As I write this, a relentless northeaster pummels our county with gusts up to 40 mph. Trees bow and fall in the wind, as branches snap and fly in the frigid air. Ambient temperatures in the teens freeze local ponds and turn the ground to stone. With wind chill below zero, even a dog walk is nothing short of brutal. Predicted heavy snowfall should begin within hours.

I haul quartered rounds of birch and alder from the shed, feed our wood stove, and hunker down, resigned to staying inside.

Besides, the house needs cleaning. Soup ingredients await assembly. Accumulated laundry, heaped, too closely resembles Yosemite’s Half Dome.

I have no interest in tending any of them. If I have to stay indoors, I’d much rather curl up by that fire and read. I long to dodge the press of this weather, of isolation, of medical and political tempests. Storms too big for me. I exhale, releasing them into God’s cupped hands.

Time with Him improves my outlook, but my body lags. Resisting torpor, I search for an audiobook. Given today’s conditions, I know just the one.

Cold Mountain.

Two decades ago I brought a paperback copy of the book home from the library, eager to read author Charles Frazier’s acclaimed prose. The first pages told me that his dense style asked for a focused read, so I set the book aside for an undistracted time, then never got to it. When the library’s due date arrived, I returned the book, unfinished. A few years later I saw the movie and never thought of the hard copy again.

But recently an email arrived from Chirp offering the Cold Mountain audiobook on sale for $4.99. ( offers a huge assortment of audiobooks at ridiculously low prices—with no subscription required.) Needless to say, I snapped it up.

Today, I open my Chirp app and listen. Charles Frazier’s sonorous voice travels straight through my earbuds, reading his harrowing narrative in language so elegant, so exquisite, I am transported away from current howling times to Civil War Appalachia, where characters and events catch and hold me, certain to populate my perspective for years.

Hours later, I re-enter February 2021. I promptly order a hard copy of the book, just so my eyes and fingertips can connect with phrasing as beautifully crafted as any I’ve read. Just so I can remember the sound of the story.

When I look up, the soup’s on. Laundry’s washed, dried, and stowed.

And someone’s been cleaning.




And in other posts this week . . .

When North breaks loose and lands nearby. ❤️



(Juvenile baldie)

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

—1 Corinthians 9:25



“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.”

—Revelation 21:4


Powder Coated.

(Mt. Baker)

“Put on the full armor of God . . .”

—Ephesians 6:11


Thanks for reading, friends. I’m so glad you’re here.

Watching Nature, Seeing Life: Through His Creation, God Speaks

Posted by

Love the outdoors? I can take you there. Rural & wild PNW posts and photos from a naturalist, faith writer, and author of three books, including the award-winning novel Sugar Birds. Member of Redbud Writers Guild.

11 thoughts on “Beleaguered

  1. Thanks, Cheryl, For Your Take On Cold Mountain.
    I Read It A Long Time Ago, And Instantly Found Myself There, Through All The Waiting, Pain And Suffering.
    Love, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheryl, you truly are a kindred spirit. I picked up Cold Mountain years ago and just couldn’t get into it. Once I saw the movie, I never went back to the book. And then two years ago we moved to western NC where we live literally in the shadow of the real Cold Mountain. I purchased a hardcover copy of the novel at a used. bookstore and LOVED it. His prose is simply amazing. I guess I just wasn’t mature enough to appreciate it before!

    Once again, your photos are stunning. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

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