Friday, March 25, 2016

There Are Ghosts Upon These Waters

 In my last couple of posts I have hinted that a change is coming. Today I'm writing about the real Mysticwood. The picture above is the Tar River in Rocky Mount N.C.  The second oldest cotton mill in the state sits on her banks and when I was small I came to live just a few blocks away. The river was a wild place to me as a child; an enchanted place and it has remained so for me throughout my life.  I think I knew even when I was very young that I had been drawn into the mystery of this place. The deep quiet and the beauty and peace of it.
 There is an old cemetery on one side of the river in Battle Park but it is not ghosts from that sacred place that speak to me today.

Courtesy of Pinterest

The mill was in operation before the Civil War and in fact the original structure was burned then. It was rebuilt and burned again at a later time to be rebuilt again and remained in operation until it closed in 1996. Does anyone remember the quote from Gone With the Wind; You can tell your grandchildren how you saw the old south disappear one night"?  I'm watching the old south disappear again. Not the one from the quote, it's gone long before my time though stories were handed down of those times through my maternal grandmother. This is my story of the old south that I remember as a child and some thoughts on the new south that will come.

I remember when the neighborhood had a corner grocery, You could get fresh local produce there and it had a butcher counter in the back. I can still see the shadows of the elderly ladies back then. I can still see them speaking to old friends as they shopped and making their way back to their homes in the mill village or down Falls Road into the surrounding neighborhood.   They were always with a brown paper bag of fresh food for the table and more often than not a grandchild in tow. They almost always wore aprons and their hair was neatly rolled into a bun at the backs of their necks. I remember walking down Ridge St. behind Miss Katie, my stepfathers mother returning from Hayes'  or Capps'  grocery. I remember the smaller children in the neighborhood playing on the sidewalk and brother tugging anxiously at his grandmothers hand wanting to run ahead. Chuck was always impatient, he wanted to run, he wanted to fly. He used to run to meet my mother beneath an old oak tree that is still standing. I held him in my arms for the last time beneath that same tree.            
I watched in sorrow as the economy declined after the textile factories closed. I had taken for granted how many homes were paid for by the hard working people of these mills and factories.  So many generations of families were bound by the threads of these mills. The ghosts of these factories still survive.  
 Rocky Mount Mills is being restored now and with it will come many changes. This is a much needed change and I've little doubt that it will bring a new prosperity to the area. This will also mean that I will be leaving the area too. I do not want to go but it is what it is and I know it is for the best but again there are always some things lost when something is gained.  The ghosts of all my life have lingered here and where ever I have traveled I have come back to this place because it is home.
 Beside the river there are trees with initials carved so long ago that they are mere scars now. Initials of lovers through the generations that vowed to love forever. Some of them would marry and raise their children here. Some were parted by war, never to meet again in life. Some loved for a time and parted ; only to be reunited as friends They shared their first and last kiss here beneath these old trees but even though their paths sent them in different directions the love remained. Ghosts of innocent first love. Love that would become more of a family love and community love and their children would play together beneath the trees beside this magical river.

                                                         ( Picture courtesy of Pinterest)
Picture courtesy of Pinterest

These waters have borne many secrets and much sorrow. But it is the laughter and the hope, the many prayers and dreams shared here that I remember most.
I remember how the wisteria was twined and woven through the forest from the park and along Peachtree Street. It was then a gravel street through the mill village, an abandoned place where so many mill houses had been moved or torn down.  The fragrance of the wisteria seemed to take me back a hundred years into some dream of a simpler time that had past before me but still existed.  This was a comforting ghost that I looked forward to each spring and though much of the wisteria has long since disappeared just a hint a that fragrance and I can still embrace those enchanted misty mornings when the  sun broke through the fog and the lavender flowers glistened on the march breeze.   I could go on and on but for now I wish the best that change can bring to this area and I will ask the Mystic Wood which dream it is that I must follow now,

Blessed be from all of us here at Mysticwood Primitives

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