|View from atop Nancy Mountain in Monroe County, Ala.|
(For decades, local historian and paranormal investigator George “Buster” Singleton published a weekly newspaper column called “Somewhere in Time.” The column below, which was titled “Storms are like armies” was originally published in the May 29, 1997 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
Strange, how just about the time when one thinks that they have become an accurate weather forecaster, they then find that they know absolutely nothing as to weather forecasting. This past Saturday, the 24th of May, I decided that I would take some time off from the chores that my dear wife had assigned and ride over to one of my favorite places of rest and relaxation. Looking to the northwest, I decided that the few thunderheads floating on the horizon poised no threat of me getting wet during the early afternoon. So, I mounted my motorcycle and headed northwest toward one of my favorite places, Nancy Mountain.
As I headed up Highway 41, I noticed that those thunderheads seemed to hang lower and had become much heavier over to the west. As I raced along toward my destination, and the thunderheads seemed to grow larger and larger and become heavier and darker. I was beginning to doubt my ability to follow the weather as I raced toward the high hill overlooking the river. I knew that if I could make it to the top of Nancy Mountain, I could protect myself from the weather by getting under the pavilion there atop the high hill.
Luck was with me; I parked my motorcycle under the pavilion and just as a few large drops of rain began to fall and make a very soothing sound on the leaves of the trees and the top of the pavilion. As the rain grew harder, I knew that I was in for some time of relaxation and contentment.
I selected myself a comfortable place; I then turned my eyes toward the deep valley before me, and the heavy dark thunderheads that had gathered over the mighty river there in the distance. As the dark, heavy clouds assembled, the thought came to mind just how much they resembled a great army preparing itself for battle. I thought of the times of long ago when great armies of the past would come face to face on the fields of conflict for the battle to the death of the losing army.
I watched as the front-most line formed and drew closer together as if preparing for the great charge that was to follow. The many small clouds seemed to gather slowly and attach themselves to the rear flanks of great masses that stood ready to do battle.
Then, as if all the movements were pre-planned, great blades of lightning streaked across the front of the ready army of thunderclouds as giant swords were being flashed as a show-of-force spectacle. The foremost thunderhead seemed to boil straight up like a giant pot that had boiled to overflowing.
As if some prearranged command had been given, the mighty army of thunderheads began to move slowly to the east. Great streaks of rain looked as if a giant curtain had been dropped below the line of the mighty thunder warriors – as if their intent was to cover the enemy completely while the great army moved onward to do battle with their unseen opposition.
As I sat in awe and marveled at the great spectacle that was before me, I wondered how anyone who had ever witnessed a movement of this magnitude could ever doubt for a moment if there is a God. I felt like the writer of the great hymn “Rock of Ages” as he sought shelter on the rocky side of a cliff from a storm such as this. And as I sat there and watched with amazement, I felt that I had been led here today for the purpose of witnessing this great event, as though it had been pre-planned for my benefit and mine alone.
As the great army of the clouds moved onward to the east, the noise of the chariots and the thousands of horses’ hooves faded into the distance. The low rumble of the thunder sounded as if the battle had been fought and only a few skirmishes on the flanks of the great army were being taken care of as the defeated stragglers were rounded up.
The winds had now softened to a whisper through the tall pine trees as if saying that it was all over. Peace was being restored to the top of Nancy Mountain. The raindrops clung to the leaves as though awaiting a signal to the earth. Small animals came out of their shelters as if they had been waiting for the mighty advancing army to bring peace to their land.
I stood for a moment facing the great river and the deep valley below me. I knew once again why I had come. I raised my arms to the heavens; this was my place, the place where I could draw strength from my surroundings. This was my place where I could talk to my Creator and he would listen. And, I would know through Him that all things are possible.
Regretfully, I rolled my motorcycle from under the canopy. I felt that I was leaving a friend. I took one last look across the vast valley before me. As I made my way down the wet dirt road, these words kept ringing in my head: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.”
(Singleton, the author of the 1991 book “Of Foxfire and Phantom Soldiers,” passed away at the age of 79 on July 19, 2007. A longtime resident of Monroeville, he was born to Vincent William Singleton and Frances Cornelia Faile Singleton, during a late-night thunderstorm, on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County, graduated from Sweet Water High School in 1946, served as a U.S. Marine paratrooper in the Korean War, worked as a riverboat deckhand, lived for a time among Apache Indians, moved to Monroe County on June 28, 1964 and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from June 28, 1964 to Dec. 14, 1987. He was promoted from the enlisted ranks to warrant officer in May 1972. For years, Singleton’s columns, titled “Monroe County history – Did you know?” and “Somewhere in Time” appeared in The Monroe Journal, and he wrote a lengthy series of articles about Monroe County that appeared in Alabama Life magazine. It’s believed that his first column appeared in the March 25, 1971 edition of The Monroe Journal. He is buried in Pineville Cemetery in Monroeville. The column above and all of Singleton’s other columns are available to the public through the microfilm records at the Monroe County Public Library in Monroeville. Singleton’s columns are presented here each week for research and scholarship purposes and as part of an effort to keep his work and memory alive.)