Saturday, August 12, 2017

Singleton blames 'vagabond blood' for lateness during Sunday sunrise trip

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 “Watching the miracle of a summer sunrise” was originally published in the July 21, 1994 edition of The Monroe Journal in Monroeville, Ala.)

The town was quiet Sunday morning as I eased my iron horse onto Highway 41 and headed north. I could imagine most everyone in the Hub City yet in bed, enjoying that last-minute nap, and I descended the hill to Limestone Creek.

After being waterlogged for the past few days from the heavy rains, I just had to get loose and visit some of my favorite spots that I had been neglecting because of the weather.

As I sped up the road and glanced to the east, I could tell that I was in for a treat if I hurried to that favorite hill yet some distance away. The eastern sky was beginning to lighten, and for a change, there wasn’t a cloud anywhere in sight. I had the road all to myself, so I applied the spurs, and within a few minutes, I was dismounting atop my favorite hilltop.

Brushing off that special rock I usually sit on, I felt a bit of sadness for those I had left behind, those who had chosen a last moment’s nap instead of being an eyewitness to a miracle.

The eastern sky looked as though a giant brush had begun to sweep away the deep reddish purple that covered the horizon. The piercing rays of the rising sun streaked upward and across the eastern horizon as though a gigantic volley of fireworks had just been ignited across the vast valley before me.

Then, though the heavy mist that hung low over the huge valley, a rising ball of deep reddish orange appeared ever so slowly as the morning sun seemed to rise from its place of hiding. The mist across the large valley before me seemed to be pushed aside, as though a giant unseen hand prepared the way for the rising red ball of fire that appeared from nowhere on the eastern horizon.

Again, for a moment, I thought of those who yet lay in the sack, missing the miracle of this morning’s sunrise, I thought of the many thousands of dollars that had been spent and the many miles traveled by those seeking to witness various happenings that would never compare to the miracle that was before me. And to view all that was before me had cost me nothing.

The huge ball of orange reddish fire now sat on the edge of the eastern horizon as though it had been placed there with great care. The misty haze had all but disappeared from the deep valley before me, stepping aside to make way for the coming attraction. Now, a space of light could be seen at the bottom of the flaming orange ball and the eastern horizon.

All across the huge valley, the plush green timber seemed to reach for the heavens, seeking a touch from the fingers of that life-giving light that danced through the atmosphere. While across the huge valley below me, the whole world seemed to come alive with the sounds of the morning.

Across the bottoms, birds of all types took to the air, as though a signal had been given that the hour of dawn was at hand. The trees that grew on the bluff below me came alive with squirrels, as if they, too, had heard the call of the morning awakening. Off to my left, a fox barked as it heard the dawn breaking.

Realizing that I had left my place on the rock and was now standing, I watched in awe at the change across the valley before me. Those who had stayed in bed for those last minutes of sleep had missed a spectacle almost too wondrous to describe. The passage of time played no part whatsoever in the magnificent event that I had just witnessed. Time had seemed to stand still there on the hilltop where I was standing.

The feeling of just how small man is when compared to the vastness of our universe seemed to settle around my shoulders. I was reminded again that man does not and cannot control the happenings of our universe. We are here only because we are allowed to be here.

The bright morning sun had now pushed the remaining shadows from the high hill. The morning activities had by now gotten into full swing in the huge valley and the high hills that bordered it. The fresh air further lifted my spirits as the events that I had just witnessed raced again through my mind. A feeling of sorrow again came over me for those who had missed that which I had just been allowed to be a part of.

As I made my way out to the paved road, the quietness of the morning  seemed to draw me ever so strongly toward the distant hills to the north. I yet had time to take just a short ride up through the hills before returning home to begin the morning. A few minutes more wouldn’t make any difference; the fresh morning air beckoned me onward. Just a few miles more, then I would turn around and make my way south to my driveway from where I had started.

The plush green beauty of the countryside was almost breathtaking. As the winding road seemed to weave its way through what looked like tunnels of the standing timber, I knew that I had made the right decision to come this way on this most beautiful morning. I had been a part of a morning worship in which not many get to participate. I had witnessed God’s handiwork at its greatest.

As I sped along admiring the beauty around me, I must have lost track of time. Glancing at the speedometer of my motorcycle, I realized I had ridden over 56 miles since leaving my driveway this morning before sunrise. Oh well, I can always blame my wanderings on that mean old vagabond blood that flows through my veins. But then again, that vagabond blood has its good points too – wouldn’t trade it for anything.

(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, graduated from Sweet Water High School, served in the Korean War, 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 1964 to 1987. For years, Singleton’s column “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. Some of his earlier columns also appeared under the heading of “Monroe County History: Did You Know?” 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.)

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