The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

In The Pines

By Bobbie Bowman Clement © 1990

Issue: September, 1990

In Rufe's pines my cousins, brother, sisters and I played. We made "skeeting boards" - a long board to sit on and a short thin board nailed across the front to put our feet on to guide it.

Like snow sleds, after a few trails over the pine needles and broom straw, they would fly down hill. The trees had been planted in rows, so if you had a slick board, you could do some curves. Occasionally, we curved into the Ivy snags and yellow jacket nests!

After climbing back up hill with our boards, we could rest while the wind blew cool breezes through the trees. Sometimes the baby lambs would follow their mothers around the rail fence and we could watch them play while we rested.

One moonlit night my brother and cousin were coming home from a church revival service through the pines. About the time they topped the draw-bar gate, the big ram gave a big baa. They ran all the way down hill to grandpa's porch without stopping.

When we were called from play, we had to go by the water spout to clean up. Grandpa had made a wooden trough for water to run through from the spring house to the yard. It was always cold.

They were good ole days.

Editor's Note... For those of you who have never experienced it, you cannot imagine what it is like in a pine thicket. The trees are close together and as they grow, they choke out all other undergrowth. The bottom limbs start to die, so as the trees grow taller, it is dark and cool under them even at mid-day in summer. Because there is little undergrowth that can survive the lack of sunshine, and because the lower limbs are dying, the ground is covered with a thick carpet of pine needles. Sometimes the carpet is six or eight inches thick or even more. You have to dig to get down to true dirt. The pine needle carpet is also very slick, almost hard to walk on. And the air smells deliciously like the evergreens growing above it.