Wednesday, March 30, 2011


When I was a child growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, we took a trip at least once a year to my grandparents' house near New Bern, North Carolina.  It was usually in the spring of the year, sometime around Easter, when the world was exploding with color there in the southeast. I was a strange child (as you might have guessed) and didn't mind the long drive at all.  Then as now I loved to check out the scenery -- especially in the springtime when the azaleas and dogwood were blooming.  The southeastern United States is some of the prettiest country anywhere and it was a treat to watch it unroll outside my car window.   I loved the flowers, loved the old houses, loved the historic markers all along the roads...

But the best thing about that trip was that the route we took passed right along the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. How I loved going by that swamp!  I don't remember passing any flowers and there were very few houses or historic markers on that stretch, but through the trees that hugged the roadside you could catch glimpses of an incredibly heavily shaded world, thick with lush, gorgeously tangled greenery.  Trees, trees, trees everywhere trees -- and vines that swung down from the canopies and wrapped down and around the trees, practically tripping them up on the forest floor. We never could see much of the water that goes with "swamp" from the road, but what we could spy between the green was deep and dark and mysterious and full of life.  It was just about sickening how much life was going on in that swamp. The stories you could just imagine taking place in such a deep and dark and mysterious world!

But, daggonit, with the speed of our car gliding down US 17 and the fact that the foliage was so thick, I couldn't ever get a really good look inside the swamp.  I knew there had to be some spooky old  cabins leaning crookedly on stilts back there somewhere.  Possibly with zombies in them.   And, dangit! I wanted to see a possum! Hanging upside down in a gnarly old tree.   I knew there were snakes coiled up in all that Spanish moss, and I wanted to catch sight of them!  And birds!  There had to be millions of birds! And alligators.  Not to mention bobcats and bears!  The Dismal Swamp was a metropolis of wildlife -- flora and fauna -- right there ouside the car window, and I was missing it!  Seriously. You can't peer into the mysterious deep darkness of a swamp traveling by it at 55 mph -- with your baby brother crying in the front seat and your sisters singing the wrong words to "Hear the Wind Blow" in the middle seat and  your-nine-year-old seat-mate acting like he's going to be sick next to you in the station wagon third-seat rumble.


So frustrating.  It frustrates me now thinking about it.  Stop the car, I want to get out!!


You can see that, though most people's description of a swamp might include words like: lonely... and serene... and still...  my mind's eye conjures up a rolicking car full of children speeding along outside a wilderness teeming with  activity and life. 

And you might also understand a little bit what I mean now when I apologize for not being able to find time to get on the computer and enjoy some  blogging and visiting.  Because, as the saying goes...

gracious sakes

I've just been swamped!

Slave Hunt, Dismal Swamp Virgina, 1862  -- painting by Thomas Moran

PS:  I do hope to get a chance to download some pictures here soon and run around to some back porches to do some visiting, though... I'm gonna try. We'll see.  Stay tuned.

PPS:  OH, but  I actually did get over to Praying While You Work and add a couple more chapters today for anyone who's reading along in Dom Zeller's book...  :)


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Great post & blog!

MightyMom said...

I love swamps!! and I'm always straining my eyes to see past the trees!!!

but goodness woman! if you don't get over here soon your tea is gonna be STONE COLD!