The Violet Hour

If I look at the inception of Here and Again, it begins long before the Iraq War, long before the Civil War – all the way back to the Revolutionary War.  Specifically, it started at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Or should I say, Here and Again began as I ran the Battleground of Guilford Courthouse.

I live in Greensboro, North Carolina – a city in the center of the state.  People here like to say you can get to the mountains or the ocean in about three hours.  This is a bragging point for the town.  It’s as if in life, you are either mountain people or ocean people, but here you can be both.  Greensboro is also at the center of a long, long history.  From the February 1st ,1960 sit-in at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s, where five young men, students as North Carolina A and T University, refused to be less than the men they were, to one of Jefferson Davis’ last speeches as the Confederacy fell around him, to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse where General Green fought Cornwallis, to the Keyauwee  people living and dying here for generations, and even before that, into prehistory, Greensboro is deeply rooted in the past.

So I arrived in August 2005, a late-comer to this history and not even knowing most of it.  I was, and still am, a runner and a serious student of the past.  So when I discovered the Battleground, I put on my shoes, stepped out of my car near dusk, and ran back into history.  I entered at General Green’s statue, jogged the gravel path that was Old New Garden Road, and as I descended into the hanging mist of a little vale, with its grassy rolling hills rising on my right and left, the air turned cold.  I shivered and slowed down, feeling in my body the weight of the place – the heavy presence of the past as if someone was there with me.  I looked around, noting the gray cement monuments standing like sentinels atop the rising hills.  Yet I found no other in the vale but the lightening bugs.  “Racing a ghost,” I whispered and so I trotted on.  As soon as the forest enveloped me once more, the air warmed again.

So began my love for that Battleground and all the others I have walked since.  And each time I reach that little vale, in the sweltering humidity of August or the rolling snowy slush of January, the mist hangs at dusk, the air is chilled, and I whisper, “racing a ghost” as I pass.

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