I start off walking towards the river. It has always been there. I don’t know how many centuries it has flowed its current course, but likely it has been many. The center of the little town grew up around it’s flood plain, copying the footprints of the Cherokee who lived here and the mound builders who preceded them.
More than likely, even older Paleolithic people inhabited this area over 10,000 years ago as exhibited by Russell Cave in Alabama and the artifacts found there. I think there may have even been some Clovis points found in this area.
I like the spirituality of the land and its lay. This area is one of the most Geologically stable and least changed in this country. Things are much as they were in terms of the land for these past many centuries now. I feel this as I walk.
I imagine a time when the rivers were filled with gar and sturgeon, and even occasionally a bison would wander this far south. When bear, puma and wolf roamed here. When huge trees grew uncut and blocked off the sunlight to the forest floors. I wonder at how the progress of mankind has shaped those bygone days into what I now see on my walks.
Oh I can imagine that life was extremely harsh for humanity in those years. A day was filled with the immediate needs for survival. Food and shelter…clothing. But by and by things got better. There was agriculture, There were the beginnings of government amongst the red man. Especially advanced with the Iroquois nation. What might have developed from these beginnings I often wonder?
I have read in history where the natives of this country were of much more robust and good health than the first Europeans who came here. They were just not resistant to the diseases which came with the white man and between measles, smallpox, and other contagious sicknesses 8 out of 10 of them perished within the first 100 years of contact. The rest were swept aside like dust on a clapboard floor.
Sometimes now as I walk along the bank of the Chattooga river I hear faint voices on the wind whispering “Why, why?” For that question I have no answer.