remember when we bought a shiny new car, we parked the old one off to the side of the driveway and as I drove by it one day in the new car on my way into the garage, I apologized to it and told it not to worry because very soon it would have a new and exciting life because our daughter was due to get her driver's license within the week and the old car would then be hers - and I felt really good about being to be able to tell it that! And it did have a new and exciting life - several times, in fact! First one daughter, then the other, followed by my husband using it as a commuter car, and finally our son. It survived several mishaps such as a deer running out in front of it (I felt bad for the deer too, of course), and Dad backing his truck into it. It finally came to a rather ignoble end when a fence it was parked next to fell on it - but not before it had seen many exciting things along the its merry way.

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  11. That reminds me of my shock today when I discovered that a little shack, well...actually an old outhouse, that stood in a neighbors orchard has finally collapsed. It's just always been there and it made me smile. Now it's just worn out wood on the ground. Structures occupy so many places beyond just the physical land. And when they're gone they still occupy memories and it makes me sad that others will never see this silly old outhouse.

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    1. I still futz about an old, old barn that was built along side a mountain road. About a decade or so ago, the barn burned to the ground. It was a popular place for horseback rides and events, so it was indeed rebuilt. But everytime I go by the new barn, it just doesn't seem right -- it's just not the old barn that I was used to. We are strange creatures and how we feel about things, places, and such -- and each so different.

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  12. Some day, other generations will miss not knowing or seeing these old homes.
    Thanks for the story.

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    1. John, thanks for reading and enjoying this piece of my history. BTW that is a mighty fine house picture on your Google page --- and a kayak-er too. Did you happen to see my story and pictures of the kayak that my son built -- just before the house story. A sea going kayak, not white water -- tho he has one of those too. Thanks again for reading.

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  13. A lovely description of the house and your feelings for it. It's people and memories that turn houses into homes, of course.

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    1. True that people and memories make a home -- but for some reasons there are some house/homes that engage us more than others. Odd, I think. Thanks for reading, I always like the comments and it is one way I get to know the folks out in cyberspace that I will probably never meet in person. So nice to meet you, Jo.

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