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March 23, 2005

The Deep South

Jennifer and I were headed for the Deep South. For locales with names like Tangipahoa….Ponchatoula….Bogue Chitto. Names that set up resonance in the tongue and induced lucid daydreams, even in souls that were innocent of their particulars. The Deep South is the land of blue herons and kingfishers….cotton and catfish... soft-shelled crabs and sweet tea.

Uncle Mark and Aunt Molly's house is perched precariously on a bluff overlooking a lake, incarcerated by a tangled jungle of hardwoods. The broad-leafed canopy allowed little sunlight to reach the forest floor, dense with rotting vegetation, swimming in a river of poison ivy, virginia creeper, and kudzu. Muscadine vines throttled the oak trees. Deep green moss and brilliant lichens laminated the rocks and petrified trees. Foxes burrowed dens beneath the live oaks in the natural redoubts of the arroyos. The jasmine and ivy clung tenaciously to the furrows in the gumbo clay of the hillsides.

The crawfish carefully constructed their peculiar mud castles along the edges of the ditches. The blue jays tormented the mocking birds. On an overcast day, perhaps the crows infiltrated the area…silently assuming sentinel positions…surreptitiously surrounding an unsuspecting red tailed hawk. Perhaps on some indecipherable signal or possibly due to the fortunes of synchronicity, they simultaneously attacked, dive-bombing and calling like wave after wave of German Stukas terrorizing the Poles with the whistles on their landing gear.

I took Jennifer down to the lake to feed her to the mosquitoes. As we approached the lake, the reptiles and amphibians sought refuge beneath the calm surface. The startled red eared slider turtles belly flopped into the shallows. The irritated water snakes slid deliberately into the pond from tree limbs extended precariously over the water. The frogs leapt into the air and splashed in the water as the tadpoles flagellated beneath the silt covered leaves of the red oak trees.

The pin tails and the mallards departed in a small explosion of wing-beats…quacking their displeasure, and leaving only invisible aerofoil vortexes expanding in their wake. The great blue heron expressed his displeasure with a hoarse croak before departing. The white herons stayed behind indifferently eyeing the two alien trespassers. Nonplussed by our presence, they continued their gastronomical orgy, spearing fingerlings beneath the surface, instinctively compensating for the refraction of light.

The clouds spared us from the insufferable Mississippi late summer heat. On cane poles we had liberated from the garage, we strung bacon onto the fish hooks and coaxed bluegill bream from beneath the pier. Jennifer perched on the end of the pier, a white-knuckle grip on her lacquered cane pole, dangling her toes into the same pond where I'd snagged a water moccasin the night before.

Inevitably, the mosquitoes found us and carried us back to the house. At night, we nestled down into a bed on the screened porch and listened concertedly to the croak of the killer tree frogs, the chirping of the crickets, and the grunting of the bull frogs. The eastern screech owl delivered his haunting call, infuriating the turkeys, casually, callously, fomenting revolution among the gobblers. And then the late-summer rains came.

The rain fell heavily on the tin roofed birdhouse, splitting the drops and misting the linens of the bed, releasing the calories from the air. As our collective consciousness faded, the heat of the day became a distant memory. The fog rolled in and painted the Spanish Moss in a surreal manner that might have inspired Salvador Dali to pick up his oils and desist from signing the stacks of blank canvases on his deathbed. And then, as quickly as we had found it, everything was withdrawn. Before we had chance to take anything for granted, the Deep South slipped behind us in the mirrors on the rental car. It fell away beneath the wings of the plane and then disappeared entirely, existing now only as a desire to return.

Posted by Peenie Wallie on March 23, 2005 at 8:27 PM


Hey Rob, I don't have your email address. Wanted to say hello and that we've made it. Saw you were working on your sight. Looks good.
Do you submit your work to magazines for publishing? Should you know.

Posted by: CHICA on March 22, 2005 at 8:52 PM

Dont quit your day job.
Technology isnt as bad as I thought.

Posted by: Ted K. on March 23, 2005 at 6:41 AM

Can you write stories about children?

Posted by: Michael J. on March 23, 2005 at 6:42 AM

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