During the recent road trip my mother and I took to Montgomery, Alabama, we decided to take a day and explore some of the small towns within 20 minutes of Montgomery. Like many southern small towns, Wetumpka, Alabama had once been a thriving factory town. While it's apparent that in many respects it still has a vibrant core to it and it was obvious that the local chamber of commerce, merchant associations and civic minded groups are working hard to show Wetumpka's finest attributes off to the world there were vestiges of its former heyday everywhere in the form of abandoned factory buildings and closed up storefronts.
The feeling in the town however was far from gloomy. With the exception of the ivy coated factory buildings, the rest of the town was well kept and attractive. The riverside park probably hosts lots of performances and other activities. There were a number of people out and about taking advantage of the beautiful boardwalk and lovely weather of the day.
An old fountain caught my eye and from a distance I couldn't tell exactly what the designs on the side were but I could tell that the viney plant was now in control of the structure. It must have really been something when it was operational. There was no plaque identifying its age or history but I would love to know the story of its beginning and what caused it to slip from priority in the community budget deciders' minds. It seems to proclaim the values that must have been important to the people of Wetumpka at the time and probably still are but I'm stymied as to why it no longer deserves the maintenance and upkeep to keep it as a prominent showpiece of the town.
Happiness, Peace, Bravery, Valor, Loyalty, Purity, Freedom, Prosperity. These are all strong words individually and easily evoke imagery to each person who considers them. For me personally though, the word Purity seems an odd choice and an uncomfortable word to include but even that word I would love to know the background as to why it is included. This word more than any other really dates the collection and in my mind makes it very southern.
It's been a month since I took these photos and it's taken that long for me to really consider what the collection means to me when taken in context with the overgrown foliage. Like many viney things in the south, whatever this is probably dies back in the winter and is reborn in the spring. I don't know, I have no idea what the plant is. If that isn't the case though, wouldn't that be intriguing to have this fountain with all this lush life growing all over it everywhere but where the words are? Or if there is someone in the night carefully pruning the leaves back from the words?
Depending on my mood, these images take on different meanings when I look at the photo. The overwhelming mood that morning in Wetumpka, Alabama though was a mixture of curiosity, sadness, hope and strength. Maybe it was because the whole thing was taken in context...this somewhat abandoned fountain on one side of me and the mighty Coosa River with the thriving river park surrounding the other side. Hope...because words like "Purity" rarely are included in discussions of values among reasonable and caring people, strength...because the heartbeat of the town was evident all around me that day.
How about you? Whether you feel like sharing publicly what this collection of words means to you, I hope you will at least consider the feelings they evoke in you and explore for yourself what they might mean.