The old green apple tree & the green grapevine knew their place. Back behind the terrace laid by, by black hands on the stock of a plow pulled by a mule sometime before 1900. It was his land. It was his plow.it was his mule. He & his bride contoured the face of that land. Shaped it. Made it fit to grow vegetables,hay,cane,cotton & anything else that put food on their table,in the cooking pots & paid the taxes so he could say “this is my land.”
I never knew his name,but I grew up knowing his story. I would play in the pasture he cleared of rocks & stumps & trees & ravines he filled in so the land we called home didn’t erode away.
The original 2 rooms of the old home place,he built for he & his then new bride.
As a child I picked blackberries in a field as level as glass. In soil where he walked behind his mule saying,”Gee & Haw” probably as long as there was daylight.
I would roll in that pasture on summer days in the rich green grass. I swear,at times I could hear his plow busting the soil as the sweat of the mule mingled with clover & blackberries.
The old green apple tree & green grapevine was replanted by my Grandmother to replace the ones he originally planted. She loved that tree & vine. So did I. On the hottest summer day I could find rest,relaxation & a gentle,cool,sweet breeze there. The ground where they both grew was always cool. Never wet,but refreshing like a spring flowing out of the side of a creek bank in the middle of July.
I didn’t know his name,but I remember him like a long time gone family member.
I later found out that about 2500 acres in the countryside my family eventually lived in was once owned by a Free Black man prior to the Civil War. After the war he ended up owning some 5000 acres.
Prior to his ownership-Native Anerican villages- everywhere.
I could take you to places I knew as a child where broken pottery & arrow heads,with un-napped
prices of flint
were on top of the ground.
History has always been in me & around me. Guess that’s why I love it. It was never – “old”- it was alive,all around,a part of me.
Still is !