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There’s an old stone chimney in the woods a few yards from the edge of my lawn that I can see from the window when I’m sitting at my desk.
This old chimney in East Tennessee holds many stories, not least of which are those that come into the mind of a visitor to its site and surroundings.
It stands about 20 feet tall, rising up from a notch of flat ground carved out of a gently sloping hill. Fast-growing cedar trees, poplar and black walnut surround it. It was all but invisible until a few months ago, when I cleared a path through the brush and saplings that separated it from my cabin.
I’ve lived here seven years and don’t know anything about the house the chimney was once attached to, or how old it is. Other than the chimney, there’s no evidence that a house even existed. I’ve not excavated the site, and don’t plan to in the near future, unless I’m bitten by an ambitious bug that motivates me to tackle a chore that doesn’t need doing.
This past fall, while I was pulling down some poison ivy vines that had grown up the mortised rocks, I heard glass crunch under my boot. I brushed aside the fallen leaves with my toe and uncovered the remnants of an old bottle. It had been broken a long time ago and all that remained were a few shards of thick glass with a frosty green hue. One of the pieces, a little over an inch long, was obviously the bottle’s neck and rim, where the cork would have gone. I showed it to a friend of mine who collects bottles. He said it was probably made in the late 1800s, and most likely contained medicine. That timeframe neatly coincided with the suspected age of a rusty horseshoe that I’d uncovered in a nearby daylily bed a few years earlier.
I could, I suppose, go down to the county courthouse and research the property records to find out who owned the land 100 years ago. There may even be something historical about it, but I really don’t care. I prefer to let my imagination concoct its own history.