If you know me, or you have followed my writing, you know a place called Brim Hollow that has made a profound influence on my life.
It’s not just memories of my maternal grandfather, Will Herod Brim, or my grandmother, Lena Bradford Brim, but it is also the hollow itself that shaped my personality and my way of thinking.
Over the years I have returned there many times — sometimes in person, but often times in my mind.
Not so many years ago, I was on one of the many walks I have taken there. Sometimes, when I arrive at the old home place, I turn sharply up the hill through Squirrel Tail Hollow and take an ancient log road to the head of the hollow, then return by the hollow road.
On that particular day, I had taken that route and arrived halfway back down the hollow. When I stopped to rest, I drank from a spring which oozed out from under a rocky bluff. I found a place and situated myself beneath a massive oak tree. I carefully surveyed my surroundings before closing my eyes in anticipation of taking a short nap.
Before me lay a fallen tree at least 18-inches through. Its tangled roots, having let go of a soggy bank, and the limbs of the tree had caused it to rest almost parallel with ground two feet below. I estimated its trunk to be at least 30 feet in length.
When I was satisfied with my surveillance, I pulled the bill of my cap down over my eyes to doze off. Suddenly, I picked up the slightest movement out of my peripheral vision. I turned slowly to see a full-grown bobcat hop up on the fallen tree just beyond its roots. After she had taken a step or two, a kitten bounded up on the tree trunk and followed … then another … and then another.
If I could have frozen the frame on a movie camera, it would have captured the mother and her three kittens traversing the log, all in a row. The sight is indelibly printed in my mind. When she reached the first limb of the tree, she hopped down to the right and disappeared. Each kitten followed. They never knew I was there. The experience remains a priceless treasure for me.
One spring I was headed up the hollow road beyond what was once the farm-working area of barns, chicken houses, smokehouse and outhouse. My grandfather once parked his truck in a small building covered with shake shingles. I passed its remains as I ventured up the hollow on this day.
After a few hundred yards, the road turned sharply down and to the right and entered a rock, creek bed. Called “the narrow place,” the creek bed passes between craggy bluffs before the road turns sharply up and to the left. I crossed another creek and started up a shaded lane where water seeps in the wet season and green moss grows.
Not far ahead, I came upon a most unusual sight. In a tall sycamore tree, which I had watched through the years grow from a sapling, was a gathering of robins the likes of which I had never seen before. There were hundreds of them. They seemed undisturbed as I moved in closer to observe the wonder.
The chorus of their chirps and singing was almost mesmerizing. They flitted and flirted among the branches of the sycamore. Then, back and forth they flew to small cedars. Every move seemed to be strangely orchestrated. Among them were older birds, their red breasts broad, and their bodies full. And there were younger ones with youthful heads and slender bodies. All were together, I suppose — exchanging notes — summoning courage to meet the challenges of spring.
All my life, I had heard of “a robin’s roost.” I had found one … priceless.
You might say that one of the reasons I love that old hollow is because, within its bounders, I have encountered nature at its finest.
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