Have you ever felt a secret; the physical presence of an intangible essence? Do you catch a whiff of some unidentifiable source whenever you are in a place? Can just being there change your mood? Our farm in Virginia is like that. It has a history that is unknown yet it breathes this palpable mystery as surely as I breathe in the fresh mountain air and feel its renewal in my body. Who were the first inhabitants? Historians disagree as to whether or not there was a large Native American population who made this mountain enclave their permanent home, while in total agreement that it was definitely used as hunting grounds due to the natural abundance of wildlife and to the tools and remains found here. In fact, we have a museum dedicated to the tribes of this region. Many artifacts have been unearthed as farmers plowed the soil, turning over more than fresh earth. We have a raised area in a field that we call “the Indian Mound.” We don’t know that it is a sacred burial place, but one old timer there suggested it to us. It does have a certain feeling about it that is hard to explain. We saw our first black bear there; hawks often circle, giant silvery gray squirrels called fox squirrels can be seen there as they cross the field with walnuts in their enormous cheeks. There is a great view from the mound and a feeling that is hard to explain. The view from our cabin is incredible. We built it on the highest peak but our property has no bad view. We are lucky in that. But I keep wondering what the real story is. Why were there sea shells among some of the remains found here? Did they trade with others who traveled from the east? Were crustaceans abundant here in the waters of the area hundreds of years ago? Did they live in the caves that honeycomb through the mountains that bears often use for hibernation or was it only the wigwam that provided protection from the elements? (The Wolf Creek Indian Museum has a rebuilt village where one was unearthed during the process of building I-77 through the mountains in the 1970’s, to the exact footprint of what was found. This included several wigwams as opposed to the traditional teepee. Women and children were included in the burial site, which seems to contradict the theory that this area was reserved solely for hunting.) There is a scent that wafts up to me at every season of the year, ruling out blossoms and even most grasses. I have touched every tendril trying to find the source of its herbal perfume? Is it a wild thyme or lavender? It’s source evades me. It is never a constant aroma, only a wave of essence that is like a finger wagging in front of my nose urging me to come further. Is it the breath of the Great Spirit? The sage from sacred cleansing? It is a mystery that maddens and beguiles me. And for now, the earth is keeping her secret.

Advertisements