When I was a child, my grandparents owned a forty acre farm in Eastern Kentucky. It was in Knipp Hollow (prounounced hollar). Morehead was the closest town. My grandparents owned the old farmhouse that was down by the main road, at the mouth of the Hollar. My Uncle had been given a piece of land on top of the mountain (just a large hill, but as a child, walking up the gravel driveway to the top in the summer, it was a mountain), and my parents had carved out a terrace a little ways up the hill and also had access to a large field down by the creek where we planted a big vegetable garden every summer.
Our family came and went from the missionfield, but two different times, when we were stateside, we lived in the little trailer perched on the side of the mountain, surrounded by pine trees. There were giant pine trees that grew all over the hillside in front of our home, so tall you strained your neck to see all the way to the top. I was told that my great grandfather had planted those trees. Then the hillside behind our home was covered with smaller pinetrees, all about the size of beautiful Christmas trees. My parents told me they planted those trees the year I was born and I felt the kinship of being the same age, having the same birthday as those beautiful trees. I would often scurry up the embankment behind our trailer and burrow myself in the trees. Invisible to the world, in my own little nest.
Our trailer was a singlewide (none of those bourgeois doublewides for us). It was white and yellow and green. Old. Creaky. A stove pipe stuck up from the roof and there was alo a large onion-shaped oscillating vent, meant to keep things cooler in the summer, but far too inadequate for the job. In the winter my dad would stuff insulation up in the vent in order to make everything as air tight as possible. He would cover the old one-pane windows with thick plastic sheeting, held in place with silver duct tape, and our dear old Ben Franklin wood stove would work tirelessly all winter to keep us warm. To this day, when I smell woodsmoke, I’m instantly transported back to that old trailer.
When I was a baby my parents had built a large covered porch that ran almost the entire length of the trailer. It was made with two by fours, and thin logs I presume my dad had taken from the woods. The roof was made out of green fiberglass roof panels. Translucent enough that a beautiful green light came through. There was a railing around the entire porch that was filled in with what looked a bit like plastic coated chicken wire. All the spaces were filled with wire because apparently, when I was a baby, the porch was my favorite place to play. Because the trailer was on the side of a steep hill, the porch hung out into the air and there was room under the porch for kids to play if they felt like it. Many a summer day found me under that porch, digging around in the cool dirt, making fancy mud pies with my little tin dishes.
The trailer had three bedrooms. A separate room each for me and my brother on one end of the trailer and a room for my parents on the other end of the trailer. The rooms were so small. My brother and I each had a bunk bed and a dresser in our rooms. I had enough space to open my drawers and a narrow path from the doorway to my little corner closet, and that was it. It was truly a bed-room. A room for my bed. Nothing else. When I played in my room, I sat on top of my bright patchwork quilt on my bed to play. There was no floor room. I had one window that looked out onto the hill rising almost straight up behind us, only feet away, covered with all my pine trees. Not much of a view, but it felt cozy to me.
The walls of the trailer were all dark, fake wood paneling. Just google images of “wood paneling 70s and 80s” and you will see exactly what I mean. The old shag green carpet had been torn up and replaced with a beautiful beige, but really you could hardly see the carpet because the furniture covered everything. The living room was tiny but it had a large couch, a buffet with a large tv covering half of it, a big bookshelf that sat on top of a small cupboard, a dining room table and four chairs. The next room was the kitchen. Yellow linoleum. Yellow fridge. Brown wooden cabinets and yellow formica counters. The woodstove took up half of the floor space of the kitchen. Then down a narrow hallway, made even more narrow by all the coats hanging up on hooks on one side, a bathroom just big enough to hold a yellow tub, more yellow formica, yellow linoleum, and an old washer and dryer. You could only access the washer if you went all the way into the bathroom and closed the door. Then finally my parents room at the end.
During my childhood I lived in twelve different homes. The trailer was probably the most humble one, but it’s the home I remember the fondest. Cozy, warm, bright and cheerful. Tucked safely in the woods, deep in the hollar, surrounded by tall hills and trees, a creek at the bottom of the hill. I count myself a rich woman to have had that as part of my childhood.