In the last 60 days my family has laid to rest four family members. Two were not blood kin but I cannot remember a time in my life they were not there. If you married someone in our family – your kin. It has caused us all to stop and do a little thinking, reminiscing, where we came from.
As I grew up I did not dream of being rich, or going around the world to see big things. My adventure began in the woods behind my grandmother’s house. Those woods solved lots of problems and heard lots of laughter. I didn’t need to go anywhere else.
The Baptizen’ Hole is the place where adventures began for me as a young’en and I thought all kids at that age had a place they could go, that was magical like the “woods” were to our family. It was directly behind the family church where everyone went to be baptized.
Lots of sinners walked down that hill side’s worn path to the water in that hole at the bottom of the woods. The church gathered around the water and sang “When we all get to heaven” and “The ole rugged cross” as the sinner made their way across the slick rocks and plunged into the ice cold water. The songs remain in my head, I can still see my uncle Marion bend his knees as he sang to hit to low notes and raise his hands.
I don’t remember how many heads I witnessed go under in that water hole but the singing going back up the hill was always normal to me as a kid, I can still hear them sing. That was church for me.
I felt a little guilty playing in the water hole later in the week since it was holy enough water to clean someone up for heaven. My mammy said the sins got washed downstream so we didn’t get it dirty.
After church every Sunday we had food waiting on the stove at my Mammy’s house that never ran out no matter how many stopped by after church in that small country kitchen. Recipes that are written but never tasted the same.
As kids we would go into the “woods” for hours at a time. Until it was close to dark and we had to crawl back up the hill side to where my grandmother Mammy stood on top of the big rock to hollered that y…u….weeeeee …. a hollar that only she could do. I miss my Mammy.
When we had family reunions we had to take the “guest” from the city down in the woods.
Any time friends stayed the night that was the first place we would go.
Why we did not fall in a hole or see more snakes are beyond me. The woods were thick with brush but we had made a path from the back of the house all the way down to the Baptizen hole.
We walked by the blackberry patch to grab a handful of berries to take with us.
The most friendliest woods on earth that were full of adventure.
Grapevine swings OFF the bluff – that hung out of a tree. Two or three tugs to see if it would hold us and off the bluff we would swing.
Swimming in hole full of snakes – yes they always laid curled up under the water fall. Every now and then we would see one swim across the water. It never seemed to stop us from playing down stream.
The water was ice cold, the stream was crystal clear and if you were thirsty we would lay on a rock and sip from the creek.
We all drank out of the same mason jar that we filled from the side of the hills continuous running stream of fresh sulfur water. We sat the Mason jar down in the creek propped between two rocks to stay nice and cold, and let the sulfur settle to the bottom of the jar. It tasted terrible but it was ice cold. Perfect for sipping after chasing Indians and playing cowboys.
Climbing wet slippery moth covered rocks to have a PBJ at the top where the “Indians” lived in the caves that settled back in the stone. We had a path along the edge of a very narrow rock we called our seats.
There you could see all the way down the hollow woods – listen to the water fall run, the leaves rustle, throw a few rocks from the top to the bottom and search for arrow head rocks to add to our collection.
We fished from the same hole that produced fish big enough to say one was caught. Not enough for a fish fry – big enough to tell a tale using a cane pole.
On a hot summer July day we would stand under the water fall to cool off – we would be dry by the time you got back to the house at the top of the hillside.
We Peed behind a tree. The tree was barely big enough to hang onto so you didn’t fall in the creek – the rest of the crew would turn their heads.
No wonder we slept on that flat feather bed so well at night. We chased our adventures all day, sipped from a mason jar and ate food cooked from the garden. The windows were wide open all night and you slept listening to the cicadas as you drifted off to sleep. You woke to the whippoorwills and bob whites singing.
And then there was slop jar under the bed….
Tell me your story – do you know these woods? Did you have that magical place to grow up where adventures came from your own dreams? They are still there…. you have to let them out to grow.
My dreams started in the woods but they came out with me when it was time for dinner. Those dreams are not dead…. they were born there. They are alive and so are yours. Those woods allowed me to be me, to dream, to pretend and to be who we were. Today the woods are still there and so is that baptizing hole. The magic is in the heart.
Tell me about your special place below in the comments