The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 12:46 pm Thursday, July 19, 2018

“Good Deeds”

By Linda Barnette

Some years ago I discovered that my grandmother Smith had been given some very old deeds by her father, WFJ Dwiggins. I did not see the deeds during her lifetime, but I did see them a few years ago when my aunt donated then to the Davie County Public Library. Obviously, I read and studied them both as a student of history as well as a family member. I was also asked to write a short summary about them for our library genealogy collection.

One deed, made on May 4, 1813, transferred several hundred acres of land from a John Boone to Daniel Dwiggins, my 4th great-grandfather. Since there were several different John Boone’s in that time period, I had to figure out which one it was.  This research led me to the John Boone who was the son of Daniel Boone’s cousin, John, Sr., who died in 1803.  Further study proved that John and his wife Rebecca had received a grant of 640 acres from Lord Granville in 1753.  This property was between Hunting Creek and Bear Creek close to the present Center Methodist Church and including the area where Boone Farm Road is now.  My grandmother told me many years ago that she had been to the old J. Boone cabin for a taffy-pulling when she was a child.

When John, Sr. died in 1803, he named his sons Benjamin and John, Jr. as the administrators of his estate, which divided his property among his 9 children.  However, just 3 years later several of the brothers and sisters moved from Davie County to Tennessee and Kentucky and gave their land to John, Jr. These are the conditions that led to the sale of the acreage to Daniel Dwiggins in 1813 and which explains the signature.

The other deed, dated the same as the other one, was for the sale of property on Hunting Creek to Ashley Crews, also an ancestor.  Other people who are mentioned in both of these deeds are also in my family line, so I was excited to learn about that too.

Because they are large and fragile, I wrote to the NC Department of Archives and History to get transcribed copies.  The lady who answered my email responded that these deeds were “rare, old treasures,” and that there are very few originals from that time period.

The most amazing thing to me about this entire episode is that the deeds stayed in the family for 200 years!  I also love knowing without a doubt that my family was one of the earliest in Davie County!

“No Do-Overs”

By N. R. Tucker

Sometimes I remember words spoken or actions taken and think, “If I only knew then what I know now…” my life would have been a wonder of achievement and delight. With the knowledge I have now, my teenage self would have breezed through high school and college. In my twenties, I would have been a symbol to all around me of what they could do if only they applied themselves as I did.

But then again, it probably would not have worked that way. If my teenage self knew what my retired self learned through trial and error, without experiencing the pain of embarrassment and the agony of defeat, I suspect those lessons would not have helped teenage me as much as my adult self thinks. Likewise, the victories wouldn’t mean much. If life worked that way, everyone would be a better human by merely reading the Ten Commandments. Knowing is not the same as experiencing. For knowledge to be useful, you must be able to interpret the information and use it correctly.

As I walk down memory lane, I realize that most of my personal growth came from failures, not successes. Success plays in my mind as a fond memory but lacks the sharp focus of a spectacular failure.

I learned to research for myself by taking someone at their word and learning they didn’t know the facts. I developed a habit of listening because I didn’t like being ignored. I discovered that a walk in the woods did more for my mood than complaining and stomping off in resentment. I found that silence instead of arguing in anger was a good plan, although I’m still a work in progress in that regard.

Knowledge is not simply data gathered and recited. It includes the emotional response to experiences. Feelings add depth and understanding to raw data, and I believe that is where real personal growth comes from.

Thanks to my life experiences, good and bad, I have learned to work hard to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself and to enjoy the journey. While I might regret parts of my past, those experiences have shaped me in ways I don’t fully understand but do appreciate. So, no do-overs for me.

“You Can’t Go Home Again

– Or Can You?”

By Julie Terry Cartner

It was Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t go home again, a statement that has always caused me a great deal of contemplation. I mean, literally, of course you can. No matter where you live, you can get into some vehicle, drive to the geographical place on the map and arrive at wherever home is to you. For some of us, it’s a longer drive than for others; however, it is something we all can do.

On an emotional level, going home is a different story. Where is home? What is home? To each person, the answer is different, as unique to each individual as are the prisms on snowflakes. When I drive across the causeway tomorrow, to a little hamlet called Orient, I will arrive at home. Truthfully, that is the easy part. After I’ve driven approximately three miles down the road, I could turn into a driveway marked by two white rocks and pull into the most beautiful place in the world, Linden Farm. There I would be greeted by the people who live there, and they would be glad to show me around the place; however, it is no longer my home.

In my mind’s eye I would see Mom, sitting on a lawn chair under the wisteria vines, smiling and waving her hello, putting her current book to the side, and standing up to greet me with a hug and a kiss. I would see Dad, hoe in hand weeding one of his many beautiful gardens. A slow smile would slide across his lean, tanned face, he’d lean the hoe against the weathered shingles of the house and greet me with a warm Dad hug. Smelling of clean outdoors, sun, salt air, and the earth, he’d welcome me home as only he could.

As we’d enter the kitchen, the savory scents of clam chowder bubbling on the stove would mingle with the cut flowers that Mom put all over the house. It may be lilacs or lavender, marigolds, and zinnias or perhaps Montauk daisies and sweet peas. The white curtains, freshly washed, starched, and pressed would billow in the afternoon breeze, and the antique furniture would gleam with lemon polish.

I’d run up to my childhood room and see the orange and yellow flowered wallpaper, the white bedspreads on the twin beds, and the masses of childhood memorabilia on the bookshelves, the walls, and the bulletin board. I’d gallop down the stairs, jumping over the squeaky one, one step from the bottom, landing with a thud, and hear the echoes of Mom yelling for me to walk, not run.

I could once have done all those things and did so many times, but no more. My parents are gone, my home is sold, and the new owner has different tastes in curtains and wallpaper.

But home is still home. When I cross the causeway, I am assailed with the sights, scents, and memories of home, never stronger than when I am actually there. I can walk down the sidewalks of Village Lane and name the residents, present or past. I can walk to the door of my childhood friend, scratch her cat under his chin, and get wagged through the doorway by one of her many dogs. I can walk on the beach and tell you the names of the rocks and show you where it is safe to dive and where it isn’t. I can go into the General Store and be greeted by someone who knew me, who knew my dad, my mom, my aunts, uncles, or grandparents. I can, and will, be told that they’d recognize my blue Terry eyes anywhere. At home, I am Jule, Bill Terry’s daughter, and one of the Terry sisters.

So yes, home changes, people come and go, and we get older. But home is still home, the place of the innocence of childhood, and the memories remain, strong and powerful, despite the differences. Home is where I can relive old memories and create new ones. Home is where people “knew me when…” and love me for it. Home is where I get to be Jule. So sorry, Thomas Wolfe, I disagree; you can go home again.

“Mountain Morning Memories”

By Beth Carter

     The cool water of Big Horse Creek calls to me as I sit on its rocky bank. I have spent hours in thought and contemplation gazing at the rapid waters as they rush over the smooth rocks into tiny waterfalls. There is just something about the running of water that calms my mind and allows the ever flittering thoughts therein to rest. I close my eyes and listen, not focusing on any specific sound but the symphony of the mix.

     Nature creates its own melodies when birds sing, water ripples, and the wind blows through the trees and combine into song. The coolness that rises from the creek rushes through and around my body and brings chill bumps to my skin. I rise from my perch almost without will and enter the cool flowing water. Thousands of rocks of various shapes and sizes attempt to trip my steps. I must focus on each step to assure my steps don’t fail, and I plunge into the creeks deep holes. As I walk, I look for any treasure that might catch my eye. Maybe a colorful leaf, a bird’s feather, an unusual rock, or piece of creek glass. As I skillfully balance myself across the rocks, I bend down to dislodge any tree limb or branch that clog up the creeks ever-flowing current. I rejoice as I free up the water to allow it to once again flow in the path for which it was intended.

      I stop once again to excavate an entombed rail and several spikes from the once active Virginia Creeper railroad that traveled along this creek. I use my hands to unearth the iron covered by layers of rock and silt. Tiny crawfish scurry along the sandy creek bottom. Rainbow trout rush to break the water’s surface to feed on dry files swarming inches above. I spy freshwater clams which will provide a nightly snack for hungry raccoons. Along the water’s edge is a plethora of fresh animal tracks including deer, raccoon, bear, and some species of large cat. This must be a favored location for a nighttime drink or swim.

      The earthy smell of decaying debris permeates my nostrils and assaults my senses. Memories of my youth visiting this mountain floods my mind’s eye. Trekking through the woods, I stumble upon an opening through a rhododendron thicket. Moss covered logs, abandoned from a long-ago tree cutting, lay against a jagged boulder. A bright, green meadow is displayed with multiple wildflowers. There among the vivid red, bee balm plants, I see hundreds of bumblebees in frenzied flight. The Queen Ann’s lace adds texture and forms a delicate border behind the bee balm. Tiny trillium and wild orchids pop up their heads in search of the sun amongst the moss covered ground. As my feet step on the luxurious softness of the thick moss, I am reminded of the shag carpet once installed in my childhood bedroom.

      I turn to head back across the creek and am surprised by a huge but delicately made spider web glistening with remains of the morning’s dew. The brown spider appears to be at rest on the webs outer edge until an unsuspecting dry fly becomes ensnarled in the sticky strands. I can’t bear to watch the fly’s struggle, so I creep back through the thicket and find my way back across the creek. An unusual shaped object catches my eye, and I retrieve the arrowhead once an implement used by an unknown hunter. I will add this to my ever-growing collection of rocks and other finds.

     I experience a completely overwhelming feeling of contentment as I climb back up the steep creek back and settle back into my spot upon the rock on the creek bank.

“A Pickle Pickled”

By Stephanie Dean

While being “in a pickle” is a bad place in the minds of some, being “pickled” is nothing less than being put on a pedestal in the opinion of southern foodies. After all, what we relish about our relish is that revered pickled pickle.

I can’t remember the last time I was in a pickle and don’t savor that predicament anytime soon, yet I relish every opportunity to enjoy a meal topped with a pickle pickled.

So how odd is it that a single pickle brings countless smiles to many faces while leaving others with such a sense of being in dire straits?

Really, just how hard is it to take a pickle seriously? The word itself evokes countless jokes and puns while eliciting ridicule, harassment, and bullying, standing in as a brunt of jokes for the ages, all at the poor pickle’s expense.

Finding correct origins for words can be difficult and the idiom “in a pickle” is even more obscure. One of the first works of literature using the word pickle dates back to 1562, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Found in an old John Heywood poem, called Proverbs and Epigrams, the word “pickell” is found in the 4th line:

Time is tickell

Chaunce is fickell

Man is brickell

Freilties pickell

Poudreth mickell

Seasonyng lickell

The word “pickell” in this proverb certainly doesn’t sound like a “difficult situation” but more like “preserving.” Preserving pickles actually has a very long history.

But here we have another more obscure meaning. In The Tempest, Shakespeare cites this dialogue:

Alonso: And Trinculo is reeling ripe: where should they

Find this grand liquor that hath gilded ’em?–

How camest thou in this pickle?

Trin. I have been in such a pickle, since I saw you last, that, I fear me, will never out of my bones: I shall not fear fly-blowing.

These words suggest being pickled means soused or inebriated with alcohol. Even though Shakespeare is credited with inventing the phrase “in a pickle,” his usage of the phrase here takes on a different meaning as one is so drunk, a body so pickled, preserved by alcohol, even the flies won’t touch it.

Other examples of the phrase are even more unclear. Then came some clarity and first usage of the phrase as we interpret it today.

Dated the 26th of September 1660, the diary of Samuel Pepys read “At home with the workmen all the afternoon, our house being in a most sad pickle.”  Neither preserved nor drunk, apparently his house is in need of repair or in bad condition.

But, we’re still no closer to the origin of the word pickle. Many credit a Dutch phrase, “in de pekel zitten” for the English idiom’s root word. Dutch linguists are unclear on the origin of “pekel” but note that its oldest usage was related to a “spicy sauce served with meat or fowl.” It’s believed the word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel.” This did not refer to a pickled vegetable but to a pickling brine or some kind of spicy sauce. The root word for “pekel” could possibly be the same root for piquant, derived from other words such as “pick” which meant something pointed. Puckering up from spicy pickles certainly gives one the feeling of a bite or sharp point to the palate. The Dutch phrase “in de pekel zitten” means to sit in pickle brine. That doesn’t sound like a fun place to sit at all. Pickled. Dutch etymology dictionaries say this idiom actually means the same as the Shakespearean meaning, that of being drunk. Yep, just another bad spot.

In America today, a pickle means a pickled cucumber. Whether wedged tightly in a jar, with nowhere to move, soaking up salty vinegar, with no options but to sit and soak, I’d say, truly, that’s being in some kind of a pickle.