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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Post’s ford

April 9, 1981

History surrounds this place – although some might not feel pride in dealing with a place associated with war and retreat, death and slim victories, and sometimes, surrender.
A lone, mostly abandoned marker stands among the weeds where a thin path leads down to the shallows of the river.
And I stumble down it, my head filled with images no history book will convey, trying to make sense of how this place fit into a war no one living still remembers – full of muskets and red coats, of positions held and vacated with the British advance.
Post’s Ford – once a busy crossing of soldiers’ parading feet – is now filled with quiet, except for the muffled rumble of traffic along River Drive no red coat or rebel would have recognized, although might have mistaken for the sound of some distant battle as each man flees.
I almost hear their songs in the whisper of the water, each side claiming right to patriotism, the dead bodies long buried by the mud to serve the multitude of worms and birds and fish, reeds filling drainage ditches like soldiers with shouldered guns, as March marshes into April for the outburst of spring.
Bits of pale green and yellow flicker on the tips of tree limbs, a miracle as stunning as the victories of those who retreated here made, and one can witness each year this change of season as life rises out of the otherwise dead earth, finding victory in the throes of defeat.
I search for it with each visit, celebrating each new discovery like a baby’s birth, though later, when the heat comes, the buds pop at such a rate, no mere human can keep up with them all – too many living things thrust at me at one time, overwhelming me, making me just a little sad over the loss of pleasure these earlier discoveries give.
Perhaps this is why I linger here longer this time of year, even though my morning coffee grows cold quickly and my earlobes grow numb from the still sharp air.
I feel the way a sports fan feels, who must keep faith with even a losing team, knowing that at some point the team will win, though also knowing that when it does, I will be lost in the crowd or perhaps I am like one of Washington’s soldiers crossing here in retreat, knowing some day we will rise again victorious.

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