SCATTERED ASHES

 

Haymond is surrounded by mountains, specifically the rocky walls of Pine Mountain six miles to the east, the top of which is the Kentucky-Virginia border, with a remarkable vista like no other.

Fish Pond. You could get there, if you had a mind to, by crossing the railroad tracks anywhere along the one-mile stretch that is Haymond. The hilly part of Haymond is mostly slate dumps. During the thirty-six years before I was born, there was a lot of slate dumped. Tons upon tons.

So, once you were across the tracks, climbing the deposits left after the coal had been sorted and dropped from a tipple into trucks or rail cars, the land leveled out.

Now the long hike to Fish Pond began. A lumbering up the gravelly, grey debris, smoldering deep inside the hill sending up hot vapors with every step. What was once a ridge had become an almost flat clay bowl scooped out of the dumps and rimmed in what remained of the hickory, tulip poplar, oak and sliver maple trees standing out like the only remaining jewels in a discarded crown.

The grey stuff settled for years, giving what nourishment it could to determined plant life, mostly, kudzu, scrappy pines and brambles of blackberries.

“You can’t kill life!” My grandpa once said this to my granny Patsy after she had spent hours hilling beans, trying to keep the weeds at bay. Then he would laugh. “Them weeds’ll be back Patsy Ann!” Grandpa was dilatory, she wasn’t, her starched bonnet bobbing in time with the slice of the hoe. I had this vision once of my grandparents stepping out of a Millet painting.

But, life did get killed at Fish Pond, my uncle Hubert, to be precise. My mom’s brother…but we’re not yet there are we?

 

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