The Laughing Cabin is an interesting place and where many things happen during the course of the average day. Not only do my husband and I live at The Laughing Cabin, but we operate a family business on our property, too.
A typical weekday starts around 6:00 a.m. for hubby and around 7:00 am for me. We try to wrap things up by dinner time, but it would not be unusual to find us both working until well after dark.
My morning commute to work is approximately thirty feet and leads from the back door to the office door which is located in a separate building on our property. My sister — who commutes 2 hours one way to her job near Atlanta — teases me about how good I have it. She is often stuck in traffic jams and has been involved in several serious car accidents over the years that have very nearly taken her life. In 2014, she was stranded in her vehicle for 27 hours during that infamous Snowmaggedon weather event that gridlocked the interstates surrounding Atlanta for several days.
I can see why my sister thinks that I’ve got it made, but it might surprise you to know that walking that short distance back and forth each day has not been without its own set of adventures. When you live out in the mountains surrounded by all kinds of wildlife and unexpected changes in the weather, thirty feet can some days seem like a mile.
I’ve had my share of days of being bombarded by hornets, bees and yellow jackets, for instance. They sometimes make their way into the office, and then my time is spent dancing around with a fly swatter or a broom to chase them out. My favorites are the carpenter bees that make their first appearance in early spring. They never really bother anyone, but their buzzing is loud and distracting — and they are very curious. They challenge anyone who passes through their self-imposed no-fly zone — which means they like to come out to investigate during my comings and goings. I consider them to be my airborne escorts.
There are also days when an injured bird catches my eye. We have a big, glass window above our living room, and the birds will fly into it, head first. Most of the time, they are temporarily stunned and will usually snap out of it after a few minutes and fly away. So, when I find one as I cross the yard to the office, I usually hold it in my hands and pray over it for a few minutes until it begins to come out of its stupor. They will sit in my hands long enough to be able to take pictures, and I’ve shared some of those in my Facebook posts.
One little bird, soon after it revived, flew out of my hand and then came back a few minutes later and sat on my shoulder as if to thank me. It was such a sweet moment. That’s why I take time to look for fallen birds each day — to keep other animals from harming them while they are temporarily unable to fly.
Walking those thirty feet during the summer comes with its own set of obstacles. I usually have to examine the doorways to look for European hornets and barn spiders. The barn spiders (also known as orb weavers) are harmless, but they weave webs so quickly that you find yourself walking through thick strands of webbing that weren’t there only a few minutes before.
The hornets are a different matter. Their sting is quite painful. They will come to the doorways during the night — attracted by the porch lights — and will fall asleep as the temperature falls and secure themselves to the doorways. When the door is opened, the hornet will fall — usually on your head.
One morning, a hornet had apparently dropped from a doorway and fell inside the back of my shirt — sandwiched between my sweatshirt and t-shirt. I managed to walk to the office and back, and was standing at the kitchen sink before I felt the stinger going into my back. Good thing I was in the privacy of my own home because I couldn’t rip my shirts off fast enough. After being stung twice, in this manner, I now take time to inspect the doorways, especially on chilly mornings.
Most recently, I was caught in a scuffle between my dogs and a raccoon that made the mistake of eating out of the dogs’ food bowl. The dogs won, but they herded the raccoon right toward me during the chase, and it was all I could do to get out of the way. That’s what kind of a heart-racing adventure you can have in a space of only thirty feet.
The encounter with the raccoon was nothing compared to the day I was trapped inside the office by a black bear. He was attracted by the smell of our trash cans which were kept, at that time, along the side of our office building. I walked past them each time I traveled from house to office and office to house. We have since moved the trash cans to an enclosed space so that the bears are no longer tempted, but you can understand why I keep my dogs by my side. Though I may travel only a matter of steps each day to work and back, those thirty feet are never void of wildlife activity, as you can now see.
Weather plays another factor in my daily commute to work. On snowy days, I wear ice cleats to keep from slipping and sliding my way up and down the porch decks and steps. On chilly days, my foot fashion of choice is warm, fuzzy house shoes with thick socks. On summer days, flip fops or sandals. On rainy days, I scoot with a polka-dotted umbrella. At night, I use a flashlight and scan for gleaming eye shine in the dark — hoping there is not a bear nearby and seeing how fast I can run along the dimly lit pathway at the first sound of a twig snap. It’s only thirty feet, but when my imagination is running wild, it can seem like a marathon.
Some of my wildlife encounters have been comical. Some have been downright scary. All of them have added to the sense of adventure and wonder of living in the mountains and having the privilege of working from home. No, I would not trade my morning commute even for an hour stuck in gridlock city traffic. I’ll take my chances with the bears.
Until next time! ~ Susan