Monday, January 23, 2012
Hidden Lake and the Persistence of Daffodils
This is Hidden Lake. Not really a lake,but an old limestone quarry lined with concrete and once advertised as "The World's Most Beautiful Swimming Pool". Above it on the limestone cliffs among the cedars, was a resort with stone steps, then wooden stairs leading to the pool. The resort was on the Nashville-Memphis Highway, now known only as Route 70, and it took in guests in the late twenties and early thirties. It had a pit barbecue and a round stone dance floor. "Dance Under the Stars" reads an old flyer now preserved under glass at the kiosk at the entrance to the park. There were rumors of moonshiners and stills hidden in the woods back then, for Nashville was a long way off-
The lodge burned in the thirties, and yesterday a friend and I walked the rim of limestone cliffs above the lake to see if we could find anything remaining. We took a trail to the left of the lake and scrambled up a mere goat path of sharp rocks and narrow ledges , and we were both comforted to know the rattlesnakes were winter sleeping for if ever there was a homeplace for timber rattlers, this was it. Down, down, down on one side was the Harpeth River, and across it the Veteran's Cemetery. The pool was on our other side. At the top, among the second growth we found an open space where the lodge must have been, but no foundation, no charred wood. Only a park bench and no explanation.
We did find stones that looked like steps here where my friend is standing, but the wooden stairs shown in the antique photo in the kiosk were long gone to the rain and the termites.
I grew up in New England, and in the woods of New Hampshire one sometimes found old settlements where only the orchards and the stone walls remain. It is not long before the woods and the vines and water and time bury everything, and there is no more dancing under the stars. And yet some hardy remnants do persist. Someone planted these daffodils, and they have multiplied as they do in old pastures and wood edges and places where no one could imagine there once was a home.
Water will eat its way through limestone. The dance floor at Hidden Lake will crack and crumble. But the daffodils, thrifty and humble, will go on and on.
*If you go to Hidden Lake keep yourself and children on the trails. Near the quarry there are almost hidden spikes of rebar and sharp rocks in the woods. Use caution.