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Monday, November 2, 2015

THE ROAD WATERFALL

 

waterfall road near the top
where it meets air bellows gap road
 
Waterfall Road makes a very crooked half circle that connects with Air Bellows Gap Road at both ends, it too a very crooked half circle that extends to the Parkway at one end and at the other end extends to Pine Swamp Road. One end of Waterfall Road is at the bottom of the mountain where the land levels into a valley between ridges that made rich farmland for the people of the old ways in the Whitehead Community. The upper end is at the top of the mountain just a half mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Air Bellows Drive-thru Art Museum. Air Bellows Gap Road  has houses on both sides of the road at the top. In my part of Waterfall Road is a subdivision up the road to the left half a mile and a subdivision to the right half a mile, both of them out of sight. In my little valley my land is trees and donkey meadow. The horseshoe around us is Christmas trees.

the goat rock from the lower end of waterfall road

The farm down the road, only the driveway visible from the road, still leases the land to a farmer who buys and sells cattle. It is the last functioning farm in Air Bellows. The farm I worked is all Christmas trees now. Before it was paved, the road through this valley was one of the beautiful drives on earth. Now it's just another road with a grumpy old liberal hermit that lives down in the bottom and a little ways up the road a haunted house. It's not, but it makes good rumor. The house has been let go for so long, twenty-six years since old man Tom left the body, and it was imploding in his last years. He didn't care. Since then a poacher leased it for a hunting cabin several years. All of Tom's farm land is Christmas trees now. The Pruitt farm and the Caudill farm are all Christmas trees. The next farm to mine, the one continuing to function as a farm, was the old Jim Scott place. The subdivision beyond Tom's house was the old Elbert Crouse place where I used to mow and put up the hay twice every summer for several years. I used to mow the places Christmas trees grow now.

waterfall road the upper part I drive
 
I can't say I hate to see it go. I knew while working the farm that this was the end of the old ways. I wanted to experience it before it was gone, wanted to experience farming the old ways, know people who still lived in the old ways, except for refrigerators, television, bathrooms, plumbing, lights, recliners, cars, pickups, chainsaws, have a peephole look into the old-time hillbilly way of life. The changes I've seen in my forty years tell me the direction of the changes in the future. I know a few people who have deeded their land to a nature conservancy so their land can never be used for anything in the future but let go to nature. I like the idea of it. I like better not entertaining the illusion of projecting my control onto anything beyond my demise and my will. I'd rather leave my place to flow with future needs that are totally unforeseen from today. I have fair confidence Jack and Jenny will not be separated and stand a chance of living here the rest of their lives, or for a good while.

waterfall road

The road was originally a horse trail. Then wagons came along. The back side of Waterfall Road is the old road up the mountain, running along the ridge from bottom to top. Both sides of the road run almost straight down, trees thick holding the topsoil together. The road runs parallel Waterfalls Creek below, way down there. The creek is fed by the springs of Air Bellows that run over the waterfalls to become the Little River at Whitehead that flows through Sparta on its way to the New River in the northern part of the county that runs north into the Ohio to the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. I asked Tom in my first year what the old name was for this road. Then it was 1131. He told me Waterfall Road. In the year the County gave names to all the roads people along roads suggested names. Several suggestions were up for this road. I brought up that Tom Pruitt told me it's old name was Waterfall Road. And it stuck. I do love living on a road named Waterfall. The word projects such a beatific image in the mind's eye, an image of peace, tranquility, I feel privileged.

beside waterfall road
 
 
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