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4 Hole-in-the-Rock ':4 boy's will is the wind's will, And the thoughts ofyouth are long, long thoughts." Henry W. Longfellow, "My Lost Youth" June 1958 marked the beginning ofmy second high school vacation . Early one morning I fought the drowsy comfort of sleep and pulled myself from bed before daylight. By the first gray light I had eaten breakfast, called the feist dog, Squeeze, and left a dark trail in the dew across the pasture. Where a thin road plunged into the woods, I turned to look back. Our house stood white against the trees across the pasture; Corbett's house hid in water oaks a couple hundred yards beyond. My fifteenth year was on the wane. As I turned and started down the long-abandoned roadway, cherry laurel trees and yaupons leaned into the opening, flinging spiderwebs across the gap. I broke a branch to sweep the webs away before they wrapped around my face. Excitement gave each step a spring; today I knew that I would find the fabled Hole-in-the-Rock. The roadbed took me north, following an old-field stand of young loblolly pines to the right and a brush-and-briars tangle ofa twice-cut hammock to the left. An armadillo halted in the lane ahead, lifting up its nose; it had heard my step. Squeeze gave chase, and the armadillo raced into the hardwood tangle, disappearing in a hole beneath an old magnolia. Fifteen minutes later I could feel the woods begin to open up. The ruts had whitened now with sand. A fox squirrel flitted up the red oak that marked for me the entrance to the piney woods, and Squeeze stood by the tree, looking back at me. Ten minutes more and I would come upon the fallen cones of the first longleaf pine, where on windy days the sound changed from a rustling to a soughing. "Follow Hog Creek down across the Tennessee Gas pipeline," Corbett had repeated just the day before. "Before you reach the Angelina bottom, the flats beside the creek will start to widen out. On your right you'll eventually come across a little glade, and on the other side of that, ifyou look sharp, you'll see it, rising up and looking out ofplace. "What's that? No, there ain't nothing else like it anywheres up there. You'll know it when you see it." By the time I crossed the arrow-straight woods road we called the Old Kirby Main Line, the sun had lighted up the longleaf tops. The washed-out road that led up the hill from there to Pa Graham's place had cut through sand and down into a bricklike soil, where rain had gouged a ditch and chunks of gravel perched on stools of redbrown clay. I lingered briefly at the old homeplace, vacant now that Pa Graham had died and Corbett and Fannie had moved nearer to us. The huge red oaks overhung the sandy yard as always, but the cypress shingle roof sagged where a gallery post had fallen through the rotting porch. The straight-up boards oflongleaf pine still stood beside the dogtrot that ran between the two main parts of the house, but the white mud chimney had started to disintegrate. I removed the cistern cover to sound a "ho" and hear an instant "ho" bounce back from the bottom. This last vestige of human settlement for several miles marked the commencement ofthe real piney woods. Sand sucked at my feet where the road traversed swales. I could see a hundred yards and more in most directions. Longleaf trees towered over scrubby sandjack and 33 Hole-inthe -Rock Here we lounged, cooling off Corbett's "wash hole" on Hog Creek in a remote stretch oflongleafpinewoods. blackjack oaks on the flats and ridges; baygall thickets hid the watercourses trickling from the hillsides down to larger creeks. I loved these woods. About two miles down the road I ran into one of those situations that in minutes shoves you into a new age bracket. It happenedjust before the road ruts climbed a hill to cross the pipeline corridor. I had passed a baygall head on the left when Squeeze began to bark where the open woods merged into a thicket ofwax myrtle. When he came into view, he was moving my way and looking back over his shoulder with his tail down. I knew he hadn't barked at an opossum...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781587292408
Related ISBN
9780877455318
MARC Record
OCLC
44954140
Pages
230
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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