I’m working on a book for History Press that will be titled Wicked Nelson County. Immersed in Kentucky and particularly Nelson County history for the last few months, and driving back and forth from Bardstown to Lexington has given me plenty of time to mull over the material and the landscapes in rural Kentucky. I prefer driving side roads as much as the Bluegrass Parkway.
About a month ago, after spending the afternoon at the Nelson County Public Library perusing pioneer histories, newspapers and source material from that period, I found myself scanning the fields on the side of Bloomfield Road. It being early spring, after a particularly brutal winter, and myself being the normal anxious gardener that a brutal winter (and late spring) creates, I guess I was on the lookout for any and all signs of anything flowering.
To my left, I saw a ramshackle house, rapidly being absorbed back into nature by vines and other entwining plants. But around what was probably the porch (being at the front of the hulking mass) were purple lilac blossoms peeking through the bright green leaves on the vines, and in the front were huge clusters of bright yellow daffodils. Remnants of yet another avid gardener trying to make her (or his) home beautiful, and contain nature at least on their plot of land.
Another swath of yellow to the right caught my eye. To my surprise, rows of daffodils stood erect in the middle of the field to the right, well away from the road and not exactly parallel to it. After seeing the deteriorating house, I couldn’t help imagining a pioneer house, perhaps even logs with a sod roof, sitting squarely in line with those persistent daffodils. Whispers of children running, playing, even picking bouquets of spring for the overworked Mommies cooking up spring greens at a hearth nearly large enough to walk into in a well-seasoned cast iron pot. I could almost smell them.
The remnants of our past are all around us. We just have to look…and remember.