Place Where You Live:

Hohenwald, Tennessee

When I was a boy my father would take me to visit my grandparents in Tennessee. It was a magical place in my eyes but what stood out the most was the spring-fed pond.

It was so beautiful and so pristine that it could have been the fountain of youth, and if you got in the water it might as well have been because it was so cold you’d be numb to the rigors of age for quite some time. This beauty was almost always overwhelmed by the pungent smell of the natural mint that grew alongside the small channel that fed the pond. The smell was so loud you almost couldn’t hear the babbling of the spring as the crystal clear water entered the pond. The water was so clear it looked as though if you were to reach your hand into its depths you would feel nothing but the air around you.

Recently I had returned after not visiting for a number of years, the excitement almost killed me as I pulled into the small, worn downtown. But when I finally reached the house much of the whimsy of the previous visits disappeared. Something was different this time. I wasn’t there with the usual message from my mother: “Tell Granny and Poppy I said hello.” My father was nowhere in sight, afraid to face the sorrow of the home that he had left so broken.

I turned to the pond to try and see the beauty I remembered but it was filled with algae and a green slime that resembled some sort of toxic sludge. Just when I had given up trying to find my favorite parts of this once so magical place I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see my grandfather with the same smile he always had, and for a split-second relief washed over me. He walked with me to the channel that fed the pond, the aroma of mint filled my nostrils, and he looked at me and said: “No matter what, some things never change.”