Green Hole

Green Hole ~ Goose Creek

I have probably told this story here before, but retelling is one of the privileges of age–partly for the joy of the story and partly due to CMS. So I will continue to repeat myself and just get over it.

The first summer here, a gentleman stopped by the house while we were working on the reclamation project du jour. He’d lived in these parts for many decades and wanted to know if we were enjoying “swimming back up in the green holes up your creek.” He was referring specifically to what I have since called Nameless Creek.

“I’m sorry to say there are no more green holes” I told him. “Not a one of them isn’t filled with silt washed down from roadways, fields and construction up top.”

Knee deep is about the best we can do along Nameless or Goose Creek. This is true, save for the one plunge pool–probably 8-10 feet deep at one time–where my friend stands up to his waist. Here, the water is at least sufficiently deep to get fully wet. If you get past the chill.

In this cleft of Goose Creek gorge, as I reconstruct the history of this setting, a twenty foot boulder tumbled down some thousands of years ago into the neck of this deep cut, blocking the flow partially. Other smaller boulders have fallen into place since, then silt and smaller rock debris filled into the level where I stood to take this picture.

I’ve ventured down to look at this “green hole” in years past, but been generally saddened by the broken glass, cans and trash that have littered the community swimming hole. On one of my visits I found a white wedding dress among the trash. Never figured that one out.

I was pleased to find this visit that all that mess has been cleaned up and not a single bit of trash or glass persists. The rope that allows a would-be swimmer to safely descend the rock wall to the water is in place and intact.

And some kind soul or souls have spent hours creating a rock dam at the lower end of this pool to raise the water level a good foot or more–at least until the next flash flood that will carry all that rock a bit further toward the Atlantic coast.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. When I was about 9-10, we lived near a creek that was shallow even after a heavy rain. Some teenage boys decided to dam it up and make a swimming hole. They tried, but the best they could do made it about 14″ deep on the better days. It was good enough for me to get fully immersed and I loved lying in that crystal clear water, in dappled sunlight filtered through the many trees. After floating, I’d turn rocks over looking for worms and crawdads, and I was never disappointed. Mom told me that if I was ever in the woods and smelled watermelon, I was to hightail it back home. Watermelon aromas in the woods herald the approach of a copperhead, she said. One day, I was surprised to smell it, near the water hole. I never ran so fast in my life!!

  2. Well the Watermelon-snake connection sounded interesting enough I looked around a bit. Found this: “One of the myths is that when a Copperhead is nearby it smells like a cucumber. This is both true and false. When a Copperhead is provoked their body secretes an oder that does smell like cucumbers. However, a Copperhead at rest doesn’t.”

    And this, to the assertion that rattlesnakes smell like watermelon:
    “No, they don’t smell anything like watermelon. However, when left to their own ground, rattlesnakes like to get together for Midori daiquiris, and at such times there is a definite melon scent to the air.”

  3. Very happy to read that young strong backs are taking over for us old tired ones in the work of caring for the environment. The new generations are getting the message, more and more.