Montani Semper Liberi

I’m typing this on the deck of a log cabin deep in the woods of the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, somewhere near the town of Mathias and Lost River State Park, 15 miles from the nearest store or filling station, further from any cell phone coverage, and even further from any work obligations for the next two weeks or so. My companion and I set out from New York yesterday morning, cats and bags and groceries in the back, traveling south and west first by interstate and then by state and local route and finally by dirt road, until we got here, somewhere around

38 degrees 54 minutes north by 78 degrees 53 minutes west, in a quiet forest cabin that I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, owned by close friends of my family. And, yes, I confess: I promptly plugged my wireless router into the DSL modem and am completely loving the peace and quiet out here in this secluded space, the hummingbirds and whippoorwills, while being able to, well, do this.

We stopped by today and took a look at my Dad’s as yet unfinished cabin, a 15-minute walk away.


On the way, we caught this view of the place where we’re staying, from across the creek.


It’s called Moss Hill, for the moss that’s growing on the approach from the front.


The original cabin — the one I recall, without the electricity or the running water that it has now — is the central structure.


And my companion and I are loving spending time on the deck, in beautifully clear and perfectly temperate weather, with nothing at all to worry about.


The title for this post, “The mountains People of the mountains are always free,” is carved prominently into the interior structure of the cabin. Life is good.

Montani Semper Liberi

6 thoughts on “Montani Semper Liberi

  • June 24, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    took you 15 minutes to walk to dad’s cabin? damn you’re slow! Just picking bro, happy you get to enjoy some peace and tranquility, Zach would probably punch you for taking your computer with you. Im on the other end of the spectrum with stuff gets crazier as the move approaches (tuesday) but like usual I get calm in the center of the storm (well my mind does even if my actions get more intense. THinking you had a good idea Im going camping this weekend at berkeley springs for my boy carl’s birthday. Hope all is well, say hi to your companion for me.

  • June 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I believe the translation of the latin is “Mountaineers are always free”, or more commonly expressed as “mountain men are always free”, the motto of the state.
    Gene and I discussed it on more than a few occasions (generally over beer or wine) as to why the place felt special from Gene’s job as a professor and my job as an attorney. I gave him the wood carving knives one Christmas, and he carved the beam.

  • June 25, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Thanks, Gertie. Tink and Zeugma say hi. You’re right: “montani” is literally “those of the mountains”; “mountains,” interestingly enough, would be “montes.” (I promise not to tell about the distinction between “libri” and “liberi.”)

  • June 26, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I was so happy for you until “perfectly temperate weather.” Hiss!!! Now you’re just being smug!



    [“where the highs today and tomorrow are in the upper 90s”]

  • January 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    In the words of Lyfe Jennings: Must be NICE!

  • January 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I believe it was Chekov who wrote “Rasboyniki eti goryetsi” which translates as “These mountain people are brigands.” It is ironic that privileged carpetbaggers and local people express their “freedoms” differently. What one may be “free” to do, the other may be constrained by necessity to do.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: