This is the time of year we’d visit Cousin Kathleen, a tiny, self-sufficient, little mountain woman. The first time Bud and I went to visit at her little house clinging to the side of a mountain in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Moutains we were lingering over coffee at the breakfast table overlooking her garden when she spotted a fat groundhog eating her tomatoes. Without a word, she jumped up, grabbed a 357 pistol off the top of her refrigerator and flew out the back door firing a shot. The ground hog escaped, but she blew the tomato plant away! She was quite disappointed, since she’d been planning to eat him. Later that morning, we caught a couple of trout in Little Wilson Creek, Just down from her house. Bud usually practiced catch and release, but she was outraged at the thought. Rushing us home, by ten- thirty she had cooked and trout eaten them all herself, horrified to think they might have been wasting their afternoon back in the creek.
That afternoon, we had to go see the cemetery. Cousin Kathleen proudly confided she “ran” the cemetery. Not sure what that meant, I had to ask.
“I am in charge of the man who mows. I keep up with the money. I decide where folks get plots. I am the one to call in case of emergencies.”
I wanted to ask what kind of emergencies cemeteries might have, except for the rapture, of course, but kept my mouth shut.
One morning, Cousin Kathleen took us out to see the countryside. Deep in the hills, she had Bud whip into a drive. “I used to work with the woman who lives here. Come on. I want you to meet her.” Uncomfortable at dropping in on unknown mountaineers, we dragged a little getting out. A man in overalls sat on the porch.
“Where’s Molly? I sed to work with her.” Cousin Kathleen greeted him.
Clearly anxious to see her friend, Cousin Kathleen demanded, “Gone where? When will she be back?”
“She’s dead. She ain’t gonna be back.”
“Oh well, see you later, then.” She scurried back to the car with us right her. “Well, I sure never heard she was dead!” I kind of thought she hadn’t by that time.
We went fishing that afternnoon. For dinner that night, we had fresh-caught trout, green beans and potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers fresh from the garden. For dessert, we had fresh rhubarb cobbler. What a wonderful dinner and day of memories!