Tag Archives: resources and research

Swampfire thoughts

It is no surprise i missed the news that the Okefenokee was struck by lightning April 28 setting off the Honey Prairie wildfire which was still burning in July according to numerous news reports and, according to npr the other morning, is still burning—underground!

Our canoe through Pogo’s homeland back in March 2010 showed us that the black swamp was not a stranger to widfires, evidence both recent and long past was everywhere. This time, according to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge website the fires were started by a lightning strike on April 28, 2011. Water levels were and are much lower in the swamp than they were before the 2007 fires which we saw evidence of—was this wildfire influenced by mankind?

Are we causing our own droughts not just through climate-change influences but through water overuse as well?


The swamp will recover. A fragile ecosystem, it is also dynamic. It saw wildfires hundreds of years ago when no one was around to contain them, it saw them 50 years ago (in the 1950s a fire burned for over a year), and it will continue to be threatened, although they do seem to be coming more often. The swamp will regenerate but it will be changed. The real threat seems to be the lower water levels, as parts of the swamp dry up it’s ecosystem is obviously diminished and the question still is are we causing this?? The question is moot—what’s wrong with living as if we are?

There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we have met the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
—Walt Kelly, author of

more cemeteries still

Driving up and down the backroads and dirt roads of Gray, Ga., I found this poetic spot, it looked like a cemetery but there were sculptures carved from tree stumps and trunks, it was someone’s spiritual oasis. The carver may have been Charles Robert Rogers or his good friend buried nearby. next to each is a spot for their wives to lay and between the pairs is a bench which i imagine the women sitting on together, uncomfortable as it may be. This is their spot I am pretty certain. But they are not alone there, I stopped and peered over a well-made stone wall and found a tombstone: “to the memory of Nehemiah Dunn who died May 8, 1821.” I’d never seen a stone wall like this, so confined, like a family plot with no gate. It may have marked the boundaries of the entire original family cemetery. At any rate, it prepared me for the 2nd mysterious stone wall i would run across just down the road.

I finally found the C House, I drove slowly this time, peering into every gap in the trees, for the mailboxes were few and 758 had to be somewhere between here and there. I finally spotted the house, peeking out from many layers of overgrowth and began picking my way toward the house, stomping to chase snakes away from my sandalled feet. Mental note: bring extra shoes. With a completely new foundation I thought the house had been moved there, but if it was this was definitely an old house site. This is pecan country and the house is surrounded by many of my favorite nut trees, left from the house (i mean the other left) stretch a line of OLD and [once] well-groomed holly trees which seem to lead me straight to a long low stone enclosure exactly like i’d just seen, another family cemetery! This one was longer and narrower, reminding me of a trough, but at the far end another more dilapidated enclosure of iron fencing made me pretty certain that, though there were no tombstones that i could see, this was a burial ground. The stone wall, even the graves don’t have to be as old as the death date of Mr. Nehemiah Dunn previously, but the C House here was built in 1805 and the size of the trees growing inside the wall attest to some age.


all roads lead to Rome


B (that is to say Bill) was game enough to come along with me on a pretty awesome road trip this past Saturday. So far, not one of these easement inspections has been dull. Finally, a witness to the wonderful affability of folks in small-town Georgia. We breezed through Mae’retta with a stop for lunch at Dave’s BBQ—which is kin and exactly like Community Q down in Decatur so i can highly recommend it—and found our way into Rockmart where we had a nice chat with Mr. _ of the house there, took some pictures and moved on to Rome. He attempted to use his phone, but really, i’d mapped out the way old school (with google you know) and a back-up highway map so there was no need for fancy gadgets, besides, we remembered, all roads lead to Rome right? at least the straight ones?

Rome, it turns out, has an acropolis, I noticed it right off, towering over the western end of downtown, just across the river that looked so good and cool and ready for an intertube. But first we had to step off the downtown blocks, surprising in the commerce they displayed. At the very last stop on the list the owner of the building was sitting outside and made a point to stop us. We soon were getting a whole history lesson on Rome (which we’d been speculating about for the last hour or so), the trade, industry, and recent years in the city’s life. Mr. W showed us historic photos and postcards and then we hit him with what we really wanted to know, where could we find some ice cream or a popsicle around here?? Well, he said, I’ve got fudgesicles. and up he went to his apartment to grab us 2 each, PERFECT! he’ll get a very good report.

So, ice cream craving satisfied, we needed water, we thought about going back to our friend again, but decided we might find a faucet in the cemetery. We headed over the river, dreamed of jumping in it and the trekked on up the steep sides of the terraced acropolis. I have never seen anything like this place. The was insanely steep, you would never want to walk straight up the front side of a thing like that, the best you could’ve done is crawl, but they’d terraced the thing and put steps between terraces and had been burying people there for well over a century, nigh on 2 centuries i imagine though we didn’t hunt out the oldest markers. The trees were incredible as well and local Romans seem to enjoy the place as much as we did, or at least I, cause, as you know, i love cemeteries. One fellow was sitting in some shade near the top reading a book, looked like he’d been there all day. We filled the water bottle, drained it, and filled it again. i think we were out again by the time we got back down. It was all quite incredible.

this Friday: Gray, Eatonton, Madison and a haircut with Artee (:

terraced cemetery

Senoia Ga

I knew there was a reason i’d been looking at Moreland, Georgia, on the map a while back, planning a trip. It came to me when i passed his birthplace museum by the railroad tracks, I was in Erskine Caldwell country. This became more apparent as i followed google maps’ directions down a closed road and gravel road to the next house in Coweta county that was on my route. I could feel the hot dusty backcountry of his novel Tobacco Road, which i admittedly have not read since i was 15 or so but which i identify with Welty’s Losing Battles, and Faulkner short stories, and Flannery O’Conner tales—this was the air I breathed for a bit before i came upon my next quarry with which i fell in love.

erskine caldwell country

After inspecting my 3 houses for the day, i thought i’d go on into the town of Senoia and see what it was all about. Surely I could find some ice cream or a popsicle at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Senoia was your standard medium-sized RR town. More than a strip along the tracks it’s downtown ran up the hill from the tracks along a main thoroughfare and had a central intersection at which, surprisingly, new buildings had sprung up. I would soon learn that Senoia was in on the movie-money and “they” were building all these new things, reviving the downtown for sets and such and if i cared to, i could see the markers in the sidewalk. I had to ask someone on the street but eventually found a scoop of chocolate yogurt (the kind that tastes just like a Mayfield ice cream fudge-sicle) on a cake cone and i went back to my walking.

senoia, ga

Even though it was about to rain, i had a few more bites of ice cream and that church was intriguing so i went ahead and walked around one more block and that was when i met Mr M and Sparky. It was one of those moments you see someone walking ahead and most often we decide to steer around them so we don’t have to offer more than a passing hello, and i had no intention of getting caught up in a conversation but i thought i’d stick to my route around the church building and say hey to the dog. “One time,” began the man, “when ice cream was only 5 cents, I had 3 scoops for 5 cents, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.” Really? i thought, one of these old-timer stories?? “Well, i’d just turned to walk out the door and my ice cream just fell right off the cone and that dog had it up before i could even look down! well the lady saw it and she gave me 3 more scoops you know. it wasn’t the good ice cream place, there it was 10 cents for a scoop and they had banana and praline and all sorts of good flavors but here you could get THREE scoops of the cheap stuff, the watered down ice cream for 5 cents. back then there was no contest of which to put my money down on, i always went to that place….”

One thing led to another and Mr M and I strolled on around the church stopping here and there and him telling me stories all the while. I learned all about how he met his wife, and where he grew up in Atlanta (Grant Park, then to Kirkwood, then “that no-man’s land below Little Five Points”), and he had a paper route on Ponce (back then it was lots of apartments and they’d leave his stack—came in stacks of 50 papers—at the corner and he’d get the stack, roll up the papers—fold in thirds—and deliver them). He lived in Mississippi for 30 years, and then he’d been back in Senoia for 20, retired (as a Lutheran minister—ah!) 3 times and still getting to live in the old house right downtown that the church provided him with. He also remembered signing a petition in the early 50s when he was based on Treasure Island in the bay and San Fran was attempting to get rid of the streetcars, “and you know they’re still using them!” he sounded delighted. All these stories and many more just flowed from him without my asking a thing. Every now and then he’d ask about me, but that never lasted long, just led to another tale, another memory, and a piece of that led to another. I was drawn in to talking with him, didn’t want him to stop, and we didn’t until it really did finally started to rain, we reached my car and he and Sparky turned back across the churchyard toward home.

turkey chase

On my first day alone on the job I was chased by a turkey. Seriously.


I went out to Lithonia yesterday afternoon to inspect the H Homestead. No one was home so I parked outside the gate, let myself in, and was immediately seduced by the landscaping. A family lives in the house but the property is also used as (i think K said) a nursery, incorporating all the old farm buildings, a pond, etc, into their lush landscape. I intended to check it out after i inspected the house exterior but i would not make it that far. I walked on around the house and started to take pictures and notes, it was such a pleasant place! I got back to the front porch and wondered why it was such a mess—but at least, thought i, that doesn’t seem to be doing any real damage, as long as they clean… and then he appeared.


Thanksgiving incarnate, walking toward me, so fluffed up his feathers dragged the ground with an ominous “shhHHHH” sound. I was in awe, and began taking his picture now. But he wouldn’t leave me alone! He hopped off the porch and began following me around the yard, closer and closer, when i tried to pause he came within a foot or so and I, not really wanting to get pecked took his silent hint and kept moving. No, he never said a word, but he also never let his feathers down until i was out of the front gate and had shut it behind me!