Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.
The Author's Blog

Soldiers and Crickets

Saturday September 16, 2006
By David Fleming

Hear the crickets for yourself, along with acoustic guitar:
MP3: Soldiers and Crickets (6.6MB)       sample (0.6MB)

The tadpoles are gone, and the streambed is much grassier than it was back in June. This late summer day is carried by the gentle soft hum of crickets, their song that welcomes fall.

The Big Spring Fork behind the Field

The innumerable stones of Big Spring Fork are today laced and bordered with an increasing decor of fallen leaves. Their browns and turning greens complement the grey stones. With summer's flowers now gone and the cool telling breeze signaling the soul, today is more fall than summer. Inside we know this, that we concur with the crickets.

On today's walk, I make my way to the field as I did before and find a path to the tree, the Old Guardian. I take my familiar seat by its side and absorb. For a long time. The crickets' song is both embracing and fatigued. Calming to hear, its lyrics speak of the long and trying summer now gone, and of the promised rest that fall always brings.

We have seen many seasons come and go, as of late, regarding the efforts to take Sharp's field by eminent domain for a sewage plant. We have seen Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) chairman Calvin Hill speak of his unhappiness with the way the project is being handled behind "closed doors". We have seen him resign, unfortunately. We have seen justice denied when the WV Supreme Court, at the recommendation of the WV Public Service Commission (PSC) and PSD, refused to hear the appeal that would have required a properly determined 20-year plan for the plant, as opposed to its short-sighted, illegal 10-year capacity. And we have also seen U.S. Senator Rockefeller's statement of concern about eminent domain; that a private company can be "included in the decision making process"; that he too values the "protection of the historical and culturally significant areas of West Virginia."

The Old Guardian, a New Season

However, there is one season which has not changed; which is long overdue for a change. Throughout these past few years, an aged iced winter of cold and callousness has persevered. Despite all recent developments, concerns, and outcries, the Pocahontas County Commission—overseers of the PSD and the champions of the charge to take Sharp's land—has refused to relent in its efforts.

Not too many seasons back to be forgotten, in the 1860s our nation and, very tangibly, our Pocahontas County, was in the midst of a great Civil War. Pivoted upon the issue of slavery, brother fought against brother. Bernard Sharp fought against Henry Sharp.

Today, Pocahontas County is the stage for a New Civil War. Pivoted this time upon the notion of what's best for Pocahontas County Herself, this new conflict pits landowners' rights and conservationists against the interests of developers. And again, quite possibly, brother against brother.

With black powder pens and legal document canons, shot upon shot has been fired, casualties have amassed. In this war of preservation against the dollar, I have fired many shots myself. I have decided what is more important to me. I know what it is that I fight for, what it is that I believe is best for Pocahontas County. Like all those who have chosen to stand against the dollar in this war, I value Slatyfork for what it already is. Quiet. Serene. Scenic. Historic. Clear-watered. Not full.

Where Soldiers Rest and Crickets Sing

Still seated by the Old Guardian, I close my eyes and try to imagine the pleasant evenings of this time of year when Civil War soldiers rested in these Pocahontas County fields. When they too were absorbed and solaced by the peaceful hum of the crickets. What were the concerns in their heavy minds? What future was it that permeated and disturbed their thoughts? What restless fears in them tightened their chests and turned their guts? And did the crickets allay these bothers for them as well? I think so.

One cannot sit in a Pocahontas field without the resonance of past and future ringing about. She won't let you. She bears the weary souls of soldiers past and present. She extends the comforts within the songs of Her creatures. She thunders and freezes, She dries and warms. And while She is the ever-changing seasons in our hearts, She is also the constant of why we love it here.

Rest well, soldiers, in the Hymn of Crickets, and hold.

Hear the crickets for yourself, along with acoustic guitar:
MP3: Soldiers and Crickets (6.6MB)       sample (0.6MB)