Thursday 18th September. Pleasant Shade, Tennessee USA

I've been here in Pleasant Shade for six nights now, and the days have just flown by. Every morning I wake up more regenerated than the day before. It's not that I've been lounging around either, in fact I'm up at six oi'clock every morning. Glenn has recently bought a couple of rental houses that need to be smartened up, so I've been helping him with that; painting, replacing rotten timber, and even some demolition- my favourite! The weather has been perfect every day; fine and warm, never above about eighty-five degrees. Shirley has been away since Tuesday, so Glenn and I spend our evenings sitting on the verandah, drinking Bud Light and telling wild tales of our youth. All my stories are made up, but I think some of Glenn's are true!

Glenn and I, looking like two coal miners after demolishing a chimney! Harmony Hills.

I've been busy putting the finishing touches on my itinerary for the next twenty days, and am starting to look at what I'm going to get up to in eastern Canada. Of course, it'll be getting fairly chilly in Canada by October, but I should be okay- I'm still carrying all the thermal gear that I didn't use in Alaska! Tomorrow night could be my last day in Pleasant Shade, or maybe the next night or maybe the next. I've lined up hosts for most of the next twenty days, but nothing till Monday. I'm enjoying having my own room, and even though I know I have so many people to visit in such a short time, the thought of packing up the ol' backpack and hitting the road just isn't motivating me.

The home at night. Glenn's unusual coffee table, made from the roots of a tree.

This place is really beautiful. When Glenn and Shirley bought the 150 acre block six years ago, it was completely overgrown. The old timber cabin was hidden under dense scrub. Slowly but surely, working mainly on weekends, they cleared around the cabin. They fully renovated it inside, but still had only an outside toilet. When the cabin was finally liveable, Glenn and Shirley moved here and took up residence, naming their little haven Harmony Hills. I have the feeling that Harmony Hills has been a work in progress ever since. They've cleared and lawned such a huge yard, it takes Glenn eight full hours to mow! The old cemetery, which wasn't even visible when they arrived, is now a neat and tidy resting place for the dozen or so souls who call it home. Lastly, my hosts have built themselves a beautiful log cabin *and when I say they built it themselves, I mean they built it themselves, down to the unique coffee table and the bathroom vanity made from a converted antique chest of drawers*. Their neighbour Uncle Buck brought over his gang of workers and fenced Harmony Hills in two days, only charging Glenn and Shirley for materials. How's that for Southern neighbourliness!

If the smell of hewn pine greets you at the door
If the big red barn glows in the morning rays
If the neighbour's shiny black cow is grazing through the fence

If the Bud Light flows sweeter than mother's milk
If you're leaning on the balcony, and the smell of fresh baked biscuits wafts over your shoulder
If somewehere in the distance a dead branch finally breaks free and crashes to the ground

If the only words you hear are words of kindness
If you can't remember what you used to worry about
If the evening orchestra of crickets and frogs is disturbed only by the rustling of playful kittens in the shrubbery

If the fireflies flit and dive like embers on a warm breeze
If jets blink silently far above in the night sky
If you tilt your head back and there are more stars than you could ever have imagined

Then take a deep breath and relax
You're in Harmony Hills
And you're among friends.

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