|George 'Buster' Singleton|
(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 “Mysteries of the autumn season are fascinating,” was originally published in the Nov. 25, 1993 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
Since early childhood, I have been fascinated at the changes that take place during the fall. The blooming of the spring season and its blossoming beauty is not to be denied, but the mysterious feelings that come with the autumn season causes strange behavior among many.
For example, today (Saturday) when all ears were glued to the radio or many had traveled to watch their favorite football teams battle each other on the gridiron, my feelings were elsewhere.
I would have preferred to stay home and enjoy the warmth and comfort and to have listened to that special game between Alabama and Auburn, but this was not the case. Yielding to a strange calling, I knew that I must go up on the river to an ancient Indian village site.
Braving the chilly autumn air and heavy traffic on Highway 41 North, I proceeded toward my destination. Not knowing why I was going, or what I was to see, I sped northward.
After securing my transportation, I made my way across the rough terrain to the high hill that overlooked the ancient village site and the river in the distance. I had been to this exact spot many times; the heavy blanket of fallen leaves covered the hill as though an unseen hand had spread them there. The only sound that could be heard was the sighing winds, as it whispered through the pines and now almost-bare hardwood trees. As I faced the western skies and the glowing autumn sun, I wondered why I had come.
As the autumn quietness seemed to close around me, a faint familiar sound reached my ears. High in the sky above me, I saw the faint outline of a flock of wild geese.
As they stretched out in a long, thin line on their way south, I knew that my journey had not been in vain. Standing there, listening to the calls of the wild geese and the sounds of the sighing winds, I wondered if anyone else, anywhere in the area, was as fortunate as myself.
The beauty of the flight of wild geese against the early evening skies caused me to raise my arms toward the heavens, as if I was an ancient medicine man or wind walker of the ancient village that lay on the steep hillside below me.
The calls of the wild geese faded on the chilly winds as quietness settled once again there on the hilltop. Looking down on the ancient village site, it seemed as if the smell of long ago cooking fires had mounted the evening air.
I thought of an evening such as this 500 or 600 years in the past. Probably the men of the village would be returning from a day’s hunt with wild game for the evening meal. And, there on the glowing coals, would be roasted wild yams and baked squash, with hoecakes of rough bread smoldered on the baking stones at the fire’s edge. Fresh spring water waited in the baked clay earns some distance from the cook fires.
As I stood there in the quietness of the early evening, I wondered if those who had occupied the ancient village below me had experienced the feelings that rode the winds with the coming of the autumn season. Did the strange desire to wander and see what was over the next hill affect them as it had me?
I wonder if they, too, had strange callings to certain places for reasons they couldn’t explain. Did they, too, have to wander periodically through the high hills to the northeast? Or were they content to just sit by the campfires and play the games that entertained them, just as we do now in this day and time.
Why had the flights of the wild geese during the days of the late autumn play such an important role in the lives of these people? Much of the coming months was previewed and predicted by the wind watchers after watching the flocks of geese as they headed south to warmer climates.
As a boy, I had heard the many tales of how one could tell of the coming seasons by the lines of flight of the wild geese as they headed south. My maternal grandmother would sit for hours and relay to this wild-eyed young boy those many stories that had been passed down by her ancestors.
Standing there in the quietness of my surroundings on the hilltop, I remembered a tall handsome woman with long jet-black hair relaying these stories to her small, excited grandson there by a warm and cozy fireplace.
To further add to the perfection of the evening, down the hill aways, a wild fox barked. And slowly through the heavy carpet of fallen leaves, an armadillo made its way up the hill in search of its evening meal.
Passing within a short distance of where I stood, the searching armadillo continued to scratch for that tasty morsel, hidden somewhere beneath the heavy blanket of fallen leaves.
As I turned to leave the quiet, colorful hillside and its beautiful autumn colors, I felt a feeling of contentment. I yet didn’t know what caused me to leave an exciting football game and venture this way. But, now that I had come, I was glad that I had.
The chilly 20 or so miles that stood between me and a hot cup of coffee shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, even though in my haste to get here, I had forgotten my warm jacket.
Heading southward through the Finchburg community, the chilly winds penetrated the sweatshirt that I was wearing like sharp needles. The sound of my chattering teeth reminded me once again that my warm riding jacket wasn’t doing me any good hanging in my clothes closet 20 or so cold miles down the road.
Oh, well, some of us are just born to do foolish things; that’s what makes life so amazing.
(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 on Dec. 14, 1927 in Marengo County and served as the administrator of the Monroeville National Guard unit from 1964 to 1987. 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.)