Yesterday I arrived early for an appointment with my family doctor. It was drizzling rain–something badly needed because of our drought. I didn’t want to go in that early so I searched the car for something to read and came accross a proof copy of Beyond the Thistle Patch, the autobiographal memoirs of my youth. I was thinking about my upcoming book signing in the town where those adventures unfolded so many years ago as I flipped through its pages. My gaze lit on chapter 15 and I read to myself these words:
One crisp day that fall I got my 410 shotgun out which I had bought that summer, and with Scampy, headed for the woods. What a sharp little gun it was, with a highly polished knotty-maple stock and a soft plastic carrying case!
Rover was growing very old, and he and Dixie didn’t offer to come along that day. I walked through the old hog lot and lingered under the big weeping willow tree before climbing across the slumping hog-wire fence and strolling through the stubble field which remained from harvesting the corn crop. Daddy needed less now that the hogs no longer occupied their crumbling domain. Somehow it seemed lonely without them. A goat brushed my leg and stared up at me, letting out a pitiful bleat. The goats were being allowed to devour the remaining stalks which now had little other usefulness. As I ambled onward, the memories of my childhood glory days flooded my mind. For the first time in years I recalled that day so many years ago when I wandered far away and discovered the mystifying field with the thistles and the rambling rock wall. Why had this been blocked from my memory for all of these years? I must have gone near there while out with my cousins. Come to think of it, we usually hunted on the other side of the road, up past the site of Vinsonville, I reasoned. Just when we found the cave and the forest fire started, were we over this way, and then we turned right and went more north!
It had been too long. I couldn’t remember the way I had gone to that wondrous spot, but I knew that now that I had thought of it, I would somehow find it once again. A crow let out a startled caw and flew rapidly from a white pine to my right. Something looks strangely familiar about that pine! I shook my head. A white pine is a white pine, right? Wait! The trunk forked about half way up, forming two distinct new equal trunks! Yes! It seemed that the crow was speaking to me, “Caw! Remember this tree?” I thought of Poe’s prolific classic poem, “The Raven” producing in my mind a nostalgic sense of wonder, and on my arms, a startling cascade of chill bumps. At that point it seemed that I was guided by an inner power, leading me onward toward my goal. New markers appeared. Within fifteen short minutes the sun again revealed the opening I had seen as a child! Déjà vu! There was the site of the mystical thistle patch. No blossoms were present, of course, since the season of their dwelling was half a year away. The old rock wall seemed somehow not as prodigious as it did the last time I had stood in this spot. Nonetheless, I knew that I had found it!
For a few brief moments I merely stood there, as if hypnotized by the renewal of a feeling so long missing in my life. What was it about this spot that intrigued me as it did? Was it the fact that it had loomed so beautifully before me at a special time in my life, or the idea that it had been forbidden? Then, slowly I strolled around the wall and noticed a dull bit of metal burrowed beneath the soil. Reaching down, I scratched it loose and saw that it was an Indian-head penny dated 1898! Could it have been dropped by the Shopes as they crossed the mountain on their wedding night? Pushing anxiously forward, I picked up a distinctive arrowhead.
If this makes you want to read further you may do so by ordering your copy at http://stclairpublications.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_4&products_id=37
or on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Thistle-Patch-Stanley-Clair/dp/1935786032