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The Shepherd's Heart: Things change, don't they?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"The well house is still standing, but that's about all that's left of the old home site."

"Grandpa's barn is gone."

"The trails are overgrown with shrubs and tall, wiry grasses have overtaken the pasture."

"The fence rows are clogged with brushy undergrowth, thorn trees and briars patches."

It has been a while since I last visited the back roads of Stone County, Arkansas. Suffice it to say the above notes could describe many of the old home places today. These are places I used to see on a regular basis when staying the summers of my youth with grandparents in the Hanover and Luber neighborhoods.

As my son and I drove through the area, looking to reconnect with the roots of our heritage, I found myself saying things like "I think this was such and such" or "I believe so and so lived here." It was -- at times -- difficult to recognize the places. They had changed that much.

I know as well as the next guy how time can change things -- even people. But to me, the changes seemed immense.

Up the hill to the south, the old rock wall is still standing around the well at the site where the Mossy Ridge School used to meet, but that's about the only evidence you will find that such a meeting place ever existed there.

Things had even changed down along the Tomahawk. It appeared that you can no longer drive from the low-water bridge down the creek to the Watergate Hole, the Boat Hole (where many locals were baptized over the years -- and several other people friendly locations. On the other side of the bridge, you can no longer find a track wide enough to drive up the Tomahawk toward the Ernest Thomas hole and the High Bank hole -- both great fishing spots.

To the left as you cross the bridge heading north, the familiar sight of a long narrow hay field snuggled up next to a tributary of the Tomahawk comes into view. On the day of our journey, we watched as the breeze set the tall blades of grass into motion and the place looked like a miniature ocean filled with green and gold waves.

Past the field we could see the forested valleys through which the Tomahawk flows to reach this spot. As a child and teenager, I would sit on the front porch of grandpa's house and watch the rain follow the creek through those cuts in the hills. In the dust and heat of those dog days of summer, he was always happy to hear me yell "Rain's coming down the creek!"

That was then and this is now. Memories are simply once firm realities which have passed on and made way for new realities -- realities that may seem unfamiliar to us.

But things do change, don't they?

"The well house is still standing, but that's about all that's left of the old home site."

"Grandpa's barn is gone."

"The trails are overgrown with shrubs and tall, wiry grasses have overtaken the pasture."

"The fence rows are clogged with brushy undergrowth, thorn trees and briars patches."



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BOB G. STEWART, Columnist
The Shepherd's Heart