There is a small section of our yard that is bordered by the pond fence, the driveway and the ditch. It has a name of it's very own. We call it the "nutrient patch." I suppose that it could be considered a compost area/wildlife feeding ground. We toss the leftovers there and the food either breaks down to rejoin the soil or is consumed by creatures furry, feathery or scaly. I used to have dreams of turning that little area into a vegetable garden. After all, the soil there must be amazing by now! Unfortunately that patch (along with much of the surrounding ditch) has been taken over by a notorious weed by the name of Horsetail Rush. For those who are unfamiliar that reedy weed, let me assure you that it is the absolutely most impossible plant life on the face of the earth to kill. There is a chemical that will destroy it, but it will also make the ground sterile for several years. Defeated, I've decided to simply continue feeding the ground and wildlife while admiring the tenacity of the ancient genus that thwarted my plans.
A couple of nights ago, after clearing the table, I walked outside to add a plateful of nutritional goodness to the patch. I was slightly startled when a huge, I mean, well fed, possum emerged from the reeds. As though embarrassed at having being caught noshing, he waddled back toward his home as fast as his portly legs could carry him. I felt kinda sorry for him. After all, it is a good 300 yards to the swamp. He might've starved to death before he reached the cover of woods. Or had a heart-attack.
Hold on...it just hit me. We live less than 1000 feet from a SWAMP! :::gasp::: How did I not realize this before? Oh, wait. I did. I actually have been aware of that fact for quite some time. My husband even grew up here. I grew up in a much less swampy area. <-said in my most snooty voice. It's probably a whole mile between my childhood home and the swamp. Well, maybe not quite a mile.
Oh come on! This is south Louisiana. The swamp is all around us.
Some people apparently seem to think that it's a horrible thing to live "in the swamp." I'm not one of them. In fact, I think it's kinda cool. Exotic even. There is a unique beauty here in the swamplands that is life affirming to me. Some of the very best memories of my childhood are of my father taking us kids to the camp in the swampy woods. Nature both amazes and inspires me. The tree line photo at the top of this blog was taken from my backyard. If you've ever gotten lost enough on the web to stumble upon my Myspace, you might have noticed the same photo. There I call it "Swamp Sunset." In my fictional world of Rhonia, my hero hails from a place called Mireterre. Mire = swamp, terre = land.
You wouldn't think that I should need to convince anyone that I have a special affinity for this land that I live in, but apparently I do. You see I was recently misquoted in our local newspaper. That sentence attributed to me makes it appear that I see the swamp as a horrible place.
Let me give some background here. Our school board is considering moving boundary lines, which would force children who live in this area to begin attending a school in neighboring community. Both schools are very good. The school that our children may be bussed away to has an excellent state rating. Still, parents here are very much against the idea. Our school was built for our community. It's seen generations of local families. The father of a friend recently said that Grandparents Day can often feel like a class reunion. It means something to them that their grandchildren are getting an education in the same school that they not only sent their children to, but that they attended themselves. The problem is that the area is booming. Enrollment is rising and the classrooms are becoming more and more crowded. A large part of this is due to a newer subdivision, which is located in an area that was not originally part of our school zone. Understandably, many parents who grew up here are now feeling that their children are being pushed out to make room for newcomers.
In an effort to bring public awareness to the issue, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper. Later that week, I received a phone call from a reporter. We talked about a promise of new classrooms that parents were given a few years ago when we were urged to go to the polls and approve a measure to untie money for School Board use. If those classrooms had been built as planned, the school would be able to handle the current growth. We talked about the upcoming changes in the Pre-k program that should free classrooms for other grades. We discussed the frustration that parents felt at a recent school board meeting. We talked about student/teacher ratio.
Out of everything that the reporter and I spoke about, here is what he apparently heard: “I just cannot see my child getting on a bus and going 30 minutes into the swamp,”
I guess I can see how he got that. What with me hating the swamp and all. :::sigh:::