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The Place I Call Home

At times I really miss my birthplace; Wisconsin always brings comforting memories to mind. But, I believe that if I ever had the chance to leave the south for job or money, I would not go. I could not go. I have lived here amongst southerners longer than I have lived in the north and there is something that runs very deep here. The people are unique, many of them remind me of my grandfather who was born and raised in Georgia. And it comforts me more than anything I know to hear a southern accent. To hear the voice speaking sets inside me some internal memory from my genetics and a kind of warm deja vu. The accent is beautiful and varied. No one person sounds the same and it changes so radically from the North Georgia Mountains to the South Carolina Low Country, you'd swear you traveled 5,000 miles. I've noticed that southerners love to tell tales, it is like they are all gifted with a storyteller trait, developing during childhood and being honed to perfection by midlife. And oh, the stories...the stories are more magical than any novel you could ever read. Now, I'm not saying all southerners will welcome you with open arms. But, like the scuppoernong which grows amongst the deep pine forests and cypress swamps; sometimes the skin is a little tough to get through, but once you do, you will find the sweetest pulp ever tasted.

The land here is the same way. Summers can be pretty brutal when the humidity climbs close to 100% and the temperature soars into the upper 90s. But, our spring, our spring is the closest thing to heaven on earth you can witness. In the cypress swamps the giant towering trees grow out of the water, their rough, knobby knees barren of branches or greenery create a place for frogs and dragonflies to land. And the trees themselves, they reach upwards into the sky. Their fresh, green almost iridescent branches and leaves grow outward in the air that is saturated with the scent of southern jasmine. As the sun starts to near the horizon, an attentive eye will notice American Egrets, Wood Storks and other marsh birds making their way into the deep of the cypress forest. Perching on branches for the night with other marsh birds and squawking like teenagers at a slumber party before their parents tell them to tone it down for bed. It looks strange to peer through all the trees in front of you and see white shapes moving about, deep within the woods - almost ghostly from a distance. All the while a large bull frog adds bass to the evening chorus with a low and deep drone.

In the distance you can hear a quizzical call of a Bobwhite Quail, searching for a return call from a mate before darkness. And of course, the evening would not be complete without the hooting of a Barred Owl far above the landscape, but in perfect view of all happening below. The colors of the sky turn a beautiful orange to blue gradation with cypress trees reflecting on the pond water, creating an almost perfect mirror image. The air becomes very still at this point and the eye turns to the heavens as the stars begin to appear.

I would never ever forsake my birthplace. I will always love Wisconsin. But my heart will forever be in the south.

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