My aunt told me we were going to go to some friend's of hers for Thanksgiving and my first thought was "oh, gads! I won't know a sole. I'd rather be flying down a zip line." That was my idea for the day but she was not really up for that and it was a bit far away. I do understand and once I let go of my zip line visions, I was feeling open to meeting some new people. That's one thing I love in life, meeting others and hearing their stories.
Well, let me tell you, I can go down a zip line any day, but having company like that on Thanksgiving, that's not replaceable!! The folks that invited us over are what I believe are true angels!! They have a beautiful piece of property here in Fanin County, GA that is tucked into the hills with open fields filling the valley and each field is lined with a forest of trees. They have set up a place on their property for people with cancer to come and stay at no cost to them. It is a way for the people with cancer to have a little retreat.
The group consisted of them, their family, my aunt and me, and the couple that was currently there on retreat. The conversations were endless, the food was delicious, and the view was incredible!!
The host of the Thanksgiving feast was also well versed in the area and geology. So I got to be a Fanin County student and learned a lot about the area and history here during our time together. This is where the legends were born. When you hear stories about moonshine and cousins marring cousins, this is where it happened.
In the days of Prohibition, the people of this area made their living off moonshine. Not just the people distilling it, but the corn farmers as well. It was more profitable for a farmer to sell their corn crop for the use of moonshine than any other use. Since alcohol wasn't available anywhere else during these days, the sales of moonshine skyrocketed and these hills filled with stills.
To this day, there are areas you should not venture into. This is a section of the country that unless you know someone, don't wonder.
The area where the nice couple has their property is known as Devil's Den because back in the day, probably early 30's, it was filled with hidden moonshine stills and if you crossed into that area, you would not come out alive.
Here is a picture of one of the original copper moonshine stills. What they did was put the fire under the bottom, and the gases would rise to the top. They would then vent out the pipe to the side and as the gases went through the pipe, they would cool and become straight alcohol. A drink of moonshine will knock you over and the locals can drink it like it's beer. Because it is not regulated, it is hard to tell the proof, but if you have good corn, they say it will be about 170-190 proof.
To this day, moonshine is still produced, but it is not the moneymaker it was back in the days of prohibition.
Now, for those of you, like me, who joke about dating your cousin or brother, this area is where that existed. Back in places like Devil's Den, you really had no choices. It was family or nobody. And to an extent, in this whole area, I'm not convinced that kind of thing is really over.
I will say this though- you will never find nicer people!!!!!!!!!! I have really come to have a soft spot for the locals. They would give the skin off their back for you, as long as you are on their good side, and are more friendly than any person from any city. Now, if you come in here and try to make it like the city, they ain't gonna be so friendly, but if you respect them for who they are, they will appreciate you.
The people of this area are the true definition of "good old boys."
A second part of the local area is the land we stand on. Down here in the southeast, there are a lot of mineral deposits that can be found.
There is a mineral called staurolite that is very rare to find but can be found in Fanin County, GA. (where I sit now) The mineral is also called Fairy Crosses because as they develop, they form a natural cross that looks hand carved. The name staurolite comes from the greek words "stauros" (cross) and "lithos" (stone) meaning "stone of the cross."
When the crystals form a cross, you will see two types of crosses. One that forms at 60 degrees and one at 90 degrees. The one at 90 degrees is very rare, and because it looks like the Christian cross, is very sought after.
Here are some pictures of the type that make the 60-degree cross.
This last picture is dedicated to the neat owners of the place we had dinner. The man was very passionate about geology and shared with me his many stones and where they came from. He had quite the collection and was kind enough to give me the crosses above and this stone to put in my journal for the trip.
It is a Crinoid Stem from a Sea Lily that was alive millions of years ago but now is a fossile. He explained to me that he got it in Kentucky, a state that was under the ocean at one time.
It was a very interesting and wonderful visit. I greatly enjoyed it and will never forget this Thanksgiving Day!!!