lush humid air smelling of cedar
calling of whippoorwills
stars lean in closer
checking out the competition
first cicadas of the season
summer jazz concert
I was driving home with my mom last week and our road off the ridge had a short space where the trees had touched overhead to form a tunnel. And mom reminded me of the road down to the shack – she said that was one of her favorite things in the summer – the tree tunnel all the way to our home.
That road turned off a state highway about a mile and a half north of the house and ran along side a creekbed on the west side of the road. It was a gentle slope along the hollow between the two ridges; a dirt and gravel road, well maintained by the county, and ran all the way down to Spring Creek. Once the only road south to Rogers, AR, it is still called the Old Rogers Road on some maps.
We found out the history of our area as we learned more about our road. The roadside along the creekbed was reinforced by a solidly built stone wall. As we explored the creek, we found an inscription on one of the stones explaining that this wall had been built by the WPA. So this was one of the road projects in the 1930′s that helped men make a living during the Depression’s hard times. I admired the wall even more once I considered the hardships that these men must have faced in this area during the Depression. Never an easy place to scratch a living, the Ozarks must have been hit even harder during those years.
We began to visit with the folks that lived down the road. I mentioned one of them in an early post, our neighbor whose son sold us the shack and who would stop and share a beer with Bob on hot summer afternoons. His wife told us that this road was used by both armies of the Union and the Confederacy during the days of the Battle of Pea Ridge. The armies marched and rested alongside the creek. And the spring house in their yard was used to house the wounded as the armies moved south. Artifacts of the battle would occasionally turn up in the villiage’s garden plots or newly dug foundations. Bullets, buckles and buttons were common but the most unusual was a cannonball that had to have the bomb squad come out from Rogers. We never found anything other than a few old bottles or broken china on our land.
We loved the road and would walk it with the dogs every day, looking for new wildflowers or roses in bloom. I would gather rose hips for autumn arrangements and we would pick blackberries in the sunny spots. Each fall a family would come by gathering black walnuts to sell at the villiage farm store. They would always politely ask to come on our property to pick up the hard round nuts and we would happily agree.
In the summer, the road was a tunnel of trees from the state highway to the north, all the way to the beginning of our property. As the road made a gentle curve to the left, our home on the side of the ridge, would come into view. Then as you passed to the southern property line, the trees would again fold over the road.
The temperature would drop by 5 to10 degrees as the road descended down the hollow. It was wonderful in the hottest time of the summer to roll down the windows and breathe in the cooler air.
And then in those hot summer nights, the trees would be filled with fireflies! So thick it would seem to be strings of fairy lights illuminating the road. Absolutely magical! Add a few children, our nieces and nephew or friend’s kids, and you would really have an enchanting scene. We would walk under that tree tunnel, covered in the glimmering lights of the fireflies, and could almost see our shadows.
I can still see the children’s faces looking up in wonder at the trees. A beautiful memory shared by everyone who walked that road. Until next time….