I have never gotten over the sale of my grandfather's property on Polish Mountain. I couldn't afford to buy my cousins out. And the house would have needed upkeep. I'm no starry-eyed romantic when it comes to unattended homes in the middle of nowhere.
Still I have grieved. That's the Land of My People -- seven, eight generations -- and I've felt adrift since the property passed out of my life.
I've been looking at the real estate listings in that neck of the woods, and the prices are astonishing. I had pretty much given up ever buying even a little shard of ground in the zip code where I grew up. (It's about 100 miles from DC and Baltimore, which explains everything.)
But now I spy a glimmer of hope. It is just a glimmer.
There's a slip of land for sale by owner. Sitting right smack dab in Land of My People Central. A really small lot covered with rock and hardwood saplings, bordered by a wildlife refuge.
If I am able to acquire this land, I don't plan to build on it. I'll just take a folding chair and go sit in the woods there. It'll be the largest ancestor shrine in the region, but no one will know because I don't intend to disturb one single rock. I'm not going to hang one shiny bauble from a tree limb. I'm not going to pester the bears or the rattlesnakes. It's woods now, it'll stay woods. But it will be my woods.
Well, y'all know that buying and selling even the simplest piece of ground is a mammoth undertaking. So I'm not putting a lot of emotional investment in this. I'll go up and see it this summer, if it's still available, and then I'll decide.
Did you know that one cannot build a good ol' outhouse in PA anymore? What is the world coming to?
I'm not a huge or even medium Woody Allen fan, but this clip is short and apropos of the situation.
Say a little prayer for me to the deity of your choice. It would be wonderful to be a card-carrying hillbilly again.