Living with the earth, not just on it.

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A VG Serial: Hills of Eden

Episode 12

The following are just a composite of images that have left lasting impressions in my mind. They are gestating, floating through my consciousness until they become transformed, indelible. Memories, after all, are shapeless until fitted into context, made orderly, filed. But I want to mention these only to spur me on to recall the wholeness of them at some later time. Put them more firmly into my mind’s data bank.

Here they are, in collage

Nameless people in campgrounds where I go, who brought me gifts they never realized I would cherish all my days. Their smiles, their interest, their love of the country. They told me of the best fishing spots, gave me directions to places off the tourist maps. They gave me their light, let me see into their good hearts.

A girl in a bank; another in a newspaper office in Branson; a man in an auto parts store in Harrison; a teacher in Alpena; a chicken rancher down past Osage, near Huntsville; some reporters, newscasters; a fisherman who designs and makes lures, and retrieves them from the trees along Turkey Creek, near Hollister, Missouri; a stranger from Iowa I met on Lake Taneycomo; some of the York family who live near Alpena, Arkansas. Some women of talent who write novels that we will someday read and feel good about. A child swimming at the Blue Hole; a sunset that hung on forever one night over Table Rock Lake; a day at Silver Dollar City that took me back a hundred years in time, left me awestruck at what we have lost, proud of what we have preserved.

Charlotte, my wife, who planted our garden, worked long hours as a pioneer woman because the earth got under her fingernails and into her blood long after she was young and strong. Who followed me everywhere and who lived primitive beside me during the years of coming into these hills, becoming part of them in the only way you can – living with the earth, rather than just on it.

Of course there are more of these memories. These are but a few that rose up in my mind, generating still other images of past and present times. I wander these Ozarks roads like a blind man, full of wonder at every turn of the road. This is being written in one of the campgrounds where I often go, some distance from my home. But the Ozarkers have given me lodging wherever I have gone, letting me hook up to their electricity, fish their ponds, hunt their woods, eat their simple food.

There has never been a place like this on earth.

These feeble words are only a smattering of the heritage of these hills as seen by a grateful immigrant, a newcomer, an outlander.

This is but a glance at some of the beautiful things to be encountered along these endless Ozarks roads.

Look deep, see deep.

Hills of Eden will be published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the title, Hills of Eden, to read more about Jory Sherman and his books.

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