I’d Like to Wander Back

Wandering back in time is a common theme in Terry Thornton’s writing. He lives in the hills of Mississippi and writes about the history and heritage of the area. His work strengthens my belief that we need to understand what went before to gain a hope for the future. Over the past few weeks I’ve become a devoted fan of his writing.

Terry has an incredible memory and documents not only personal details about his childhood but also describes in detail the landscape and how it has changed or in some cases simply disappeared.

I live in the same mountain holler I grew up in and Terry has inspired me to think of the changes I’ve seen in my life time. If I could show my girls what the landscape looked like when I was their age, I believe they would have trouble recognizing it’s the same place. One house is gone, 5 have been added, fields have turned to lawns, and many trees are gone.

Once a relative who had come for a visit teased me about “pig trails” in the holler. He was talking about the worn footpaths between the houses.

I’ve always been intrigued by the trails and old road beds that run through the acreage surrounding our land. Pap can remember when they were traveled by people, wagons, horses, and a few cars.

Growing up we had gravity water (water that came from a spring up the mountain). I always liked going up the creek with Pap to check on the water. He would tell me stories about the corn fields that use to be on the sloping sides of the ridges, he showed me where a stone stable had stood for horses, and he’d point out old house places and tell of the people who had lived there. Even though the houses were long gone having been erased by the woods, Pap made it all seem real to me. All that remained of the homes and fields was a pile of rocks or a few flowers planted by someone I’ll never know. But the houses, fields, and people remain in Pap’s memory.

When I travel the trails and road beds with my girls I point out things that have changed since I was a girl. At one creek crossing I can recall 3 or 4 remaining logs of a bridge rotted and turned green with moss. There was a whole car door leaned up against a mountain laurel-now its rusted into just a few pieces. And many of the trails have grown up with saplings and weeds cause there’s no need to walk them.

I’ve always thought if I could sit quietly by one of those trails and wait patiently-eventually I’d be able to see some of those folks who traveled them, I’d be able to hear their voices. Maybe it’d be some of my ancestors walking to check on a neighbor or work in the corn, maybe it’d be some settlers who lived before Pap’s time, maybe it’d be my cousins, my brother, and me walking, arguing, playing, and keeping the paths wore.

There’s a happy child at home In my memory I can see Standing out upon the hill neath the shadow of the tree If I only had my way It would give my heart a thrill Just to simply wander back to the Cabin on the hill Oh I want to Wander back To the Cabin on the Hill Neath the Shadow of the tree I would like to linger still Just to be with those I love Joy my heart would over fill And I want to wander back To the cabin on the hill

B.L. Shook


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  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    December 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Tipper:how id like to wander back, my dads last sentiments,before he left this life. as you know he was from hazel creek, he talked about it a lot, he would describe it like it was yesterday that he lived there. i am sure it was not all as perfect as he remembered, but to him it was like heaven on earth.in 1957 he took my mom,my two brothers, and my little sister back to swain county,to show us just how fine,the hills of rhododendron,s and wandering streams. i remember on the hillside farm of an elderly couple a woman was plowing behind a mule,and the man was rocking on the front porch,dad said were home!were home! i cant repeat what mom said,just kidding.k.o.h

  • Reply
    May 25, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Wonderful pictures of your paths. Your words gave me goosebumps. I’m always thinking of the people who have passed our trails before. I no longer live in the Blue Mountains of Oregon where I grew up, but after hearing this week from a childhood friend, I have been 20 years in the past all week, walking again those trails of my mountain home.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Great post! I love hearing about your surroundings and how you pass it on to your girls – thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I love your take on life. I love the fact that you think about the past and tell your children about it. Your a great writer.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    i love reading your ramblings about the countryside where you live. yes, even in north san diego county where i grew up on the beach, things have changed radically. there was nothing between the coastal towns and the mountains, now it is solid. same with kauai and i am sure, same thing with here in da UP, but it is still pretty much rural.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    That’s such a great post. I love that you can talk about the change in the trails and the creeks. I grew up in a small logging town in the Northwest, and, unfortunately, most of my stories of change begin “back BEFORE they built the McDonalds …”

  • Reply
    May 14, 2008 at 9:54 am

    It sounds like a wonderful place to grow up.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    May 14, 2008 at 12:37 am

    You live in a very beautiful area. You are so lucky to be there and to share it with your children.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    May 13, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    I agree, Tipper–Terry’s site is a treat to visit. What I love about blogging is exploring other people’s worlds through their words and pictures. You do the same things with your blog, and it keeps us coming back to read more. Making home real and remembered is important. That’s why I’m a storyteller–to help people remember their past, their families, their roots. Deep roots are what keep us strong.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I remember when we lived in tenn. we used to take old trails through the woods to our “neigbors” Benny and June. It was about a mile hike and there was always something to see..wether it was a snake sunning itself or a animal or just SOMETHING! Thats what I miss, all the beauty to see and observe in the woods!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 13, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    I loved spending time at my grandmother’s. I wandered the fields, barns and creeks. We always found Indian Arrowheads after the garden was plowed. I had great fun imagining a time when the Cherokee Indians roamed those same fields.
    My Grandmother grew up on the mountain behind the house where my father grew up. A stone chimney was all that remained.
    Great post! reminds me of another time, when life was simpler and values were more important.
    I would invite you, also, to have a moments thought for the future. To the day when those two beautiful girls of yours, Chitter and Chatter, walk those same trails with their children and relate some of the same stories—and some newer ones. Like—-when my mother started a Blog and posted stories and pictures about these same trails!!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    That is really nice that you have all those stories to pass on to keep it alive. You should write them down, maybe it will come into a creative writing piece of your own. I grew up where a lot of American history happened under my feet, the Battle of North Point from the War of 1812, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_North_Point

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    What a great heritage you have. And a talent for writing, too! Someday you could turn this into a book, ya know.
    I have been trying to email you regarding my etsy purchase from you. It was the first time I had used etsy and now I can’t get back in, so I need your address and the total for “Take A Number.” I’m so excited about this piece — I just love it! But I bet you’re wondering if I’m going to pay for it. I am, but can you email me and see if it will go through? Thanks.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    May 13, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    How neat that you’ve lived in the same place where you grew up, and now get to raise your family there. Things are always changing…I so agree with you that it’s incredibly important to understand and remember the past to have a successful future. I’m just a nostalgic type, and even though I feel like I should have been born 100 years ago, perhaps even a hundred years ago I still would have felt that way!

  • Reply
    Terry Thornton
    May 13, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for the kind words and the link. They are most appreciated.
    It is always good to learn of another HOGS Blogger — a term I created to described writing more than just about who begat whom when and where and who died when and where that so many genealogists seem just to consider. HISTORY, OBSERVATIONS, GENEALOGY, and STORIES can be combined together to really understand the past — and I’m glad you are doing HOGS writing!
    Keep telling your family their stories — and know that they, like you retelling some of your inherited lore, will tell your great-grandchildrens grandchildren your stories of what life was like when you lived it.
    Terry Thornton
    Fulton, Mississippi

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    My Dad and I used to walk in the woods at my Grandma’s house and he would tell me stories and teach me about what we would find along our paths. Very good and cherished memories.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    What a beautiful post, Tipper. You are so blessed to have such roots.

  • Reply
    May 13, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Oh I love woods! All we have around us is fields. I would love to have a wood in which to wander!
    My eyes get hungry for trees!

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