| BROOKGREEN GARDENS
The foundations were three feet high and made of brick. Live Oaks were abundant, towering over rutted, curving, dirt drives and preening for attention. Their wondrous crowns seeming to hug each other high overhead the massive base of the trees were shrouded by thousands of Caladiums, their heart shaped leaves all veined in a variety of the rainbow. Pinks, greens, reds, and silvers all competing for attention.
Standing atop that long abandoned foundation, sights set on the horizon so very far away, one would see miles and thousands of acres of marvelous lowland the Atlantic, not so far away. If you listened carefully you would hear the cattails, their flat spiky blades beckoning you gentle breeze setting them to song.
You could hear the calls of the past. The calls of the coon hounds. The Bluetick, Black and Tans, the Treeing Walkers and even the Redbone. Baying in a howling unison of kind and working their prey towards the trees. Skies were deep blue, just a wisp of a cloud here and there, the salt air so very fresh. The sun shone brightly overhead and one could feel the sting of summer upon their face. Voices of the past were not to be quiet.
This marvelous place had been a rice plantation and very successful. Many Irish had settled here and were hired by the plantation owners. They were paid so very poorly and were considered the dregs of humanity. The only lower life was the slave that had been purchased at auction at the wharf at Charleston Harbor. The best slaves were brought from Sierra-Leone and were familiar with the planting of rice crops.
These slaves and the Irish were housed in shabby, run down wooden shacks, usually consisting of one room with a dirt floor. Their work was an eighteen hour back breaking task.
Growing season would see the African slaves, moving through the fields in tight lines, moving rhythmically and using their father’s ancient work songs to keep themselves in unison. Women at the side of the men and worked at the same effort.
.During the harvest season the women were used to separate the wheat from the chaff using large wooden mortar and petals, pounding the rice to their will. The call of the past seeping into one’s thoughts.
There were other calls ones that would enter one’s dreams to disturb a peaceful dream to replace it with a nightmare. The calls of the past, baying hounds treeing a runaway slave. Chained and beaten for the desire to be back home, to be free again.
Calls of the past, a newborns cry, born into servitude and sentenced to a life of ignorance. If lucky they would become the carriage driver or house servant.
The calls of the past can easily be heard here. Just sitting on the small brick foundation and gazing out over the horizon. Simply close your eyes and listen. You can feel the two hundred year old humidity in the the still air. You will hear the rustle of the oaks and the calling of the cattails. Your eyes closed, you will hear the hounds and the songs of the fields. You will hear the crack of the whip and the rattle of chains. The smell of the salt air, the earth so robust and ready to fulfill. If one concentrates you will smell food cooking in the pots of the slaves, its scent not quite certain. You could hear the horse hooves, of the carriage as it arrives back at the veranda, its contents of women and children spilling out and running in all directions.
You need not great imagination here. Just close your eyes and clear your mind. It will be all yours, both good and evil, normal and not. The adventure is yours for the taking.