Today started early for me. I woke up wondering why I was wide awake and everyone else was deeply asleep. I finally raised up off the bed and craned my head to look at the clock. It was 5:23am. I laid there for quite awhile before falling asleep again. Light poured in from around the heavy curtain when we all woke at 7am.
We weren’t sure how the day would go because both museums we wanted to visit weren’t open. I decided our best option was to start at the local library.
Calhoun, GA is like many other small towns in the south. The buildings around town are old and in need of repair, but there was character. Things moved slow like in a haze. It could have been that running the air conditioner in the van has started to make it leak antifreeze and we are doing without it at a time when north Georgia had its first day in the 90 degree range.
John took the girls and I went to the special collections area, while they explored the kids wing of the library. I found some interesting books that I’ve decided I’ll purchase for my collection. They were Cherokee history and tradition books. I was really excited about one I found on Cherokee Cooklore.
I discovered Echota (a big difference between Old/New Echota) was not only the Cherokee capital, but a city of refuge for those who had killed someone. There were stipulations to that refuge, however. I found it interesting and useful for my novel in that Arizona’s father went to New Echota after possibly killing his wife and young daughter. This is speculation as no one has evidence of that, but everyone agreed that he was a violent man. Echota gave him refuge, but not Arizona.
After looking in a few neat local shops and a folk art exhibit at the Harris Arts Center, we had lunch from the cooler and went to look for the historic sites we’ll visit tomorrow. I’m excited about what we’ll find tomorrow. It is bringing me closer to the past that made me. At the Vann House, I got a short peek at an unfinished, large, woven reed basket that was abandoned in a Cherokee home during the 1838 removal – The Trail of Tears. It brought to me a feeling of anger and grief. I mourned for the woman who was forced from her home so quickly that she had to leave her work unfinished.
From Chatsworth, we moved on to Fort Mountain State Park. Apparently, the Cherokee met up with white folks prior to Columbus who had crossed the ocean from Wales. These men built a tower fort, which we got to see.
We read of the legends of the moon-eyed people who were fair skinned, light hair, and blue eyed. It was said they were blind in the daylight and/or during certain phases of the moon. The Cherokee claimed the Creeks annihilated them during one of their blind periods.
Probably the best thing we say today was a scenic overlook at Fort Mountain. Flat land met the beginning/ending of the Appalachian mountains in such a way that can only be described as breathtaking. I know John found it hard to breathe. 🙂
Back in town, sweaty and tired, we tried to shop at some outlet stores. Don’t go shopping without money to spend. It ruins the mood. Giving up on shopping, we searched for a local establishment to get supper. Failing at that, we pulled into Ruby Tuesday and had a wonderfully satisfying meal and spent way too much money on it. It had been while since we had eaten at a Ruby Tuesday – prices had went up! But, we needed a full meal, and it was delicious. Deladis ate all of hers and some of ours.
After picking up some coffee at McDonalds, we went back to the motel for baths and rest. I feel like things are moving sluggishly, but too fast all at once. If you can be happy and melancholy together, that’s what I am.
Kelli B. Haywood has received professional development funding through the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.