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All things are marked by time. I remember years ago when I first came out to these sand hills-that would have been in 1970….we would have driven right past this pasture. Then it would have been loaded with hogs,now it has goats-I have never known it to be free from being under the hoof.

I first came out to these sand hills to meet a character named Arnie. Arnie was retired Army-from Boston,with a permanent accent. He lived out here in a shack-a literal shack. His job  was to over see several thousand acres of roaming pigs. They did all the work.

During the hippie days of the 1970’s there was an old black fellow that lived in Gainesville. Johnny was his name. He was a wino who owned a guitar and harmonica and used them all to make some of the greatest free style blues you ever heard. If you had a party but did not have a stereo you’d ride around and hunt Johnny and always had music. Somehow Johnny knew Arnie and everyone knew Johnnie and we all drove out to the sand hills to sit around Arnie’s lamp and get drunk and sit back and listen to Johnny.

I never knew in my wildest dreams that I’d be living in the same spot where Arnie kept a lawn chair and a  black and white TV set and his old lamp – covered in plastic to protect it from the rain. I remember what it was like the first time coming out here. It was foggy and in the wee hours of the morning. All of us packed in a station wagon and most of us drunk or buzzed in some such fashion. I remember there were some girls with us who sighed in relief when they saw the glow of Arnie’s TV in the dark and then kept remarking in disbelief that he was tucked back so deep in the woods and that there was actually an Arnie.. Then in those days the road there was hardly a trail. Taking someone down the road on a first trip at night always seemed to draw a sense of reservation on the initiates part. Arnie’s TV offering that grayish haze in the trees was almost as if a shrine was glowing through the forest.

The pasture in this picture once held Black Angus cows. The things were so dark you could never see them at night. I remember once upon a time when I had to walk out of these woods to go to work. I had to leave usually about 0300 in order to make the traffic light 7 miles away by 0530. From there I hitch hiked to work. To make a short cut-I could walk the road adjacent to the pasture and cut through the woods to Baptism Pond and come out on the highway. It cut my walk at least a third.

In the pitch black of the sleeping morning I’d get the attention of the herd of Black Angus and they’d follow my scent in the dark. I couldn’t see them-I’m not sure if they could see me,but I know they sensed something. The sound of them running up towards the fence coming out of the quiet and the darkness is an eire sound which causes that spooky feeling you had as a kid to return.

I remember the walk being so quiet that one length paralled the power line and I could hear the electric zinging through the wires.

I don’t walk the distance into Archer any more. I should-there is no need,but I still should. I do walk up the length past the pasture-but where I used to cut through and make my short cut is where I turn around. The round trip from my front door and back is 3 miles.

I like to see the span of time I’ve known this trail. From hundreds of free roaming pigs to Black Angus to now-with goats. Goats make this sound that is similar to someone calling my name. I can imagine that would have really spooked me if they occupied the pasture back in those days long gone. Even in daylight I usually feel funny hearing the sound as if someone is yelling out my name-and every time feel the fool when I turn and see it is just those goats yelling at each other. I can just imagine what it would have done at night-my jeans and boots would be running faster than me!

I have to thank God everytime I walk down this road. I thank God for giving me the years offered that I’ve come down this lane,over 39.

I still walk it-as I have said,and use the time to fellowship with God and talk about the many things that muck up life. The meditation the peace of it provides-the health of it,the fresh air and the briskness of pace pushing the blood around my body. I have the chance many times over to thank God for how my prayers were answered-prayers spoken from my heart as I walked out of these woods everyday. I asked that my sons would be spared that the way my life had been would not be the way theirs would go-the only thing I’ve ever asked for..

My prayers have been answered.

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