Down deep in the EAtl

When I came back from Home Depot Saturday morning (arms full of paper yard waste bags … leaves were the weekend project), the wife wanted to ask me a question about the backyard.

Seems she”d not noticed this big hole out near the back corner of the yard and wanted to ask me if it”s always been there (“always” as in since we moved in two weeks ago) or what.

So we go out on the deck. And there, shoulder deep in the hole and digging deeper, was the Big Brown Dog.

The BBD has always been somewhat of a digger. He”s not looking to escape; he”s just looking for adventure. And, obviously, something has caught his fancy underneath the backyard.

And the BBD is a hunting dog. Half Labrador, half German Shorthaired Pointer … his genes are a mesh of tracking, swimming, running, fetching and … digging dog. So if he”s digging, there must be something down there. Or at least he thinks there”s something down there.

I go down to the hole to see what”s up. Nothing poking up through the hole; no obvious signs of what he”s looking for. But he”s sniffing the hole with the fervor of Stevie Nicks doing lines of coke and continues to hurl out big pawfuls of dirt from the ever-deepening pit.

When I manage to get BBD out of the hole and start excavating the site myself, the wife blurts out “I was kind of hoping you”d stop him, not help him” from up on the deck.

But he”s after something, and I want to know what it is. Somewhere in his hole digging, he unearthed what looks like an old brown bottle, but I”ve dug enough random holes in my life to know that stuff buried in dirt seems to look about 10 times older than it actually is.

The BBD and I take turns digging, but we still turn up nothing but dirt and the growing web of roots we”re hitting (The BBD is so crazed at this point that he”s trying to pull the bigger roots out of the ground with his teeth).

With leaves to rake, blow and bag, I decide to leave the BBD alone with his little backyard project. Of course, as soon as I start raking leaves elsewhere in the backyard, the BBD picks up a tennis ball and starts following me around and dropping it in the leaf pile. He has a bit of a short attention span.

Alone with the yard blower and the BBD, I start to ponder the deeper (so to speak) meaning of the hole.

We”re below root level in our dig, which means BBD is not smelling the leftovers of a Krystal sackful tossed into a construction infill spot when they built the place two years ago.

Until our neighborhood was built in 2001, our lot and the land nearby was the woods. Bigger trees were left; smaller ones were cut down (not too well, by the way, as we have several small stumps in the backyard). But from the beginning of time until two years ago, our home was wilderness.

But the street we live on has been a major commercial route since the Cherokee owned the place. It”s one of those streets that the white folks incorporated into their system of roads once they sent the Indians off to Oklahoma.

And the hole is about 50 feet off this old-school expressway. Could the BBD be smelling the bones of some long-since dead Cherokee who kicked off in what is now out backyard?

Maybe? Seems like a stretch.

But how about this? That old Cherokee highway was also the route the Confederate troops used to try to sneak behind the Yankees when the city was under siege in 1864. There are historical markers within a quarter-mile in each direction noting the movement of these soldiers.

This little nugget of Civil War history is a big reason I like our house”s location so much. And it”s the reason I”ve been tempted to dig random holes in the yard myself.

In my neighborhood, 13,000 soldiers died in what became known as the Battle of Atlanta (the one depicted in the Cyclorama painting). You figure they managed to find and remove each of those 13,000 bodies in what was thick woods back then?

Yeah, it”s a stretch. I went back out with the BBD later in the day, got a few inches deeper, but all I found was some very strange and big larvae of some kind (no, BBD was not after it … I checked with him on that).

When discussing the potential reasons for BBD digging the hole, the wife threw out her independently-developed Confederate soldier theory as well.

The difference is she would see this as a bad thing. I think her quote was “I don”t want to be those people on TV who have a Confederate soldier buried in their backyard,” to which I replied “Damn! I do!!! I can see the big picture of me and the BBD on the cover of AJC”s Metro section!”

Of course, if it”s a Yankee …

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