Some twenty years or so ago, my family embarked on a pilgrimage of sorts;
a journey to the site of the Farm, a magical land at the heart of many of my favorite tales from my dad's childhood. The Farm was the homestead of Colonel Lodowick Meriwether Hill, located a few miles outside the town of Washington, in the rolling red clay hills of Wilkes County, GA.
In the days of my father's youth, the farm belonged to his Grandfather and Grandmother Anthony, and my dad had woven many a fascinating tale for my siblings and me of the huge house with many fireplaces and more than a dozen rooms and wide porches all around and the huge barn from which he would leap with his cousins and the children of the household employees during blissful summers spent at the Farm.
On a warm winter day in February, 1996, descendants of the Hill family from England and California and Florida and South Africa and the Sandhills of North Carolina and places beyond and around and in between, gathered among the tombstones of the Hill family cemetery and together gave witness to the place and the people which had previously existed for me only in the words of the storyteller.
The farm and its vast holdings of land had been sold, and the grand old house and barn were no longer standing, but the spirit of the place remained;
resurrected in the voices and the laughter and the tears of reunited family and friends,
and in the clumps of silently eloquent daffodils...
I think of the Farm and those daffodils every year around this time, as I make my way about town and along the rural byways all around my own humble homestead.
The old field daffodils are seemingly everywhere,
announcing the arrival of spring, and telling and re-telling the same old tale:
A people once settled in this place.
They planted flowers and stayed a while,
and now they are gone...
but their flowers remain.
Early morning, on a vacant lot in downtown Jonesboro.
A little later, near the old Deep River dam in Carbonton.
Narcissus near where the original front porch probably stood...
Old fashioned double daffodils, many years removed from the pages of the bulb catalog.
A stone's throw away, on the shoulder of Carbonton Road (Highway 42).
Looking ahead to the Deep River bridge at Carbonton.
Just across the road, dainty golden trumpets...
Hiding near a thicket of old shrubs, more of the double daffodils...
Butter and Eggs, Scrambled Eggs, or Van Sion...?
Old names, old varieties, old voices...
Echoing the same old tale.
A little farther along, between Egypt (Cumnock) and the old Camel Back Bridge on Deep River.
Sounds the silent trumpet, solitary herald -
Where now the settlers, the builders, the planters?
What of the house and the garden?
Naught now but empty spaces,
brown and gray and neglected,
perhaps even poisoned...
and the daffodils.
Valley Road, just north of Sanford.
Another old home place...
Carbonton Road, near Cool Springs Road.
We hear you, silent sun-kissed dancers,
keepers of secrets and tellers of tales,
long and far we've traveled, restless spirits all;
you remind us both of what we seek,
and from whence we've come.
That most rare and precious place;
a place to live and to love
and be loved in return,
a place called