The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

November 25, 2012

Memories come in all shapes, sizes

Chris Ellis
For The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — This past week I had reservations for a mini-vacation in a one-room cabin in the mountains situated high atop the Gauley River. The cabin sat overlooking a fine forested vista and was very private.  Although I never read the brochure for the cabin, I can only imagine it read something like this.

“With exquisite mountain views and locations just minutes from a National Park, our cabin allows you to take in a true mountain experience. Sit on your deck and gaze out at blue, misty mountains or immerse yourself in wilderness hiking, rafting, horseback riding and hunting or fishing. It’s all here for you! For a getaway that feels secluded but is still near great restaurants, entertainment and outdoor activities, look no further than our cabin. Our goal is to make your trip as special and comfortable as possible with warm hospitality and amazing amenities. Convenient to everything with family attractions, stores, specialty craft shops and plenty of restaurants. The cabin brings you the ultimate in selection and quality for every vacationer wishing to discover the magic of the Appalachian Mountains.”

We spent most of the week simply relaxing and enjoying the slow pace of mountain living. From the window of the cabin, we watched new days being born and the frost on the leaves of the forest floor sparkle from the day’s first rays of sun. The sun provided light and warmth in the cabin and was a simple gift we did not take for granted.

We too witnessed from the cabin windows, the long shadows of the trees slowly shrinking as the sun retreated behind the far mountain’s ridge as the chilled air rushed in signifying darkness was near.

In the long days afield, we observed nature not as a spectator looking on, but as a participant in the natural world. Perched high on a knoll and camouflaged by the understory of an old growth forest, we saw first-hand the interaction of the natural world and its inhabitants who call the woodlands their home. We were granted a front row seat to the show and with heightened awareness to our surroundings, we heard and smelled the grandeur that only the mountains of West Virginia can provide.

Crows called, chipmunks scurried, squirrels barked, turkeys scratched and deer browsed within sight of our little cabin.  The animals of the forest were entertainment and we thoroughly enjoyed the long days we spent in their world.

The true reason for my few days off from the responsibilities of work and life was to hunt whitetail deer on my hillside farm.  It was the first week of the West Virginia buck gun season and a season that has filled my Thanksgiving week since I was a young. Although I have participated in the traditional hunt for well over 30 years, this week’s hunt was different.  Perhaps because I am older or maybe the fact that my son is of age to appreciate nature and its bounty, the time spent in the cabin was simply a new and wonderful experience. It was time well-spent helping to unlock the magic and mysteries of the natural world through the eyes of a new hunter and one I hope becomes a new chapter in the tradition.

The fact is the cabin was just a simple hunting blind in the woods. Regardless, the memories were large enough to fill any cabin described in the lofty text of a brochure for a faraway vacation destination and as grand as any mini-vacation before. For that, I am truly thankful.