Simpson’s Slaughterhouse vanished long ago, leaving only its name to a hill on the edge of town. Below the hill, though, are portals to kingdoms only a child and his friends can ever find; a creek, a swamp – endless wooded paths and hills along a river. Often, at the river's edge, I cache my backpack, wade in till I can’t touch, and swim current-wise, Dog beside me, tail afloat, sniff sniffing - barely above the murky green water. In a quiet cove, I dive down, down, down into a black hole to grasp at last the thick bottom mud I can not see, but that I know is there. Then, hurting, bursting, I thrust up for air! Later, I explore the shallows back to where I started, Dog still sniff sniffing behind me. Hiking home, the sounds of the dark woods and swamps, and the starlit fields and hills all resonate deep within my heart and soul.
Natural philosophy must have been born here among rock-bass nesting in shadowed shallows, with red-tailed hawks soaring, keering high above, crows crowding their oak rookery, and red foxes slinking among berries - red, black, and green. Symbol of all our ages, turtles ply the woods and waters: Some become glowing lamps, others are laced as sacred rattles, and others now rest forever on the bottom of the ponds. This sphere of lands contains all of life, death, and rebirth. My days spent finding new paths turn into seasons of journeys, of adventures: secret springs, berried slopes, Indian burial grounds, old Maramech's battle stones, yellow clay bluffs, hidden ponds, and more. A profound life-long hunger grows: One that can be fed only by yet another journey to the world below Slaughterhouse Hill.
© Francis Masat