I realize now that I am older that I have many different experiences than many when it comes to country living. I would like to reflect on my experiences of living in the middle of nowhere. With the COVID-19 pandemic I now have been away longer than I ever have been before. The last I have of my parents and siblings was in late February. I really miss my home, and recently I have been thinking a lot about my experiences. Each time I visit it feels as if I am on a vacation. It is a place where I can explore nature and unwind from my current lifestyle of city living.
When most people talk about coming from a “the middle of nowhere” usually they just mean a small town. Most also talk about it like it’s a bad thing but I really enjoyed my time there. I often feel as though I’m lying when people ask. I will typically answer “I am from Somerset County” or just refer to the town of Somerset. This is the census taken from the Wikipedia page on Callimont had to say about borough that I came from.
“Callimont is a borough in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 51 at the 2000 census.”
Pictured above was my backyard. My house was surrounded by state game lands and I was not allowed to play outside during hunting season. My dad was a firm believer in only ever hunting or fishing if we needed food and could not afford to buy it from the store. For a long time I had often thought that hunters were doing the same. I was sad to learn that many did it for the thrill or experience and not the food.
Another activity was picking up pop cans from the side of the road. There were a few places where we could turn in aluminum cans for money. If I am remember correctly it was around 50 cents per pound of aluminum. Sadly, there were always plenty of beer cans along the roads. We recycled anything that we could get money from. I learned how to tear apart many things in order to separate the components into valuables. We collected copper from wires and scrap metals as well.
We spent our time during the summers picking black raspberries, and blackberries. We would use gallon ice cream buckets to pick and freeze them in to have all year long. Mainly we used them for making pies, but nothing is better than eating them right off the bush. They only thing is the bushes have thorns so on very hot days late June and early July we wore long sleeves out in the sun all day.
After a long hot day of picking berries, we could go swimming in the crick. This was my favorite summer activity. The water was always extremely cold, but it felt so good. There are poisonous snakes so we always had to be on the lookout for them basking on the rocks, but it wasn’t usually a problem. We would typically wear shoes in the water. It was a spot wear local fishermen would come to and they would sometimes throw glass beer bottles in the water.
In the fall we would pick pods from witch-hazel trees. The trees don’t get very big so you can do this from the ground. You get more money from them if you extract the seeds from the pods. We did this by drying them out and waiting for them to pop. After sifting any unwanted bit we would then take them to a local seed place.
Winters were extremely boring. Mainly my brothers and I would come home after school I would go sled riding for a bit but it would grow dark outside very quickly. We only had satellite tv during the winter months so it was our only time to watch tv. I didn’t have cell phone service until 2012, and My parents still do not have the internet.
I’m sure that I am leaving out a ton of things. Basically It was camping but all the time but in house. I learned so many things from my dad about the land and giving back to it. I realized now I was being taught the importance of recycling, saving the trees, and about wildlife. I also learned about the devastating effects people have on nature even those who live there.
More and more of the land gets timbered and it’s heartbreaking to witness. I tried to find some articles about deforestation locally but most articles are about the Amazon Rainforest, but it is happening all over. It’s really sad to think that in the future there will no wilderness anywhere.