No matter where you live, access to water is imperative. My ancestors followed the mountain ridges from North Carolina into Virginia, looking for good farm land and ready access to water. Our little Valley must have seemed like paradise, tucked between three mountain peaks with fertile ground and fresh water running down from higher elevations.
The temperatures were ideal not only for farming, but also for just living. It never got terribly hot, and even though the winters could get quite cold, the creeks generally did not freeze due to the fast moving water.
With the exception of some of the isolated small ‘hollers’ everyone lived in close proximity to the creek. There was an abundance of natural springs from which people drew their water for cooking and bathing, eventually piping it directly into the house. It was unusual for the water pipes to freeze during really cold days, but it did happen on occasion.
Houses cropped up on one side of the creek or the other. Those houses where the creek ran between the road and the house, bridges were built to cross the creek to the house. What started as simple foot bridges would eventually become sturdy concrete bridges, able to support cars. The only exception was the main road through the Valley. Given the way the creeks ran, none of those houses required crossing the creek.
If you are a follower, you already know our fresh water streams provided an abundance of fish. The first day of fishing season was a big deal which you can read about here. Even after the fervor of that first day, people who lived in the Valley always fished. My favorite meal was always rainbow trout, dusted with corn meal, flour, and salt and pepper then gently fried in a cast iron skillet.
As kids, the creek was an integral part of our ‘playground’. We would collect periwinkles off the rocks, catch crawldads (crayfish), wade, fish, float on inner tubes, and swim. No wonder we were tough, those mountain streams were COLD! I have written about my memories of living by the creek many times before as it was a huge part of our lives. After a long day at play, there is nothing like going to sleep to the sound of moving water, wheter it be creek or ocean.
Tomorrow, I will be writing about the swimmin’ holes and learning to swim. It was quite the adventure.