Excerpted from Appalachia by Edward Abbey, ©1970:
Through town and into the hills, I’d follow a certain road for about seven miles until I came to a church and a graveyard on top of a tall hill. (I worked there once, tending that graveyard and the dead, firing the furnace in the church on winter Sunday mornings, mowing the lawns in spring and summer, me the sexton, best job I ever had, that rich grass, that meditation, those ghosts that haunt the human mind, that deep dark dank earth rich in calcium, those lonely clouds with rosy bottoms drifting pensively on the horizon for a while after sundown, inviting questions, when it was time to go home.)
Time to go home. From the top of the hill you can look down into a long emerald valley where a stream meanders back and forth in lazy loops through overgrazed pastures in which cows drift along as slowly as clouds. All facing in the same direction. Beyond the end of that particular valley, in the woods and submarginal cornfields that lay beyond, was my home.
You go down into the valley, an easy, pleasant sort of walk, past the little farms, barns, tile springhouses, pickup trucks, hayrakes and mowing machines, until you come to Crooked Creek, then take a red-dog road under a railroad trestle through a tunnel in the woods. I call it a tunnel because the road is so narrow and winding that the trees on either side interlace their branches overhead, forming a canopy that in winter looks like a network of fine cracks in a plaster ceiling, and in spring and summer like an underwater vision of translucent green, and in the fall, naturally, like the scales of a fire dragon. From shady green to dying flame.
At the far end of the living tunnel stood the house. An austere clapboarded farmhouse, taller than wide when seen from the road, it had filigreed porchwork and a steep-pitched roof with lightning rods pointing straight up at the sun or stars. In winter you’d see smoke winding out of the chimney and amber lamps burning behind the curtains of the windows.
Slinking toward me across the damp grass would come a familiar dog, older, more arthritic than before. Too timid to growl, too shy to bark, she still remembered me. Her job was to guard those doors that in nearly thirty years had never been locked. Nobody even knew if there was a key.
I just love the way he writes. I’ve got a couple of his books in my queue right now.