If the knob ridge that runs about five miles from Point Leavell Christian Church and Paint Lick Elementary School to where it drops off into Paint Lick Creek, here in our little village, has a name, I’ve never heard it. But I’d be willing to bet that, at one time or another, however unofficially, it was called somebody’s knob.
I have often heard our little neck of the woods, meaning southern Garrard and small portions of Rockcastle, Lincoln, and southwestern Madison counties, referred to as “The beginning of the knobs.” And, if you live or have lived here, you already know that driving around feels mostly like you are constantly going uphill or downhill, over and over, on any major road, but that you rarely have to downshift to climb a grade unless you get behind a slowpoke.
Hwy. 52 traverses our little ridge top and at least four other fairly distinct knobs in just one, 23-miles, stretch of road between Lancaster and Richmond. The lyrics to an old Osborne Brothers song come to mind, “Up this hill and down. Up this hill again. It’s a mighty, mighty long road, what ain’t got no end.”
Our house is situated down in a little valley on the watershed that runs between the aforementioned knob in front of us and yet another nameless one directly behind us. It’s less than a half-mile drive to get to the top of either of them and the actual difference in elevation between our house and the ridge lines is less than 300 feet.
Now you might think, as I once did, that the atmospheric climate would be the same on top of the ridge as it is down here in the valley, but you would be as wrong as I once was.
For well over a decade, before we bought this place, Loretta and I lived atop the ridge within spitting distance of Hwy. 52. We rarely lost any vegetable garden plants to frost when we lived up there. On the other hand, I have yet, in the 17 years we’ve been down in this valley, been able to grow a garden that didn’t get frost-bite.
I can’t count the many times I’ve had to scrape frost off my truck’s windshield before leaving home for work and both the yard and garden were white with frost, then driven less than half a mile up the hill, past the late Dan Ledford’s place, to see his truck sitting there clean as a whistle and his front yard as green as a gourd without even a hint of frost.
But, now that I’m retired, I do have to admit that I love getting up on frosty mornings before sunrise, taking a cup of coffee to the front porch swing, firing up a bowl of Captain Black and watching the frost melt. It is nothing short of phenomenal to see the first rays of sun cross the ridge top and erase broad swaths of frost from the pastures that surround our place. In one heart beat the fields will be snow white. In the next, it’s as if someone was up there with a huge brush, using rapid strokes, to paint them green and tan again.
Last Saturday, I even found myself much entertained by watching snow melt in much the same way. The snow was already gone from the hay fields and pastures, but the floor of the north-facing woods across the way was still solid white before those warm, intermittent and high speed gusts of wind commenced blowing in around noontime.
One minute the air would be as still as death and the next minute it would blow so hard I could barely stand up in it. Every time a gust blew through, I could watch the snow line recede for several feet at one time down the side of the knob. And, again, it was as though a giant hand had decided it was tired of white and had decided that dark brown was the way to go. The difference was as radical as Loretta getting tired of the ivory white on our dining room walls and painting them a color she calls mulberry except the wind worked a lot faster than my wife when it comes to painting and it was a lot more fun to watch.
Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at [email protected] or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.