Shelter Rock, rock of ages

Posted 11/11/20

Boulders gray and long like sperm whales loom over land. 

One, like some stallion’s back, seems ready for a colossal saddle. 

Massive rocks stud green fields, line dirt roads, and …

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Shelter Rock, rock of ages


Boulders gray and long like sperm whales loom over land. 
One, like some stallion’s back, seems ready for a colossal saddle. 
Massive rocks stud green fields, line dirt roads, and haunt deep woods like gray ghosts. 
I had a first-class guide through this rugged, beautiful land. Former teammate, No. 53 guard Eddie Drinkard, was again leading No. 13. In another century we battled opponents. 
Now we faced massive boulders, steep hills, and a spring-fed creek winding its way to Clarks Hill Lake. 
When my column brings back memories, Eddie emails me. Recently, “Highway 79, A Historic Route,” caught his eye. He invited me to tour the northern end of Lincoln County and an excursion into Elbert County. 
On a hot, humid September Sunday we drove to Elbert County’s Stephen Heard Cemetery where Revolutionary War patriots and Confederate soldiers rest within ancient rock walls. 
No wooden or vinyl fence can compare. More rocks. Less vinyl. And boulders. Give me boulders. 
Well, that’s what Eddie would do, but first we had a rendezvous with a man with a famous name. 
At the cemetery we met Dan Tucker, descendant of the legendary Dan. Driving up in a pickup, Dan got out carrying a book, The Tucker Band. 
Not the Marshall Tucker band, his family connections to the legend, Dan Tucker. There have been many Dan Tuckers, and the Dan we met named his son … you guessed it, Dan Tucker.
“Old Dan Tucker” has a history as a minstrel song. “Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man/Washed his face with a fryin’ pan/Combed his hair with a wagon wheel/And died with a toothache in his heel.”
Heading to Lincoln County we peeled off Highway 79 onto Lisbon Road. Flutters of cloudless sulphur butterflies migrating to Florida crossed our path. Butterflies and boulders, it’s wild in this rolling land. 
Soon, Eddie would show me a massive boulder geologists call a pluton. Eddie calls it Shelter Rock. 
Seeing it meant a good walk on a scorching September afternoon, but that didn’t happen. Eddie had towed in his Kawasaki Mule, red and black, and we Georgia grads rode over the boulder-strewn terrain with ease. 
When we could ride no farther, Eddie gave me a walking stick. After a substantial walk through dense woods, I saw it. 
Spectral, it materialized through green leaves and gray trunks. Shelter Rock, festooned with ferns, stood in hardwoods on a hill. 
It looks like a submarine that’s blown its ballast tank and lunged from the sea at a steep angle. No doubt Indians used it as a lookout across the Broad River. Surely they sought shelter there. 
If Shelter Rock could talk, it’d tell you about Yuchi and Creek Indians, pioneers, colonists, soldiers, and a strange time when the Broad River stalled and water crept higher and higher. It might tell you about Dan Tucker who was too late to get his supper. 
But we know this. Shelter Rock, rock of ages, still stands—above ground and water—but all before it is gone or changed forever. 
When we are long gone, when our walking sticks have rotted, and the Kawasaki mule rests under a shed, Shelter Rock will keep on keeping on, a destination someday for others.
The rock will add them to its long, long memory. 

down south, tom poland, Lexington County


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