33. Solid Geometry.

You can appreciate Floyd County to an extra degree by noticing instances of solid geometry. These underlying regular forms endow objects with a certain power–yes, to the eye, but also to the imagined tactile and kinesthetic senses.

Run your hand around the edge of a banjo’s resonator and feel the wheel-shape, then heft the instrument. Or with your eyes try to embrace and lift a disused smelting furnace as you walk around its truncated mountain of rocks.

Free-form hills, fields, streams, forests, shadows, clouds, and sunlight contrast with the shapes not only of animals but of artifacts. Among these last are rustiques (earlier chapter) with their wheels, rods, oblong boxes…. And ubiquitous farm buildings, other dwellings (including yurts and geodesic domes), churches, mills, chimneys, a cannery. Below are photographs of scenes having a strong geometric pull: living or man-made (or both at once), functional or artistic (or both). Perhaps you can do better than the author in trying to define the 3-D shapes, although he has the advantage of peering through the great emerald of the socket-prophet. 

Photo by Fred First.

Randall watched Fred First disappear into this four-trunk cluster of tulip poplars and return–with this photo as a souvenir. Although resembling pyramids or even triangles in the image, in life they are tapered cylinders that project from the alluvial plain of Nameless Creek. Along with the barky grooves, the fractal patterns of the branches are also geometric.

Box of a barn topped by a four-triangle roof, Black Ridge Rd. SW.

Barn constructed by Noah Simmons (1827-1901) or his son. Hipped roof made of four triangles of equal dimensions form a pyramid upon a cube.

Steps of The Station, December 1, early afternoon.

Steps of The Station on S. Locust St., December 1, early afternoon. Shadows of metal bars are twisted and bent spatially by slabs that extend both inward-outward and upward-downward.

Former silo near downtown Floyd.

Former silo near Oxford and Maple Streets, downtown Floyd. A cylinder made of square and shoebox forms (i.e., bricks), braced by a ring, topped by cone (itself formed by rope-like features), and incised by an oblong rectangle,

Chimney on Penn Rd. NW.

Chimney of defunct factory, the Donnkenny Building, behind Food Lion in the town of Floyd. Tapered oblong box? Truncated square pyramid? Obelisk sans pyramidal cap?

Samuel Hope Wells playing the .... Lamp by Susan Icove.

Upcycled lamp by Susan Icove. Samuel Hope Wells plays the former basket that is attached to once-flexible hose, itself connected to a former metal spotlight-shade. Geometry: twelve longitudes in search of a globe, elongated cylinder, near-half-hemisphere, truncated cone. Photo by Marjory Wells.

Chimney opposite 801 Penn Rd. NW. Bottom segment made of irregular stones; top, of brick. Shape: flattened flared vase? Its regular, solid, vertical, partly-colored masonry contrasts with the angled wooden fence and the two dark blobs, cow and shadow.

Chimney opposite 801 Penn Rd. NW. Bottom segment made of irregular cobblestones; top, of brick. Shape: flattened flared vase? Its regular, solid, vertical, partly-colored masonry contrasts with the angled and foreshortened wooden fence as well as the dark blobs of cow and shadow.

Smith's Grocery and Hardware, 8470 Floyd Hwy. N, Copper Hill.

Tool museum/ geometry exhibit hung upon one wall of Smith’s Grocery and Hardware, 8470 Floyd Hwy. N, Copper Hill. Note calendar turned to January 1953, month of General Eisenhower’s inauguration (and year that Willadean H. Hylton began working at J. Freezer & Son).

House of Jayn Avery, Zephyr Cir. SE.

House of Jayn Avery, Zephyr Cir. SE. Note interplay between rectangles and wedge-shaped roof; between the flat side and the depth of roof overhang, receding left side, and oblong box of chimney. Also note contrast among rectangles: of and within windows, of oblong narrow siding boards, of oblong ladder with its step-squares. Colored frames accentuate the rectilinear. The whole shebang contrasts with the rambly tree-branches.*

Large cigars. Photo by Marjory Wells.

Solid tubes or large cigars. Photo by Marjory Wells.

Steeple of Fairview Church of the Brethren, corner of Fairview Church Rd. SW and Cox Store Rd. SW.

Steeple of Fairview Church of the Brethren, corner of Fairview Church Rd. SW and Cox Store Rd. SW. An elongated, four-sided pyramid, it tops a box anchored in a wedge (of the roof-peak) and decorated by wheel-shapes.

Near town on Rt. 8, theologeometry.

Theologeometry near town on Rt. 8 South. 

Hexagonal cells of hive containing honey and larvae. Photo by Vivian Struve-Hauk. Courtesy Gunther Hauk, Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary.

Hexagonal cells of natural honeybee comb containing honey and pupae. Photo by Vivian Struve-Hauk. Courtesy of Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary.

Former canning factory, corner of Rt. 221 S. and Canning Factory Rd. SW.

Former canning factory, corner of Rt. 221 S. and Canning Factory Rd. SW on Howell Creek. Warped geometry of roof-planes, siding, window, door-opening, and fence rails contrast with the twisting tree–yet hint at a resemblance because the rectilinear is mainly wooden and tends toward the irregular.**

Minimalist study of planes, depths, and materials. Black Water Loft.

Primitive Baptist (?) Church on Morning Dew Ln SE

Primitive Baptist (?) Church on Morning Dew Ln SE. Organic-form shadows play in counterpoint with horizontal slats, roof slant, tall vertical box, and foreshortening,

Furnace once used to make iron for pots and pans. Located next to and under Old Furnace Rd. SW. Truncated pyramid.

Furnace used in the 1800s to smelt iron for pots and pans. (Hanging jacket for scale.) Located next to and under Old Furnace Rd. SW. A truncated four-sided pyramid (1) made of irregular oblong rocks placed lengthwise and (2) deeply incised by somewhat pyramidal arches.

Pine Creek Mill, Shooting Creek Rd. SE.

Pine Creek Mill, Shooting Creek Rd. SE. Box and wheel. ***

mugs Blue Ridge Cafe

       Rows of grab-me mugs at Blue Ridge Cafe.

 

Notes: 

Octagon tilted.

 Octagon top-disked, railed vertically and horizontally,    and tilted.

* Jayne’s about the ladder. My dad was a Congregational minister born and raised on a Connecticut farm. I would learn about his hands-on, fix-it nature in the summers when we went to my mother’s family house for our month long summer vacation. Having lost the old farm to development, my dad took the upkeep of my mother’s family house into his hands. Painting the shingles, patching the old clapboards, cleaning the gutters, he spent a lot of time up on the ladder. When he died and my mom left the house, of all the antiques and historical items we daughters had to divide up to take home, the ladder was one of my first choices. I needed one just to keep up the repairs on my own house here in Floyd. But I also loved the feel of it as I climbed up knowing I was stepping into the very footprints of my dad. Eventually, being a wood ladder, it started to deteriorate and I had to stop using it. Then Charlie Brouwer did one of his ladder installations at the Jacksonville Center, inviting people to bring in a ladder with its story. It filled my heart to see my dad’s ladder as a part of an amazing work of art. When the installation was taken down, I brought the ladder back wondering what I would do with it and then saw where it was meant to be. Hanging from the chimney of my house, painted with vines and flowers that reach up into the sky, it is the ladder between me on this earth and him in the heaven that he believed so deeply in. It connects our souls.

** According to Blue Ridge Roadways, S.B. Huff built the factory on Howells Creek, site of Shelor’s Mill. The factory’s heyday extended from the 1930s into the ’50s. A Guide to Southwest Virginia, 2003, p. 37.

*** See Webb and Cox, The Water-Powered Mills of Floyd County, Virginia, pp. 288-89. They believe that water power at a nearby site could have driven a bellows and perhaps the hammers that crushed ore. The rimmed wheel comprises two depths of spokes that resemble pieces of pie. Its endless stairway is formed by tread-and-riser. The wheel rests on a truncated pyramid. The sluice that once fed water is a box made of horizontal boards and vertical struts. The structure to its right has two columnar legs that rest on the ground and begin to converge as they rise to support something. The legs themselves are braced by several horizontal struts. The building is an oblong box (wider than high) atop a foundation of oblong rectangles (one solid and one a vacancy). It supports a wedge (the peak) of lighter-colored wood. The structure has three windows that are placed and sized with a slight (and pleasant) randomness. All three are oblong and comprise a total of 28 panes (square in the larger windows, oblong in the smaller). Another oblong rectangle is formed by an inset doorway (covered by a slab of wood). The visible side of the box is covered by thin, horizontal slabs of wood–punctuated by a dozen oblong rectangular holes. See Webb and Cox, pp. 116-21.