|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 “Sighing winds signal approach of Indian summer” was originally published in the Aug. 16, 1990 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)
The cool mornings and the sighing winds give evidence that Indian summer is soon approaching. Although the days continue to be hot, the cool breezes during the evenings tell us that better days are ahead.
The desire to wander and seek the high places are foremost on the mind as the corn in the fields takes on that brownish color. And the sighing winds across Nancy Mountain tells one that a change is in the air.
The desire to search the wooded areas for the wild grapes and muscadine vines is fast becoming an obsession. The dreaded “Dog Days” will soon fade into oblivion, and the desire to ignore all chores around the house and obey the call of the vagabond clouds the brain.
The rippling waters of the mighty river haunts the memory as impatience grips the soul. The time of peace and the time for the gathering of thoughts is soon at hand.
Such a pity that the leaders of the world can’t envision the meaning of peace. There is so much for man to enjoy that was put here for his pleasure, yet he continues to ignore. We stumble by the beauties of life, not realizing that total happiness is at our fingertips. We destroy and mess up our surroundings in the name of progress, and then wonder why our world has gone to pot.
Life is so temporary, yet we gather our wealth and material things as though we will be around for a thousand years.
As the golden sun began its westward journey toward the distant horizon Thursday afternoon, I would venture to say that only a pitiful few even took time to notice. The Master Painter, with all his patience and skills, stroked the western skies with his colors, more beautiful than mortal man can imagine, and yet, most of us ignored his handiwork.
We have let the dollar signs blot out that which should be so meaningful in our lives. We trade peace of mind and contentment so that we may stay in the race of our societies to gather the material things we deem important. And, as we sit in front of our television sets and view the world situation, we dare not understand from where our trouble comes.
We place great value on our material assets. But, as an old man once told me, he “had been to three state fairs and two goat ropings and had never seen a trailer hitch on a funeral hearse yet.” In other words, we can’t take it with us.
As for myself, I wait for the cooler days and the many trips around the countryside that beckon to me. I can’t wait for the challenge of retrieving those delicious opossum grapes from that high tree or holding a hat full of those juicy muscadines in front of me while sitting and listening to the sighing winds across Nancy Mountain.
I’ll have an hour or two of restful sleep, with a rock for a pillow, while the winds play a lullaby through the tall pines. Or, perhaps, a nap by the mighty river, as the rippling waters slowly make their way to the great ocean many miles away. There is no substitute for this kind of life, I know.
If, however, you should choose to go the way of the vagabond, I must warn you that life will never be the same. The things that seem important in your life today will fade into the far corners of the mind, and visions of the high places and the calling hills may become an obsession. Sardines and crackers and a cold root beer will become the staple diet, and the cool places atop the beckoning ridges will haunt the mind forever more.
And, as you grow more professional in this art of being a wanderlust or vagabond, you will learn how to catch a nap while leaning against a tree or using a rock for a pillow, while the soft pine needles serve as a comforter to rest on. You will become an expert in the art of making excuses so that you can get away for just a few hours.
The sounds of the sighing winds and the rushing waters of the great river will forever haunt your mind. You will find yourself talking about this way of life each time someone asks you a question. You will notice, too, that your friends might whisper behind your back and point to you when a group gathers.
But never you mind, they will only be jealous. You will have the peace of mind that they wish for. You will have the satisfaction of knowing where peace can be found. And you will know the feeling of raising your arms to the heavens while resting atop a high hill, and knowing that he is near your side each time you call.
(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.)