This web domain was reserved through Go Daddy seventeen years ago when I became the owner of 83 wooded acres of ridge, hill, and bottom land along Drennon Creek, a small tributary on the west side of the lower Kentucky River in Henry County. It is impossible for me to recall the motives and aspirations which caused me to have taken such a step. Now, more than a decade and a half later, I am posting the first entry on a blog site of the same name. I hope the wait will be worth the while.
I am an older man, born and raised of the city, one generation descended from small farmers along the western borders of Kentucky and Tennessee. Until I was twelve, I spent summers and a few holidays among my paternal grandparents on these farms. These times among family, animals, cropped soils, cross-road towns, and clapboard churches imprinted deeply on my brain and have been with me for more than 70 years. At various occasions I have tried to recreate or duplicate these memories, even as my life, its setting, and its characters evolved away from that earlier past. This, then, is a story of one person’s return to one’s roots. And it’s telling, hopefully, will serve to unlock memories for others (most Americans are not many generations removed from an agrarian life) and encourage them to build a world remarkably different from today’s.
I do not think I knew for sure what I was doing or what I was seeking seventeen years ago. In my mind it was probably a retreat, an escape, some quietness. Woods, wildlife, moving water, isolation, and convenience. It was a desire to satisfy an urge with a place. Not unlike earlier subscriptions to Stout Farm Realty’s monthly listings by state. Or drives across the St. Croix River into Wisconsin’s cutover lands. Or hallucinogenic drives to LaHonda and Marin County. Or drives by VW up to Pennsylvania’s Alleghenies. (These are but chapters in the same story.) The one that matters was a brotherly call in 1972 to come home to Kentucky from Minnesota. Bride, new baby, dog, and all.
Now, twenty five years later, it was back to a place of much happiness, friends, access to Louisville home and job, and small farms. Henry County. Laid eyes on it during deer season, all three parcels under 90 day “hunters’ contracts”, realtor to call back when the contracts expired. They did, he did, I did. Three acres of meadowed ridge by the road, 80 acres of mixed hardwood and red cedar thickets on crop and pasture land abandoned 75 years earlier. At the bottom of steep gravel lane there was a gate into a quarter mile long two-track trail leading to a half-completed 16’ by 24’ cabin perched above a narrow bottom along Drennon Creek. As I have discovered over time, there was “more”, including a homesteader’s cabin, visible through the dormant trees, but inaccessible except by strenuous foot.
In March, my daughter, Mary, joined me in the woods and we walked to the old cabin. After a difficult walk and upon our arrival she blurted, “How sweet”. I thought she was referring to the cabin’s location and condition. But, in fact, she had spotted through the broken walls a metallic object leaning against an iron bed. Standing three feet high and about half as wide, it was badly rusted, with two hand welded holders at its base. Cut roughly into the metal backing with a blowtorch were the words, as though an announcement, “A Peice on Earth”. Mary’s words were uttered reverently. Little did we know then of the epiphany that was to become A Peace on Earth.