Wednesday, February 12, 2014
New Leads to Old
My last post was all about seeing something new; doing something different(ly). I think that ultimately, I'm just burnt out on my mtb, lately. Winter brings the dark, and dark traditionally limits us to mtb night rides. Truth is, we limit ourselves. Last week's night cx ride opened my eyes to other dark options.
I brought up the desire to do a dedicated clay road ride and the crew jumped all over it. Last night found 7 of us rolling into the twilight, while the clay roads unfolded beneath. Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I for one was just plain stoked to be doing something new.
This morning I was looking at the map of our route. I was looking at other options, kind of like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, I read as a kid. What happens if I choose this turn over that other? I had this one particular right turn in mind. I zoomed out on the map, followed the little track through the trees to the north, and see that it pops out just south of Blackshear Rd, off Thomasville Rd. Blackshear rings a bell deep in the recesses of my memory. I dig a little deeper, and it all comes to the surface. The aerial photos became a playground map of my youth. My grandmother lived on Blackshear, when my Grandfather was the superintendent of Hines Hill Plantation. I see the roof of the little old house, and it looks like the pond out back has succumbed to algae or lily pads. It looks so green compared to the black water I remember being told to stay out of during family events in that backyard. A slide show plays instantly at the thought of that pond out back. The green grass backyard as big as all the world in my child's eyes. Family scurrying about, as my Dad and his Dad fried fish in the cookhouse. Aunts and Grandmother shoeing us away from underfoot, as they carried pies and other goods down to the picnic area by that pond. Running around with a stick of some sort that made the perfect sword, fishing pole, wand or whatever else was needed in any moment of unbridled. imagination.
I look just north of Blackshear and I see where my old house used to be. It was referred to as The Cracker Shack, back then. I wonder if that was a pet(or derogatory) name my Mom and Dad made up for the place, or if it was "officially" known that way by the plantation in general. I follow the smaller plantation tracks through the woods, to the 3 Small Ponds I always bragged about. "Where I live, we have THREE ponds in the woods behind the house!" In my mind, it was quite the brag, in the 2nd grade. We rode bikes all through those woods. My first bike was a Huffy that looked like a dirtbike. 20" knobby tires, fenders, number plate, the works! My brother had another 20" wheeled bike, with a bass-boat red banana seat, sissy bar, and apehangers. Dad would take us out on those roads, my brother and I on our own, while the youngest brother rode in a child's seat on the back of Dad's Sears 10spd. Knowing what I know now, I honestly don't know how he rode those skinny road tires on those dirt roads, with all that extra weight, and absolute garbage for brakes. Riding 2 rut roads covered in pine straw from pine trees that had to be at least a million feet tall.
The Cracker Shack is gone now. It makes me sad seeing that. Reality is, it was ancient when I lived there and that was a loooong time ago. My first thoughts when seeing it replaced by a big storage building were bitter. My history replaced. But that old house was probably long past any functional use. That old house was home for awhile, and now it will always have a home of its own in my memories.
I think I'll be taking that right turn I was looking at, in the near future. If I remember right, there was a little church at the end of that road, just before the highway. I think I'll go see about that. I think I may need to see if I can get into my old yard, too. The house is gone, but I bet the roots of those memories are still planted pretty deep in that piece of earth.
Last night's ride made me happy... because it was something new. But today, seeing how something new can tie so deeply into fond memories of my past, well, that was a very unexpected gift. One that makes me infinitely more happy that I opted out of the same old, same old, and opened another future door to my history.