Two moss-covered English iron greyhounds guard the front entrance of the home known as Catalpa, in St. Francisville, Louisiana: The original house survived the Civil War only to be destroyed by fire forty years later. The rebuilt Catalpa continues to be owned by direct decedents of the original builder; heirloom articles and artifacts survived both the fire and their submergence in Catalpa's pond during the approach of the requisitioning Union Army during the Civil War. One of the greyhounds sustained a bullet hole to the back, the parting gesture of a Union solider.
Something about the benevolence of these dogs and Catalpa's long, battered, but overcoming history has made this photograph, without a doubt, one of my most precious; even before a like-minded fire destroyed our family's home and material history. There those dogs sat, through the insanity of war, the helplessness of catastrophic fire, and the footsteps of ten generations. I love that a family has had them as reminders at every welcome that they stand ready for whatever and whoever may come, and with a bullet hole to illustrate that they are capable, they endure, and they have stood against time and won. Were I an inhabitant, in a low moment, I would surely step outside and run a hand across the iron where the bullet hole lies: We have seen worse, we will overcome.
Photo: Under Live Oaks, Carolyn Seebhohm
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