A Country Rag Distilled Spirits

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Don Muscher, a builder and artist, designed and constructed his home on a hill circled by mountain crests sloping toward the water-carved cliffs of a deep river curl. Painted life-size wooden statues (some pictured below), which he sculpts with chainsaw and hunting knives, decorate outdoor areas of local shops and homes, while his wide-ranging construction skills are evident throughout Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Don, an expert on the history and reproduction of arrowheads, maintains an intriguing collection of original Indian artifacts and conducts small party field expeditions. Don has various published articles, including "Indian Relics", and is working now on a book. He can be reached by phone at (540)743-7421, Luray, VA; or by email through A Country Rag.

"The Rock" by Don Muscher

Millions of years ago I was host to many creatures of the earth, shell-like beings and more. I was at that time part of the ocean floor. The earth changed and the seas disappeared; the lands and waters trembled violently. I was raised high up and broken into smaller pieces as the ground cracked and rumbled.

Except for the shifting pressure of stone and rubble that comes and goes above me continually, I lie at peace for a very long time. The ice moves in, pushes and grinds against me. Sometimes the ice cracks me; other times it polishes me as now the river does every spring. When I was at the ocean floor, life was all around me and in me as well, but when I rested buried in the rubble, I saw and felt no life. Now that the waters of the river have washed away all that blocked my view, I feel alive again although I am not. I remember first feeling the chill of the water, then the light of the sun. Schools of fish came past, bumping into me sometimes. As the spring flood that covered me recedes, I see birds above me and hear their calls. I feel the water warming. Life abounds around me. Large furry creatures walk on the gravel and hillsides along the river. Smaller furry creatures swim by me and sometimes stop and sit on me, usually shaking themselves off just as I have dried up from the morning dew.

This morning is different. I see smoke, yet there was no thunder and lightning. New sounds are in the valley. I hear stones banging together and voices of the smoke creatures. It's been only two days since I was first aware of their noises. Now I feel some different feet on top of me. Wow! What a strange creature. It looks hurt or damaged. It has only half of its fur left. I have never seen a creature like this! It's taking the rest of its fur off and jumping into the water. I watch this stranger walk across the shallows of the river, to the other side where they make the smoke. Then he puts his fur back on and disappears into the grasses of the shore. After some time I see the smoke beings catch some of the small furry creatures and remove their fur.

Every new season more smoke creatures return with the ones from last year. This season they are carrying sticks with sharp stones on the end. I feel a sense of fear in the uneasiness of valley creatures. Every year the mammoth, mastodon, sloth and caribou become fewer. In the fall rafts laden with butchered meat and hides of the large hairy creatures travel downstream. The large cats, wolves, otter and other creatures stop regularly, resting on top of me for a drink or a try at a fish or other creature for dinner. Smoke creatures, Humans or Indians as they are known today, find me quite handy for fishing also. I often feel their warm feet on top of me and see their sticks with sharp rocks striking the river water in front of me. When the shafts pierce a fish, they help each other bring it onto the shore where they bury it in the smoke.

Where the heck am I? -- Whisk me away

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Email countryrag@yahoo.com .

"The Rock" Don Muscher March, 1997. All rights reserved.