A Southern Writer – Diane Story in Georgia

Lincoln County Lost

What is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs?

~ Chief Seattle 1786-1866

Little did I know my end would be my beginning. Perhaps my first life was given to me so my forest could grow tall and plentiful – allowing the creek bottoms time to become fertile. Those years gone by left my riverbanks marked red with clay. Daily, the song of the whippoorwill ushered in the twilight. Odd sounds from critters big and small hid in the dark, awaiting sunrise. Silence took most of the day with the exception of a songbird or two. An occasional reminder of the greatness of the Creator was felt by the thunder of a mighty-fell oak.

One day the quiet was curiously interrupted by man cutting paths through my trees. Many followed, some hunted then moved on, while others made homes of the fallen trees. Some grew plants to eat; they helped and hindered each other, sometimes maiming or worse. Odd behavior, though I never judge, for I am here to support all, including the fancy clothed soldiers with loud guns.

Today, I am forgotten, though once I was used, perhaps taken for granted. The pathways started it, roads they called them, roads trodden by horses, wagons, and eventually the horseless carriage. Sojourners passed through, while others chose to stay put where school and church bells ring. I got accustomed to the odd ways of man: ceremonial fires, weddings, barn raisings, barbeques, harvest time, and babies being born. That made them happy. Nights when Doc So-and-So was summoned made them sad.

Man’s spirit belongs to the Creator, but it was me they turned to with farewell tears. They placed flowers on the sacred spots – flowers they hand selected from my dress so elegant – but there came a time when I dressed in rags and faced abandonment. Prayers echoing through the pines were no longer for the sick, but for me. I witnessed trembling hands and tear-stained faces as they packed all they could carry. At least once, they looked back in disbelief, knowing they’d never see me again. They moved the farewell markers along with a shovel full of dirt to another site but left the remains of those loved ones behind with me. Do not grieve for us, for we were not destined to cross the finish line.

I bow to my fate. Early one morn, a squawking crow announced the change. The water came – relentless and all consuming. Alas, the wind blew peacefully calming the water. The conflux of the Little River and Savannah River now command giving me a new identity: Clarks Hill Lake. Only a handful know of my first life. They call me: Lincoln County Lost.

Ghost Dog, Tom Poland Photographer