In Pensive Mood and Solitude

Wordsworth uses the phrase “in vacant or pensive mood.” He wanders with the daffodils when the mood strikes. My thoughts have turned to my old home place, a large, five-bedroom brick home built on a hillside in the Appalachian foothills of Harrison County, just outside Bowerston, Ohio. The home sits in the center of six acres, an old apple orchard. Outside that plot and ringing it is land owned by a local brick company. Earlier on there were dairy farms. In the far distance as a kid I could see the S-curve on the Panhandle Division of the Pennsy railroad. At night on schedule a flourescent passenger train wound through the Conotton Valley. As did the coal trains on the Wheeling and Lake Erie and Nickel Plate lines. Eighteen miles to the east lay the Hanna coal mines around Cadiz. Over in Scio there was a world-reknowned pottery. We were all company towns in those days. While my elders and relatives made and extracted things from the clay earth, I wondered my hillside where I learned the peace of solitude. And the essential company of dogs.

Thomas Wolf says “You can’t go home again.” Well, I did. I returned to the old place. You can go home again. It was the great pleasure of my life. The acre of lawn I once mowed with an 18-inch push Lawn Boy as a teen, I mowed again with a riding Snapper mower. To heat the old place I obtained an old Ford tractor and manure spreader for a trailer. Weekly I ventured into the woods for fuel. Came very close to cutting off a toe or two. I loved being alone in the woods, but on that occasion I shouldn’t have been. God gave my toes a narrow escape. Harry and I cut some wood together.

Harry came to my aid often — especially on a Christmas Day when our well pump broke. Harry knows everything about how to make things work — especially friendship and helping others.

Back then I took a shot at politics, but chose the wrong party.

I always walked the woods. Later, I cycled the roads where I had to climb steeply to Hanover Ridge, Rumley Ridge and over on to Deersville Ridge. But there were boat rides on Tappan Lake, too, with Danny and Pat from New Philadelphia.

The memories, the love, the friendships abide with me always. These few recollections do not begin to tell the stories of friendships I had in Harrison County,where everyone knows the worth of solitude and company as well. Best ever.

David Milliken

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