Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Corduroy Roads, Take me Home

Photo from Google Images

This past weekend, my family and I settled into Caer David, our weekend cabin at my parents place.  Our extended family had gathered from afar to spend a few days together visiting and celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday.  We shot trap, ran 4-wheelers and played spoons.  We ate bountiful meals together and talked into the wee hours of the morning.  We made new memories and recounted old ones while babies slept and children played.

One afternoon, Maid Elizabeth and Miss Serenity and I went for a walk in the wilderness behind my parents home.  As we hiked on old, forgotten logging roads, we came upon a relic of another era - a corduroy road.  The road was little more than a remnant of rotten old growth timber, but it stood as a testament to the ingenuity and tenacity of the men who had built this country.

Corduroy roads are an old-fashioned remnant of the past.  Years ago, when men needed to move freight (or people) through marshy, boggy, low-lying lands, they built corduroy roads.  They would fell small trees, about 8 to 10 inches in diameter, cut the branches off and lay the trees perpendicular to the roadway.  These roads were usually built in small runs, through the boggy areas of an otherwise solid road.  Corduroy roads were an ingenious solution to a real-world problem, invented by men who depended upon their own resourcefulness.

I was 8 years old when I saw my first corduroy road.  My parents and I were walking behind our back creek on the property my folks had recently bought when we stumbled upon decaying logs on an OLD logging track.  My brother and I ran from one end of the small run of corduroy road to the other trying to figure out what it was.  Who would build such a thing in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere?  And what in the world was it?

Soon, we had our answer.  King, our elderly neighbor, who's parents had homesteaded our land, had helped build those roads as a child.  King's father had logged our property, using horses, nearly 100 years before.  The land has creeks and marshy areas, along with bogs and springs.  King's dad had built a bridge over the creek, using his team of horses to skid old growth Douglas Fir to span the distance so that he could access the timber on the other side.  Once he reached the far side of the creek, he realized that the ground between the creek and the timber was marshy and too wet to haul wagons loaded with logs.  And so, with his son by his side, he built his very own corduroy road.  Log by log, King and his father laid a road born of necessity, a road built by pioneers, both in spirit and truth.

I stood, gazing at that long-forgotten road and realized that it summed up the very values that had been instilled in me since childhood - self-reliance, ingenuity, resourcefulness.  That corduroy road, in its decomposing beauty, encapsulated all that was good and true in our country - in our people.

And now I watch the decomposing beauty of our crumbling society and quietly pray "Corduroy roads, take us home to the place we belong".