The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

February 6, 2013

Home to the Hills

Riding a time machine to yesterday

By Ricky Pack

— I see evil all around every day here in Fayette County. There is so much that if one were to dwell on it, evil would consume. I choose to ignore it, and through the sins of society, I search for right, what has beauty, what the spirits of the mountains and the Holy Spirit choose to show me.

Taking a deep breath almost to the point of imploding my lungs sends me reeling. I go places, never leaving the porch. I ride a time machine of my yesteryears and visit those that went on ahead of me. I get an atomic feeling of freedom like I used to get when I rolled the throttle and felt the power of my motorcycle beneath me.

There is something definitely in the air. Could it be the wetness, or the aroma of the blue mist, or the smell of the running water rising up out of the creek, or maybe the music as the water runs over the rocks, that caress my senses? It is a high that I crave each morning when I get up.

The last few nights we have had clear skies. Talk about a night out: living here is a medicine that no doctor can prescribe. The stars are so bright when the sky is clear, that I swear when I shut my eyes my very soul floats above the porch. I have been around the world and seen stars in many hemispheres, but none were so bright, so clear, so close or so pure.

I wonder how Pop knew it was time to “git to the house” while plowing the field into the night. He didn’t have a wrist watch, had a couple pocket watches that were for special occasions, so how do you think he knew to put up the horses and go to the house?

Just like Grandma, how did she know when to start supper so that Pop had a hot supper waiting on him when he sat down at the table?

I believe they were in tune with God, earth, stars, skies, and the seasons. I believe they were close relatives with the Mountain Spirit, and Mother Nature. I know that their hearts were created like two Stradivarius violins crafted from the same heartwood, fine-tuned by angels. I don’t believe there are many that can say that today.

I see small tell tales that spring is creeping in. Have you noticed that it stays light a little bit longer these days?

When the temperature outside is 45 and above the honey bees start flying. They aren’t starting to work the blossoms yet. They are taking their cleansing flight. This is a flight where they fly out, go potty and then get back to the hive. The excitement of working with my bees again this year is building up as each day passes.

Every time I think of bees I remember a story Pop used to tell us. In the old days beekeepers didn’t buy bees. They simply hunted for them. My grandfather could track a bee from the creek all the way to its hive. I am sure you find that hard to believe, but bees fly straight when they are going back to the hive. He would follow a bee and find the hive. Then he would cut the tree down, cut out the section with the colony in it, close up the holes then take it home.

Another way he would get a hive of bees was to catch a swarm. If you have ever heard a swarm of bees, you know how loud they are. Lo and behold, in the big tree right behind the house, a swarm of bees landed. They landed way, way up in that old tree.

Pop got the grand idea to fix a bushel basket on the end of a hoe handle. Then he somehow convinced my sweet grandmother to hold that hoe handle with the wobbly bushel basket fixed on it underneath the swarm. Pop climbed up on the tallest ladder he had, shook the branch as hard as he could.  Most of the bees missed the bushel basket and landed smack dab on my grandmother, all to Grandma’s surprise.

Pop said she went running down the road just a-screamin’ and a-hollerin’, tearing her clothes off, and she was “naked as a blue jay” before she got a hundred yards down the road. Pop would always tell that story smiling like a jackass with a mouth full of briars.

Fifty years later whenever he told that story Grandma was still not a happy granny.

(Pack may be contacted at Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to