One of our crazy sons Johnny Van Eerden was playing daredevil recently as the sun set at a local park. His mother did not like the photos. But it wasn’t as bad as it looks, I assured his mother:

Because he’s got a very good hold on that ancient metamorphic quartzite.

The location, appropriately named, is Hanging Rock State Park. It is a sibling to Pilot Mountain, another nearby park. Both are remnants of the ancient chain of Sauratown Mountains, name after the Saura Native Americans, this region’s earliest known inhabitants. Composed of metamorphic quartzite monadnock, they are one of the most distinctive natural features in North Carolina.

Speaking of rocks as natural features, geologists sometimes visit Hogans creek, which runs through the northwestern edge of Magnalia Farm. Some of the boulders found in that creek are as big as small cars and, those geologist say, are not found anywhere south of Canada. They posit that it marks the point at which an ancient glacier receded,

depositing the massive stones it had carried southward.

The creek was named after John Hogan (1740-1810). Hogan, according to Wikipedia, was an “American planter and soldier from Orange County, North Carolina. He was a member of the North Carolina State Senate in 1779. Colonial records show land grants in northern Orange Count (later Caswell County) as early as 1748. There were Scotch-Irish, German, and English settlements along the Dan River and Hogans and Country Line Creeks by 1751.”

“The county was the location for the Searcy & Moore arms factory, which was at Hogans Creek, a small village 20 miles northwest of Greensboro. The factory produced firearms called the “N.C. Rifle” for the Confederate States of American forces during the Civil War.”

That’s around the time that the tobacco farmers on our land were piling up fieldstone around some of the biggest old trees in our forest. We’re using those stones now to build a wall.

These are three examples of how ancient stones, and stories connected to them in years long past, can be part of our living present. What’s more, ancient stones can help mark the way of ancient paths, which can be a help especially on trails not well-worn.

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the road, and look,
 and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is; and walk in it,
 and find rest for your souls.”

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