Monday, July 26, 2010


Arkansas or Newfoundland? Where is home? I grew up in Southeast Arkansas and spent only 18 years in the state. In 1972 I immigrated to Canada and came to Newfoundland where I have lived nearly 30 years. It is strange how I have spent almost double the amount of my life in Newfoundland and yet, when I go  to Arkansas I am Home.

What is it about our youth that attaches us to our surroundings so strongly? It has to be Nature because the family and friends are no longer there; the businesses no longer exist as they were; progress has taken over most favorite spots and the only pure remnants of yesteryear are the sights, sounds and smells of the natural surroundings.

The swamp is not akin to a trickling brook. It is expansive and filled with turtles, snakes, alligators, brim, crappie and catfish. The edges of the swamp are teeming with birds and other wildlife. It is alive, and it is the same today as I remember it so many years ago when I used to get in a small motor boat to go fishing.

The air around the swamp is still, hot and humid. The insects hover just above the water and tease the fish below. The silence of the swamp is broken only by the croaking of the frogs, the splash of a turtle diving from a log or a snake falling from a limb. Each sound prompts the senses to be on alert to the potential dangers of the swamp - a natural rush.

And then there are the hallmark Cyprus Trees! There is something very peculiar and captivating about the tilting outcrop of all of those Cyprus Trees rising from beneath the water. The base of the trees resembles the shape of the dresses from the Antebellum South. Very fitting!

On this visit I found myself just standing, staring, smelling and listening to the swamp, and it was as if no time has passed since I hauled up a four pound catfish from its warm waters.

Seeing old friends can't equate that same feeling. Therein are the signs of time that serve to remind me of how many years have slipped away. Nature, on the other hand, grows more grand as it ages and births its young year after year, never looking any worse for the wear.

I think the sea to Newfoundlanders is much like the swamp for Arkansans. The sounds of the ebb and flow on the rocky beaches and the smell of the salt water must strike a similar chord to those who spent their youth around the shoreline, often too busy to consciously notice it. Nevertheless, the sights and sounds are being imprinted for later recall.

Perhaps, it is retirement that has given me a renewed sense of my surroundings. Now, I stop, look and listen to my surroundings instead of my watch. This time I captured images of my favorite places so that I can visit them any time I choose.

P.S. I added over 30 new species to my 2010 bird list. I have begun sorting them and will share them soon.

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