The photo prompt for this week’s Friday Fictioneers is one I took this past Spring when I woke to the epitome of “The fog comes on little cat’s feet.” (For photo buffs, I took the photo on a Nikon Coolpix L110 set on “Landscape.”) I could hear the cattle but couldn’t see them, and since I was up early and the fog was a sound suppressor, the quiet really did make me feel as if I’d woken in another time.
Where I live now, even though I’m a born Virginian, I’m on the wrong side of the Civil War. It’s a place where, when I say “Civil War,” strangers feel obligated to speak up and correct me: “The War of Northern Aggression.” Well, bull… pucky. When a group of citizens from a country fight their own countrymen, it’s a civil war.
So, when I re-looked at this photo again to write something for Friday Fictioneers, I looked over the ridges and valleys and imaged the barriers that presented to an escaping slave. (Granted, slavery wasn’t as widespread in the Shenandoah Valley as it was among the planters of the Piedmont in Virginia, but it existed here.) To get to the famous Underground Railroad, a slave from the Valley would have to go north, probably staying in the mountains, go through a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, to a Quaker-settled area in what is now Loudoun County. From there, they’d be smuggled farther north into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
I know only in my intuition some Valley slaves probably tried the trek, and I’m sure it’s unknown how many made it and how many didn’t. I, however, wrote a story where someone did succeed, “Pillar of Salt in the Promised Land.”
The Underground Railroad had a specific “code” known to fleeing slaves to hide what brave men and women, on both sides, accomplished. “The Promised Land” was Canada, where many escaped slaves ended up. Some returned after Emancipation; some didn’t.
To read stories by other Friday Fictioneers, click on the frog-like image at the bottom of the story. I’m eager to see the stories written for my photo. If you don’t see the link on the title, “Pillar of Salt in the Promised Land” above, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab at the top of the page and select it from the drop-down menu.