Where is your Rocking Chair?

Where do you need to be when the world is weary? Where do you need to be; when the world turns odd and out of bounds, where do you need to be? What do you seek? Where is your contentment?

When you pray or meditate and muse on rhyme and rhythms, Greed, taxes, Repubs, liberals, superstars, and transformers and Gods. When you pray or meditate on things that are right and wrong. On all things important, where do you go to find peace?

Mama Jo kept a yardstick above the doorframe of each room and she measured and balanced her life as easily as tracing the tip of her nose to the tips of her fingers. She stayed close to the teachings her German ancestors bequeathed to her and measured life by the yard.

Every other Sunday, after Sunday dinner, Daddy would drive through the county taking Mother home to see her family. It was a forty-five minute drive and it was taken every other Sunday come rain or snow. Mama Jo touched home base twice a month.

All nine brothers and sisters met back home in the living room where they spent their youth and where they discussed their challenges. On those Sunday afternoons, each member of the family brought home, dates, friends, new husbands, babies and in-laws. All that became family were brought to Poppa Link’s sprawling brick home on Sunday afternoon and the lucky ones drank from the back-porch well.

This is where Mama Jo came together with her sisters and brothers to tend to hearth fires and to see to each other. Before eventide, when the livestock was getting restless and there were chores to be done, when the pie was finished and the last swallow of tea. When we were ready for Monday, Mama Jo and my father stood up from their rocking chairs to begin the saying of the goodbyes.

When I had kissed the grandparents goodbye, I turned in the back seat to watch the cousins as they wave goodbye, when we pulled out of the driveway, the rocking chairs were always left behind crunched together in a tight circle. Where is your rocking chair?

We all need a safe place to call home with space for a rocking chair. It can be a familiar bed, a room with curtains that can be drawn open or left alone, or not at all. A place where we speak with ourselves; scratch our tush unseen; and whether singing along or making dreadful noises, no apologizes required?

Where I find sustenance and courage, others look away, and seek other places to call home; other places that holds their spirit content? Home is a place where only I can be me, but there is a larger question?

Like elixirs, and perfumes, where do you keep the essence of you? Where do you begin to tell the story of your life? From what point do you begin to trace your life, your roots, the best years, the learning years, and the comforted years?

Is an anchored rocking chair important in our world today? Is it very important for individuals to have strong connections to places and people?

We live in a portable world of quantum physics and narrow spaces with built-in plugs, and outlets, the world is only a plug away. We exist on trains, planes and automobiles and the cubicles of corporate fiefdoms. We live in a universe where relationships begin and end without the touching of flesh. In this universal space I can fly like a bird over the rainbows.

With the flick of a finger, I can swoop down onto the forests of the Carolina Piedmont dipping and diving above woodland maps that are more than 3,000 miles from source. Sitting on a satellite I can see the spit of land where the Abernethy Inn once existed. At the widest point in the river they operated a ferry across the Catawba River. Do we need rocking chairs, at all? How portable must a man be before he floats away?

Masks are required in a global world, but when the masks fall away; who will we be? Is it important to remain tied to a region, to carry colors and hymns of other places with us today? Is it important to know who we were to be able to find and sustain a home in the rushing currents of today?

If only the “now” counts, what is there of yesterday? Where do you put the baggage, the memories, the family myths, the truths of life? In the most technical of worlds; in the most beautifully-blended societies and cultures, it still holds true that the sum of the parts is as strong as the whole.

My story begins in Shuffletown, a once semi-scenic crossroads community nine miles from the square in Charlotte, North Carolina. Like Mother, I have yardsticks above the door arches in my home. Shuffletown is my home. These are my people. For generations, they abided in yesterday and taught me how to shoulder today.

This is my home. And, even though, I wrote the biography of home in my book, Shuffletown USA, in 2003, I still rely on what I learned in Shuffletown to get me through today. Shuffletown; the banks of the Catawba River and the land thereabouts is my home.

The currents from the Catawba River have fed and clothed my family since the NC State Hwy 16 was an Indian path; when the American Colonies were puppies; when the British Colony was christened Carolina by King Charles I, The Abernethys came to land that became their home.

As the story goes, James Abernethy and his sister, Jane, settled on the banks of the Catawba River and built cabins. Their second-cousin Jim had travelled with them on their journey from Jamestown, Virginia to the river that runs at the edge of the western wilderness. Jim married Jane, his second cousin. While James probably married the first Dunn to settle near by.

For a bit of silver or gold, they ferried travelers from one shore to the other. In their Inn they provided food and hearth for those who journey. The Abernethy Inn and Ferry was the last stop for supplies and sustenance before the pilgrims entered the western wilderness. My ancestors have tilled the same land and ferried the same river since the America Colonies were nothing more than a bag of puppies.

I think about home. I think about how other friends are able to pick up roots and relocate far from their birthplace and their growing years to find home. There are many who seem to find home along their wandering paths. I do not believe that needing a sense of place can be defined.

I often state that, “I am only one-generation away from the plow. The blood of my Scottish, Irish, English, French, and German, African and Cherokee ancestors still runs strong and it is easy to recall their yardsticks. I know because I watched my elders my fathers, mothers, and brother laid the seeds into these spring grounds life following life.

It was a time when the world ran on good sense; when we understood the importance of insincerity, and sometimes, today, in this most portable of worlds, every other Sunday I desire rambling country roads, counting cows and white horses in pastures and watching meadows roll down hill into farm ponds. Then I will dust off my apron and be on my way towards Monday.

Today, I pulled up my rocking chair and thought of Sister’s recipe for rock stew to remind me that I am only one generation away from the plow and I come from good strong, sturdy material. Shuffletown and the lands thereabouts; Southfork, Belmont, Woodland, Riverbend, Lincolnton, old Tryon County, is where I keep my rocking chair.

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