The chill of winter has finally set in. The last couple of weeks of January and into the first few weeks of March are when the mercury shrivels here. It keeps me inside sitting in front of the fire and I think about how much the landscape has changed in my lifetime. The barn in tonight’s feature was still in decent shape when I was a kid. And there was more like it scattered across the mountains. You couldn’t really drive into town without seeing cattle out in field. There was property that kept goats and they were always seen standing on narrow ledges near the main highway. I have harvested feed corn from the parking lot of what is now an abandoned Dollar General store. There are houses and driveways in places where sorghum once grew tall enough to hide the view of the forest. Most of the side roads were single lane and the ones that were paved were paved with “Blacktop”. The asphalt mix has a high concentration of tar and even in the relatively mild West Virginia summer the roads got soft enough that we could grind the heal of our feed into road and leave a mark. I remember seeing cigarettes sold out of a vending machine for a quarter per pack. They operated by dropping the coin into a slot and pulling out a silver knob until there was click and the product fell put of the bottom. I grew up with the yearly ritual of harvesting firewood from a tree that was felled in the previous year but today I can walk up to the gas stove and have a fire at the push of a button and in some homes that can even done with a voice control. Flames in my fireplace flicker and dance as I stare into the photo of the old barn and listen to the echoes in my mind.
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