Holiday wilderness

November field

November isn’t a month one typically associates with abundant sunshine; not many Thanksgivings have been as sunny as this one was. Since we weren’t celebrating until the next day, I was free to wander around and enjoy the great silence that settled over the mountain as all the roads emptied of traffic. By mid-afternoon, all one could hear were bird calls and the dried weeds rattling in the wind…

tree stand

and scattered gunshots hither and yon. Hard-core hunters must’ve gone straight from the dinner table to their backyard target ranges to begin sighting in their rifles for the opening day of regular rifle deer season on Monday. I also heard sawing and hammering from last-minute tree stand construction in the adjacent Sinking Valley. This activity, of course, continued through the weekend.

afternoon porch

Even with all that, Thanksgiving is one of the three quietest days of the year, along with Christmas and New Years’. Of course, the more Amish that settle in Sinking Valley, the quieter things should become day to day, though with an interstate and the trunk line of a railroad winding past the hollow, it might not make a huge difference even if the whole valley were Amish. I-99 didn’t exist when I was a kid, and it was still possible to believe that our semi-remote location translated into something approximating wilderness. (Indeed, my mother’s first book was titled Escape to the Mountain: A Family’s Adventures in the Wilderness.)

So it is that on this most sentimental of holidays, I like to sit out on the porch if I can, relish the silence, and imagine that I’m living “a thousand miles from nowhere,” as the old Robert Pete Williams blues song puts it — or at least back on the mountain of my childhood. Meanwhile, my brothers rented and watched the recent satirical horror movie The Cabin in the Woods. Because as everyone knows, the most ghastly horrors are always deep in the woods, never in — say — your local WalMart.

Watch on YouTube.

Posted in ,

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Great reflection, thanks for sharing. I love the quiet of Thanksgiving, and really can’t imagine wanting to participate in the frenzy of Black Friday.

    Much better to walk the woods, enjoy the quiet, and be happy that there is always the possibility of something hot to drink as I sit by the fire when I get back home.


    1. Thanks. And yes, hot beverages are key this time of year: mulled cider, hot chocolate, coffee, tea…


  2. Beautiful photos – the beauty that’s still there when the sky is grey and the light flat and vegetation bare. Pretty good words too.


    1. Thanks, Jean. I was sort of pleased with that first photo for capturing how the afternoon felt.


  3. How you must cherish your wilderness corner when you contemplate those two pinnacles of civilisation, the convenience store and the cellphone!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.