I grew up on a twelve-acre plot of ground on a rise above the Big Elkin Creek in Elkin, North Carolina. To this day you can look out the kitchen window of my childhood home and follow the flow of that creek as it makes its way southeast toward Carter Falls and Jolly Mill. When the sun reflects off the water from up above it glistens and shimmers like fine crystal. Many precious memories of my days living along side that creek are stored deep inside me. Never to be forgotten, treasured as a family heirloom.
Elkin Creek was a place of solace when things got crazy at my house, a spot for a young girl to run away to. To hide, think and write down her thoughts. I did some of my first serious writing sitting on a broken tree limb beside that creek. As the water toppled over rocks, words to poems and stories flowed from me. It wasn’t unusual for the sound of blasting to intrude my thoughts. The revenuers were known to blow up more than one still down in the swamps alongside the creek. Even though my Daddy was questioned about the operation of one of those stills he never made any whiskey. He only drank it.
The creek was also a favorite spot for my friends and I to go and cool off in the summer. We’d wade through the rapids and splash water on each other. Some days we’d venture on down to Carter Falls and slide down the rocks. One specific memory is of a good friend of mine, Debbie Wall. In grammar school we often spent the night with one another and if it was the weekend we’d end up down at the creek. Our favorite spot to play was on Walker and Odessa Luffman’s land above the bridge, on dirt road number 2042.
It’s funny how life comes full circle sometimes. That good friend who roamed the banks of Elkin Creek with me went her way after school and I went mine. A reunion at her mother’s funeral a couple of years ago refueled our friendship. I found out she is a great artist. And guess what? I needed someone to illustrate my children’s picture book. Now we’re working together, old friends who once tromped the riverbanks are now creating a children’s book together.
Other memories of Elkin Creek take me back to the days when Jolly Mill was in operation. My daddy would take corn to the mill to have ground for hog mash. Ed Jolly would always treat us children like royalty. He’d take us on tours of the mill and give us Indian corn in the fall to hang up for decoration. I believe he even shared a ghost story or two with us. It was a sad day when the mill, which was built in 1896, ceased operation.
Since then the mill has wore many different hats. It sat lonesome and deserted for a long time. Then someone had a vision and turned it into a restaurant. Now it is a residence that houses the new owners. On the slope of the hill facing the mill are rows and rows of grape vines. And on past the mill a short distance is the tasting room and restaurant at Elkin Creek Vineyard.
Up the creek from the mill stand four quaint little cabins. You can rent these by the night, weekend or week. They front the Elkin Creek. You can sit on the porch in a swing and listen to the sound of water rolling down stream. If you can’t find peace while listening to the sound of a river you probably never will.
From the cabins you can take a stroll to the waterfall and on down to the tasting room for a sip of one of Elkin Creek Vineyards wines. I am so proud of what the new owners have done to the old Jolly Mill. They have turned this place by the river into a little spec of heaven. I am honored to be their neighbor and share the creek with them.
You can also let Elkin Creek Vineyard help plan your wedding. What better place to start your life together than at the union of Grassy and Elkin Creeks. This charming place by the creek offers what the staff calls, “A Total Experience.” And I for one must agree.
To learn more about my new neighbors down at Elkin Creek Vineyard visit their website at: www.elkincreekvineyard.com
Elkin Creek Vineyard, Restaurant, and Cabins
318 Elkin Creek Mill Road
Elkin, NC 28621
For wedding planning information call or email Jennifer White at: email@example.com
An excerpt from my new novel, The Color of My Heart.
“Grab one of those buckets, Lila, and we’ll get some spring water.”
They walked behind the house and down a still accessible but overgrown path. When the trail started down the hill, Nelda and Inesta stopped.
“We’d better stay up here,” Inesta said. “We might get down there, but I’m afraid we might never get back up. Right down there is the spring, girls. See the tin roof? Just dip the bucket in and skim the trash off the top of the water, then dunk it again to fill it.”
Laura, Lakin, and Lila, with the bucket in Lila’s hand, strolled the rest of the way down the path. Lila dipped and skimmed as she was instructed.
“Mom, this is so cool. I feel like we’ve missed so much not knowing Grandma Nelda and Me-maw. I guess we’ll never know what clothes rinsed in rain water feels like.”
The thought overwhelmed Laura with sadness and caused an ache in her chest. Before, she didn’t know what she’d missed, but now she would.
Back up the hill, they met up with Nelda and Me-maw and made their way back to the cottage. Lila set the bucket on the front porch and went inside for the dipper. They each took turns sipping the cool spring water and agreed it was better than any dollar bottle of so-called spring water they’d bought at a store.