The Great Dismal Swamp
One thing I particularly enjoy about coastal visits is the display at sunrise and sunset. This morning is spectacular. Hovering just above the eastern horizon the fiery orb spreads a rosy cheer over everything. I turn west onto 158 and I’m in the Great Dismal Swamp. The same Dismal Swamp that slaves waded into in search of a nebulous freedom. The same Dismal Swamp that stretches to Norfolk, Virginia.
I’m the only car on the road this early Saturday morning at sunrise; I can drive as slowly as I want. Small brown-gray deer lick their reflections in the still black water. Great Blue Heron stand immobile waiting for breakfast to arrive. White streaks between the reeds betray the hidden graceful ibis.
I roll down the windows. Birds are singing awakening the new day. I inhale the sweet-sour odor of rotting vegetation. Wood Ducks ripple the glassy surface of the tannin-stained acidic water. Purple-hued marsh grasses sway as something unseen swims silently past leaving a swirling wake through the scum.
The swamp slowly recedes at this southern most point. Small bungalows stand side-by-side along the road, worn and weathered. Where did they hang those welcoming gourds, I wonder? A quilt breathes on a rope clothes line. Is it the Northern Star design? The colors have faded from years of airing in the Southern Sun. A Dollar Store, a food store, a Baptist Church with a squat belfry without a bell, the steeple sacrificed to a hurricane create a settlement with its own tiny post office. Turkeys strut toward the road from the woodland, change their minds and retreat.
A modern bridge crosses the Chowan River. The mirrored surface .....
I turn into the historical town of Murfreesboro and pass historical markers on buildings constructed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a tin shop, a blacksmith shop, lovely homes and cozy cottages, footprints and bones of those gone before. I pull up to the Hertford Academy, circa 1800, to join the reenactors. I put on my hat and cloak over my long dress and set up my bookshop. The time traveler has returned to 1864.