Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great Green Mountains ...


My friend and fellow writer Peggy Vincent suggested an essay I am working on -- "A Fool for Food" -- contained the seed of another essay -- "Griswold No. 8" -- perhaps as a meditation on family inspired by a cast iron skillet handed down to me from my grandmother.

I am an American mongrel: Anglo-Celt, a bit of this, a dash of that, some of whose people were probably tossed out of England and Ireland circa 1700 and others of whom were here to greet them.

It's odd that I think of those people each time we drive off the Ozark plateau toward the valley that holds the little settlement of Shell Knob, where we have a cabin. As we drive along the ridge lines, there are vast tracts of land dedicated to the Mark Twain National Forest, and I always think about setting off into that great green forest with nothing but a flint-lock, some powder and lead, an ax and knife, and perhaps some salt and corn meal.

No doubt that's how my people traveled to Tennessee, along the river valleys, through the Cumberland Gap, westward, always westward.

A line from the Gordon Lightfoot song "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" has run through my head all day long as I have chipped away at the essay ...

"When the green dark forest was too silent to be real ... "
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