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Down by the Creek Bank
In Big Trouble
Here in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, we have an abundance of water. One doesn't have to drive far along the rural roads of our county to see the many creeks named years ago by families who lived in these mountains. Recently, mom called me to come to her home which is on the outskirts of our county seat to check the creek below her house. The trees are shedding their leaves now and she was worried the creek might get clogged and cause a wash along her property. Bat Fork Creek is only a small creek located in the Mud Creek Basin. Unfortutnately, this once pristine stream is now endangered by the ravages of industrialization. Plant life and fish that once were within the water of this small stream have all but disappeared.
As I cleared the leaves from the stream, I couldn't help but notice that there was the remains of a crude dam. My mom had told me there were kids who had lived nearby who had attempted to build a pool in the creek. I smiled to myself when she told me this remembering when me and my older sister had gone down to the creek that ran from the mountains watershed that supplied our mill village with water. The creek was not very deep, just over our ankles. The stones in the creek bed were flat and small enough for us to pick up and contruct a dam.
The creek could not have been more than 3 or 4 feet wide but wide enough neither of us could jump across at our ripe old ages of seven and eight years. We worked like a professional earth moving corporation scooping out the sand and small pebbles and carefull placing stones one top of one another. Our hard work soon begn to pay off and we had a sizable pool, at least a foot or eighteen inches deep and one we could sit down it and spash one another. We were having the time of our lives when we heard mama calling us from our house near the center of the mill village. "Robert!!!! Wilma!!! Time for youns to git on home! It's almost supper time!"
All of a sudden our laughter and joy left us, we both knew we were in deep doo-doo. There was not a dry stitch left on us. Slowly, we walked the short distance home and mama met us at the door. "Why are youns all wet?" She didn't let us explain but she seemed to already know what we had been up to,"ya'll been a playing in the creek have ya?" We knew better than to try and lie out of it,"Yes ma'am, I said ,already crying, snubbing and hoping my penitence would bring pardon for our disobedience. We had been told never to play in the creek without either she or daddy was nearby."Youn's might drown!" She had always warned us.
Well, no matter, my confession did not impress mama who was far from conferring amnesty. We soon were given a good spanking and a lecture which me nor my sister never forgot.I suppose we were just being kids and making our own fun never realizing how dangerous it might have been had the water actually been deep enough to be really dangerous, neither one of us knew how to swim at the time.
Cooling off in the Creek
The many creeks and streams here in Western North Carolina have always lent themselves for recreation and damming up a creek for a swimming hole is nothing new. Some years ago when the economy was in the doldrums, I was given the opportunity for a lack of work at the plant where I would ultimately spend most of my working years, General Electric Outdoor Lighting near Hendersonville, NC. It ws during that summer I helped one of my wife's brothers working on his farm. Theron's farm is on Rock Creek and several streams run through and near the fields he had in crops.
The summer that year was very hot and many of our family including children worked for Theron. He grew pole beans and yellow squash, cucumbers, pepper and other crops. The kids had dammed Rock Creek along one othe fields and the swimming hole was deep enough to swim. The water was about four feet deep and clear as a crystal and cold as ice. Those hot summer afternoons became tolerable when everyone took a break from the farm work and headed to the swimming hole. The kids always seemed to have their swimsuits on underneath their work clothes!
Some of the streams like the one on my Grandpa's farm were dammed when a baptizing might be held after a revival meeting. Rock Creek still is dammed and used by some local churches even some which have baptistries within the church. I myself was baptized in Green River as were many of my friends and neighbors who grew up in the mill village of Tuxedo. At twelve years of age and being a small boy, the current picked me up like a piece of driftwood, good thing the Preacher had a good hold on me. The water was so cold it took my breath.
Most farms in this area have streams and horses and cattle have access to pristine water. Some of the lakes are fed by springs and small streams. We have been blessed to live in an area where we have the bounty of Nature. Those who test water have consistently found our streams and water to be high quality. There is some movement by regulating bodies to create ordinance and zoning that might affect the use of pasture lands. hopefully good sense will prevail. The folks of our community have taken care of the water for over 200 years as good stewards.