On August 20th, my wife Lauren and I entertained a small group of writers, artists, and friends in order to dig up the mysterious structure in my back yard. The 3 x 3 foot square of cinder blocks and concrete had no clear reason for being there. It had puzzled me for 36 years. Coincidentally, the group included one building contractor, one farmer and one real estate agent.
As the reader of my previous blogs and Facebook will know, I took this mystery as a reason to offer a story writing contest about what lay beneath. Bodies? Gold or silver? Perhaps the entombment of some force that if unleashed would bring the long awaited apocalypse? Wait just a few paragraphs longer. I will reveal what was found after a bit more reflection. Indeed, the event was more about writing than what lay buried.
One of my sisters once asked my father about things that he truly enjoyed. He replied “anticipation.” His view of the world held that most of life was not what it promised. Whatever event or experience one looked forward to usually resulted in disappointment. The real value of things was in the pleasure of its anticipation. So whenever that event or experience arrived, and disappointment followed, then one should find the next thing to anticipate.
Back to the dig site, about which I withheld vital information from the potential story writers. A decade or so ago a woman knocked on my door who had lived in the house around 1930. She came with stories and a picture of the house, the black and white on on the Facebook page. A careful comparison of that picture with what you can see today reveals the corner of a barn in the back yard. She told of Wake Forest College students who boarded in the house and who, each morning, would walk the cows across the street to graze in a large open field behind the houses of the 300 block of North Main Street. In the evening the students retrieved the cows for milking.
So when we dug, we found…red dirt. The consensus of the farmer, the contractor and the real estate agent is that the cinder block structure served as either a corner foundation of part of the barn, or a level platform for buckets of milk. Why was it left there? I know. It was left for curious people to write stories about it almost a century later, and to grant the gift of anticipation to all those who are filling up my email box.