I exited the highway and slowly drifted down the muddy road. A few days prior I’d spotted the tunnel. The entrance is dark and foreboding. The Virginia Creeper vines hang across the opening as if they’re daring me to step within reach. Just on the other side the light falls gently on a peaceful looking forest. This is a mystery. My mind harkens back to my childhood and games of dungeons and dragons. What will happen if I cross the threshold? Will the vines try to grab me and pull me up into some primeval jungle? Will I find out the peaceful scene on the other side is just an illusion as I’m transported to an alternate reality by some mystical gateway? Will I find an angry axe wielding ogre waiting to squish me into jelly? My sense of fantasy and adventure begins to run wild. I began to recall hours of solving puzzles and riddles with my college friends in a world where one’s fate was controlled by the roll of a 20 sided die. It was pure escapism. Magical swords, cursed rings and legendary beasts all awaited us on Thursday nights in the student lounge.
The best games were the ones where we bent the rules just a little to keep the story going. I was tempted to temp fate and enter the tunnel for a few minutes. I quickly checked my pocket and found my trusty Victorinox Swiss Army Knife to fend away the vines. However, I remembered that the 20 sided die was lost to a wild roll and an open floor vent in 1988. Unwilling to face any axe wielding ogres without my lucky die, I opted to stay in the real world…for now. I turned my big blue truck back towards the open road and my day job where the vines don’t try to eat you. However, I am a little suspicious of the ficus in the corner of the office. 😉
Not every open doorway should be explored. Too often we fail to recognize the difference between can we and should we. The old saying is that “God doesn’t close one door without opening another.” I’ve found this to be true but I’ve also learned that Satan also opens doors. Sometimes it takes a lot of prayers to figure out which is which. And, always trust that gut feeling that tells you that something doesn’t seem right. Especially when you can’t see what waits in the shadows just beyond the threshold.
About tonight’s Feature image. Up until recently I thought this abandoned building was a train station but I have learned that it’s actually an abandoned bowling alley. We live at the northernmost range where Kudzu can grow. Every summer the kudzu completely swallows not just the building and every winter it all but vanishes.
Tonight’s image is the remnant of the old bridge at Gauley Bridge. If memory serves me it was burned down during the American Civil War. To me it not only represents history but also a lost future. The fog that surrounds the old pylon gives me the feeling of something ethereal like a visitor from the past has come to the future to check up on things. Is it a manifestation of a memory or am I a vision of the future? It’s in these moments when the past and the future seem to collide that fascinate me. Maybe it was the fog on the river and maybe it was the contrast between the old stones and the seedling trees that are growing out from it that seemed to suspend and warp time for me. I can imagine that I can hear a lament echoing out from the fog. It’s a voice from the past warning not to burn bridges and be quick to reconcile with those on the other side of river.
I have been told that if you take enough pictures eventually something strange will turn up in one. With that said I absolutely no explanation for the fishing boat shaped hole in the water in this image. The picture was taken just a few days ago at Kanawha Falls West Virginia. I suppose it’s just an odd wave rolling over a submerged object. That is, unless you believe that ghosts like to go fishing. 😉
I stood in the mists and listened, and I heard the echoes.
The echoes spoke to me and here is what they those echoes said.
Once there was a house and the house was a home.
Once there was friendswho would gather.
Once there was laughing.
Once there was a song.
Once there was dancing.
Once there was the smell of dinner cooking over an open flame.
Once there were games played on the lawn.
Once there was a warm bed and quietly spoken conversation by candlelight.
Once there was a sadness and a warm embrace to lessen the scars on a wounded soul.
Once there was work to be done and rest to be enjoyed.
Once there was love and love grew into life. And life was good.
The echoes fade away but love lives on.
Poetry by Lloyd A Dempsey II
The Feature image for this post is the Old Mason-Drennan house. Sadly, it’s a historic site that is quickly succumbing to the effects of time.
As I look at site I think about all the different stories that would have played out at the old resort. In the early Twentieth Century this was a destination for people who would travel from far away. I wonder how many family lines got started at the dances and social gatherings that were held there? That question was the inspiration for my poem. As the old inn fades away do the memories live on like an echo in time?
As the weather in the Northern hemisphere warms up people in Appalachia generally gather around a camp fire and tell ghost stories. But such stories don’t always have to be scary. After all, it’s just a story… isn’t it?