Homesteading on Persimmon Ridge

| 2/8/2017 9:24:00 AM

Tags: Betty Taylor, Persimmon Ridge, Tennessee,

It is our destiny to draw the dragon’s fire while mainstream culture hides behind its disintegrating deficit, damning us for its complacency. —Gene Logsdon from and describing “The Ramparts People”

Persimmon Ridge shares its secrets only in the wintertime. Most of the year, a tangle of ankle-grabbing vines and prickly briars guard its entrances to foot traffic, obscuring old roads and lanes. Biting hordes of ticks and chiggers join forces with the green wall to keep out intruders. But in winter, the vegetation recedes and the little beasties sleep, if only briefly.

My struggling little honey-and-goat farm sits at the western base of the ridge. My drive way was once an old road that wound through my property and on up to the ridge top. The eastern slope of the ridge is home to a small settlement of mostly related African-American families who have been there forever it seems. Between us live only flora, fauna, and ghosts.

Between us lies a forest upwelling of persimmons, red and white oak, hickory, sycamore, beech, and other hardwoods--home to deer, wild turkey, raccoons, possums, bobcat, owls, hawks, squirrel, rabbit and, the neighbors and I believe, sometimes a mountain lion. The ghosts I speak of are in the bones of the old unpainted houses and of the barns built without nails that decay into the ground along the old road. Trees grow up around and through these old houses and their outbuildings, obscuring them from view on a casual walk.

For many winters now, I have frequented the ridge. When it is passable, I walk the road that disappears into the underbrush behind my chicken coop to start the climb. As I amble along lost in thought, I often look up to find haunted windows, shedding splintered panes of glass, staring back at me.

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