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Walking in the Shoes of a Homeless Man

homeless bill standing may 6

 

Mississippi like many places in the south has a transient homeless population. The homeless in this state are drawn to the urban areas in search of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. They lust for a life off the streets. The number varies at any given time and the majority of the homeless in the capital city are men.

William and I volunteer for various missions that aid the homeless. There are many shelters available for assistance. These shelters provide services that will help get them off the street and programs for substance abuse if they choose to enter it.

This is the story of a homeless man on the streets of the inner city. The circumstances of this story are a compilation of the many stories that we hear from the men on the street.  The ministries we volunteer for generally have conversations with men and their stories are more often heard.

John steps off the bus at the inner city bus stop. The night is warm as he searches for a place to spend the night. There has been talk from the last town about how life is better in the inner city. This night he walks around the corner and spots another homeless man.

The other man’s name is Joe and he has lived on these streets for more than thirty years. His skin is wrinkled and hair dark gray. It has been a hard life on the street filled with alcohol and drugs. He looks much older than his fifty years. Joe calls out to John to come and join him in a drink.

Homeless people often congregate together on the streets. It is a social network that provides a certain amount of safety. There are gangs in the inner city that will steal money and beat a homeless person found alone. The social network also details where the best place to get food, clothing, and shelter. This network also discusses the best places to beg and hustle money if one chooses to take this route.

John joins Joe and takes a swig of the whiskey that is offered. Joe begins interviewing John to find out his story. John begins his story telling of a neglected childhood. His father left the family when he was about two years old and has not been  seen or heard from since. John’s mother was addicted to drugs and would often leave the apartment for days. Often there was no food or heat leaving John and his sister hungry and cold.

John became homeless at age fifteen and the street became his life. Ten years have now passed and the future looks grim. He was given a choice in the last city he called home to either leave or go to jail. A woman gave him bus fare and now this new city is his home.

Joe tells John that this is a good city to roam the streets. Every day there is a community center that will serve lunch to all people. There are also several local churches that have a ministry that brings food and comforting words every Monday and Wednesday. Many of the local restaurants will provide free food each night to cut down on the harassment of their customers. Hunger will not be a problem in this city.

This city has an occupational center that provides a free place to spend the days, do laundry, internet service, a postal address, and help with job placement. On cold winter nights the occupational center is a night shelter. The people at the center are friendly and helpful.

John smiles and thinks that he has entered paradise. Joe explains to him that the reality of crime in the area has made these places unsafe at times. There are groups of homeless men that create issues due to alcohol and drugs. At times guns are fired and people are killed by the violence.

Six months pass and John’s life is again in turmoil. His alcohol usage has increased and now has a problem with crack cocaine. He has learned the language of the street and manipulation has taken control. The people who have tried to help are now his enemies. John has learned how to tell people what they want to hear in order to have money for alcohol and drugs. He has tattered clothing and is thin. Alcohol and the crack cocaine now rule him.

One night John and Joe are in the woods with other homeless men trying to warm themselves with a small fire. A big fire will attract the attention of local authorities and many of the men have warrants for their arrest due to crimes committed. Suddenly two men get into an argument over a drug deal gone bad. One man pulls out a gun and begins shooting into the crowd.

John dives for cover and is spared. Joe is not as lucky and a bullet hits him in the stomach. No one calls for help since all the men do not wish to attract the attention of law enforcement. Joe dies a painful death alone from internal bleeding.

John is scared and has a moment of epiphany. He has a vision of his life from the beginning to this point in time. There is a choice to be made. John can either live or die. The next morning John walks to the community center and enrolls in an alcohol and drug rehab facility. He is ready to change and get off the street.

One year passes and John is now working at the community center. He struggles everyday to remain sober. John now has a new life with a job, home, and friends. For the first time in his life there is food, clothing, and shelter. He relates his story to anyone who will listen. Now his goal in life is to help other men get off the streets.

William and I meet men like John every time we volunteer at community shelters. John is one of the lucky men that we meet. The majority of the homeless men are too far entrenched in alcohol and drug issues to want to get off the street. This is unfortunately a cycle that is hard to defeat.

We are grateful and blessed for the opportunity to meet and work with the homeless. They remind us of how blessed we are and how much work there is to be done to fight this problem. We pray to God for the day when the suffering will end and for His guidance in how to solve the problem of homelessness.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

 

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birds culture daily prompt environment happiness hiking inspiration intentional living life lifestyles Mississippi nature preservation story telling suburbs summer

The Life and Times of a Suburban Blue Bird

The suburbs are an interesting place to live in Mississippi. There is a part of the city mixed with some of the benefits of living out among nature. One of the most intriguing parts of this life is the observation of the variety of birds. My yard is filled with doves, cardinals, blue birds, wrens and robins all trying to feast on the bird feeders containing sunflower seeds. The lives of all of the birds are fun and interesting to watch. There are no predators in the yard so the birds enjoy the security of abundant food.

Jess built some bird houses and posted them on the fence. One of the first residents in the bird house is a male and female bluebird. The male is majestic in his blue color as he sports through the yard. He is looking a bit ruffled since bumbling the morning battle with another male blue bird. The female is beautiful but not as full of color. She is checking out the variety of houses looking for the perfect nesting spot.

The pair finally decide on a house in the corner of the yard and begin building a nest. The blue birds bring small twigs and other treasures to fill the nest. Some of the treasures for this nest come from our yard. There was a thunderstorm the night before and small twigs and leaves are now in the yard. Building the nest is a slow process that is observed for days before finally being finished. When the birds have move in we can see the twigs resting on the inside of the house.

It is not long before the nest is filled with eggs. The blue birds guard this nest very aggressively from any perceived predators. Some of the air battles with other birds are entertaining to watch. We have also observed a squirrel being chased away from the nest by the blue birds. They are serious protectors when it comes to their family.

Bluebird Jess

The female blue bird sits on the nest for hours each day. She rests her head on the entrance hole to house continually observing activity close to the house. The male will visit several times a day. He will often bring food and guard the nest while the female leaves to find food. This process will continue for a few weeks until the eggs are hatched.

After the eggs are hatched the young birds chirp in anticipation of the food their parents will bring. The birds feed their young several times a day. While we have several bird feeders containing sunflower seed, the female prefers to feed her young family spiders and other sources of protein. The bird house is close to a wooded area providing an abundance of this type of food.

Bluebird with spider jess

After a few weeks the young blue birds are ready to fly away.  The blue birds will continue to be with their young family for quite a while.  They will leave the bird house and teach the young birds how to live in the woods. Eventually the young blue birds will leave the parents to pursue their own lives.

Jess cleaned the bird house and discovered a small blue egg that did not develop. It was a pretty egg and I am sad that it did not hatch. The cycle of life can be disheartening at times. Sometimes there is loss in the renewal of life for these birds. The bird house is empty now waiting to be discovered by a new couple of birds in search of a nesting site.

A few days ago we observed a new male and female blue bird looking at another bird house in the yard. It appears that the cycle will begin anew. The new blue birds are bringing new twigs and other treasures to the bird house. Soon there will be eggs and the cycle of life will begin again.  Jess and I are looking forward to observing this young family grow and flourish. Nature is wonderful in life and abundance in this spring season.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

 

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art celebrations culture daily prompt environment gardens happiness hiking history inspiration intentional living life lifestyles Mississippi nature preservation spiritual story telling summer

Mississippi Gulf Coast : The Art of Healing and Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Life is full of challenges that can be damaging to the human soul. Some challenges such as broken relationships and disease are internal. The restoration of the soul may take a long time or there may be a quick resolution. Other life challenges are caused by an external force of nature such as a hurricane. Healing from internal and external forces may be accomplished through art.

Art expresses who we are as individuals. For many people internal life challenges may be healed through music, writing, or painting. Art is like a magnet that expresses our innermost thoughts and feelings. In many ways art will imitate the journey of our lives.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a beautiful nature scene. There are beaches filled with birds and people. Each enjoying the abundance of sunshine, sand and water. The Mississippi beaches feature restaurants, picnic areas, and water vehicles for rent. There are piers where people can fish. Fishermen can be seen early in the morning walking to their favorite spot.  Beautiful sunrises and sunsets may be enjoyed from many spots along the coastline.

The beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is expressed in music venues, art museums, and paintings. All is well today but more than ten years ago a devastating hurricane came ashore that changed the journey of life for people and nature.

Hurricanes are a frightening force in nature. The force of the wind and water causes much damage and pain to all things involved. Hurricane Katrina caused devastation and death along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The tranquil and comfortable lives of people were devastated in a few days. People fled to the north to escape the dangerous gulf surges, tornadoes, and winds. Upon return to the south the land mass between Louisiana and Alabama would never be the same.

After the hurricane people came back to a desolate environment. The homes and businesses of the Mississippi Gulf Coast were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The once beautiful beaches were covered in rubble from buildings. The forces of the gulf water surge destroyed the natural environment.

There would also be death surrounding the survivors. Some people refused to leave their homes and died in the rising waters. There was great despair in many parts of this area.

Hope began to rise in the destruction as Mississippi Gulf Coast residents returned to rebuild. The work was hard and the days were long but the people were persistent. Over eleven years have past and the Mississippi Gulf Coast has recovered and is growing once more.

During the rebuilding years many artists have used the devastation and rebuilding process as inspiration. There are paintings, sculptures, and music to reflect the healing of the times. This artwork is displayed in many venues. There are museums reflecting the culture of the people.

The healing of this devastation has taken years to accomplish. In the mist of the destruction some artists have taken some creative steps to create beauty out of the devastation on the scenic highway 90.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina the median along highway 90 in Mississippi was filled with live oak trees. These beautiful trees were tall and commanding along the coastline. For many years these trees stood as a reminder that nature once stood guard against the storms. These live oak trees also served as a postcard to years past.

Some artists decided to create sculptures out of the dead oak trees now scattered along highway 90. Taking chain saws these artists created art out of the devastation. The sculptures now replace the oak trees in the median of highway 90.

Each day people traveling highway 90 look upon the beauty of these sculptures. The sculptures are a postcard to the past and present. They are a reminder of how new life can spring from extreme devastation.

turtle sculpture may 2

Many of the sculptures use the subject of marine life. Several of the sculptures have pelicans and other coastal birds as subjects. Each appears to tell the story of nature along these coast lines.

The beaches and gulf waters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast have been repaired. The coastal birds and marine life are wonderful to observe and photograph. The old pier posts are filled with pelicans and other birds. It fills the soul with a sense of peace observing these birds splashing in the water and enjoying the day on the pier post.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast if an example of how life changes have a positive influence on the soul. The art that is exhibited in the museums, highway 90, small shops, and in music venues shows the spirit of renewal after a time of devastation. Truly it is a lesson for all of us. It is well within the soul.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

 

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An Adventure at Mount Locust on the Natchez Trace

The Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Natchez, Mississippi and ends in Nashville, Tennessee. The Natchez Trace has long served as a highway for explorers and travelers.  One of the oldest places to explore is Mount Locust which according to our paper map is located close to Natchez, Mississippi.

Jess and I took a road trip to Natchez, Mississippi via the Natchez Trace. On the way home we decided to stop at Mount Locust. This particular afternoon was hot and it seemed like a great place to rest and have a snack. We parked the truck and began to explore the grounds.

There is a large field that is lined with trees and a wooden fence. Glazing across the field I imagine what a comfort this must have been to weary travelers seeking lodging on the old Natchez Trace. In those days there were no paved roads just a path through the woods. This path was well-traveled until more modern modes of transportation powered by steam would arrive in this part of the country.

mount locust property april 27

We walk up to the information area and view the informative signs explaining the history of Mount Locust. The signs weave a story of the humble beginnings of this place to its current state. Mississippi is home to many interesting historical places that change as time moves forward.

Mount Locust was built in the late 1700’s and has served as an inn for weary travelers to changing into a working plantation. Today Mount Locust is owned by the National Park Service and has been restored to how it looked in the early 1800’s. The admission is free and open most days of the year.

Jess and I move along the path to the old house. The old house is small with a large porch in the front. We climb the steep stairs to the entrance and stand on the porch to reflect on the history of this place. It is easy to imagine the guests in this house sitting on the porch in the evenings exchanging stories of their adventures. The porch must have had a grand view of the property at that time.

Entering the house the dining area is the first room that we explore. There is a large table with plates and mugs carefully set. This room is small but the table fits nicely and one can almost smell the food cooking and being eaten by the guests of this house. History is wonderful and alive if one’s imagination will take you on the journey into the past.

mount locust dining hall april 27

Jess and I move on to the next room and observe a bed and a desk. The room is quite comfortable as we glance into the past. There is a fireplace in this room that would have served as a source of warmth in the cooler weather.

mount locust room 1 april 27

The next room is for guests with children. It is a larger room with two beds and a table. There are toys on the table for the children to play with. I can hear the laughter of young ones playing and enjoying the travel adventure.

mount locust toys april 27

Our next stop in this small house is a storage area. The sun filled room is home to dishes, shoes, and work tools. This small room has shelves and was more likely used for whatever was needed for the everyday life of the inn.

mount locust storage room april 27

We leave the interior of the house and move into the backyard area. There is a wooden soap making machine in the corner. The early pioneers in this area made their soap from lye. The site has a sign that explains how the soap is made.

In the middle of the yard is a closed cistern. These days it stands as a relic to the past when houses did not have indoor plumbing. The rain water collected in this cistern sustained people in an earlier time. I admire how resourceful the people of that time were and how they contributed to the ecosystem of the land.

mount locus cistern april 27

The back of  the yard is lined with beautiful trees and a trail. In later times Mount Locust became a working plantation when the power of steam made travel on the Natchez Trace less frequent. The trail leads to an old slave cemetery. This was a darker time in Mississippi history.

mount locust slave cemetery trail april 27

The day is hot so Jess and I decline to walk the trail. We take a last look at the house and begin moving up the path toward the truck. I am inspired by the beauty of the land and how it sustained so many people throughout history. Truly this is a wonderful place to visit.

Jess and I leave Mount Locust and head toward home on the Natchez Trace. We love these road trips and admire the beauty of the land surrounding the road. As the sun begins to set we know it will not be long before time to have another adventure.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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Relief by the River

colorado park river

The day is warm

the sun high above the trees

contemplating life

on my knees

 

The river is cool

calming to my soul

giving refreshing water

like days of ole

 

Life seems so uncertain

as we contemplate the times

trusting that God will provide

safety from crimes

 

The river is peaceful

my soul is renewed

all is well

on this day anew

 

The storm has passed

we are cared for

life is now calm

it is time to soar

 

copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

 

 

 

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birds daily prompt environment life Mississippi nature personal

Mississippi Travel: A Visit to Pelahatchie Bay

Pelahatchie Bay is a small bay which attracts fishermen, walkers, and wildlife. It is one of the many bays and inlets that are connected to the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Fed by the Pearl River these areas create an ecosystem for all types of life.

The early mornings and late afternoons are the best times to visit small bays and inlets in Mississippi. The summer brings hot temperatures to all places around the state.  Pelahatchie Bay is home to many visitors taking advantage of the cooler spring days.

On one late afternoon visit Jess and I were taking photos and observing the wildlife at Pelahatchie Bay. The first thing that caught our attention was a blue heron enjoying the sun and looking for food. The blue herons are majestic birds that are large and beautiful. They command attention from all who observe them. The sun reflections make them appear to walk on water. The blue heron takes notice of our appearance but continues on his mission for this afternoon. We observe for a while and take pictures before continuing our journey through the bay. At times it seems the blue heron is posing for this photo session.

blue heron pelahatchie bay 1 april 12

The blue heron is not the only bird to make an appearance this afternoon. An egret is hiding in the river brush searching for food. This beautiful bird struts for us as it scans the river water. There is an abundance of fish in this area and the egret will be busy eating for a while this afternoon. These birds are not alone in the bay. The river is a source of life for this ecosystem. In the mornings and afternoons otters will make an appearance swimming happily in the river. Bugs, snakes, and rabbits also frequent this landscape.

white egret pelahatchie bay april 12

As we continue on our journey through the bay a group of fishermen on a wooded deck into the river captures our attention. This is an eclectic group of people composed of high school kids and two older women. Each group is absorbed in their own worlds.

We are hardly noticed by the high school kids. They have fishing poles and are engaged in conversation. We say hello and continue our journey through the deck.  The two older women are friendly and share their fishing story with us. They tell us how this is one of many afternoons that will be spent at this fishing hole. This is relaxation for them after finishing the work day. The women have brought a cooler of food and drink. Today is not a good day for catching fish but they have enjoyed books and conversation.

The view of the river is wonderful and clear showing its banks and channels. The blue sky with clouds provides the perfect reflections of the river. There are trees and undergrowth on each side of the river providing shade and food for the wildlife in the area. The river feeds the Ross Barnett reservoir which can be seen in full a few miles from this spot.

Our journey continues as we move toward the next part of the bay. There is a small bait shop and restaurant on the opposite side. This shop is frequented by fishermen in search of live bait and a meal before the day’s activities. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch consisting of home cooked southern food. The aroma of the cooking food is pleasant and inviting. Often while shopping for fish bait or eating  there are discussions as to where the best fishing hole for the day is located and what is the best type of bait for the expected catch. Minnows and crickets are popular bait sold at the shop.

blue heron and egret pelahatchie bay april 20

The next place we visit is the entrance to a trail through the woods. It is inviting with the trees and peaceful. There is a small breeze blowing making the afternoon more comfortable. Jess and I discuss taking a hike through this trail. It is a short trail and we can see that is ends on the other side of the bay. We decide to take a few pictures and leave the trail for another day.

The time has come to leave Pelahatchie Bay. We take one final look at the blue heron which has now been joined by an egret enjoying the day. It is a wonderful site observing how these birds live in peace with one another. Nature is calm and relaxing and we are blessed to be a small part of the circle of life.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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inspiration life memorial day Mississippi personal

In memory of a Mississippi soldier on Memorial Day

american flag may 5

The small Mississippi farm has been the source of survival for the family for a long time. It has been 10 years since the father of the family committed suicide. As the oldest son it has long been his responsibility to take care of the family business. Things have now changed as his mother has remarried and now it is his time to explore the outside world.

The young man is excited as he rushes home to the small farm in Mississippi. He is almost out of breath as he reaches the house with the news. The army recruiter at the small country school has informed him that the college scholarship has arrived. There is now hope for a new life. His smile radiates as he tells the family.

The Mississippi university has been a wonderful time in the young man’s life. The army program has given him structure and confidence. The days are filled with classes and study. There are football games and parties on the weekends. The years pass quickly and soon it is time to move to the next phase of life.

Graduation is here and the air is filled with anticipation and excitement. The engineering degree being awarded today has given him a job with the highway department and entrance into the army reserve as an officer. There is great hope for the future.

There is a war going on across the world in a small country. The army has requested his presence in this foreign land. The young man is frightened as he boards the plane. Life will be hard again and survival is not certain. He is deeply moved by the suffering surrounding him. His view of life will never be the same.

The young man has a wife and children. They anxiously await his return and read the letters he sends with great joy. The war will end soon and he will return. That day will be glorious indeed. The years he spends in a foreign land are difficult but there is a home in Mississippi waiting for him.

The young man is now home and returns to his career in engineering at the highway department. The army reserves are now his secondary job. This is an exciting time in life as his family and career grows. There are birthday parties and family vacations that make his life complete.

The years pass and the young man is now middle-aged with a career, house, and family. The army is still part of his life because of the army reserve. He serves his country in a dual career as an engineer and an army reserve lieutenant. The income from each of these provides him a comfortable living.

The middle-aged man now has time for recreation. His favorite past times include fishing at the local reservoir and playing guitar at his home. This day the sun is out and he is strumming the guitar by the pool while cooking food on the outdoor grill. Life is wonderful and he reflects on his blessings.

grill guitar chair may 5

The world is at war again and the older man reads with great interest the newspaper. His rank as a major with a career as an engineer make him an important part of the war effort at home. He wonders if the world will ever be at peace again. The army reserve has sent him to war college to learn how other countries in the world operate. The older man views these and hopes that diplomacy instead of war will bring the world to peace.

The older man has been promoted to the rank of colonel and is now at the time of retirement from both the army reserve and engineering career. He is looking forward to more time to be spent with his family. Both places of employment give him fond farewells and congratulations for a job well done.

The older man’s family is now larger and spread out. There are now grandchildren to sit and listen to the stories of his life. He again pulls out his guitar and plays around the pool. The grill is sizzling with his signature barbecue sausage.  He smiles with gratitude at the life he has been given.

The man has reached old age and his health is failing. Time grows short as he reaches out to his family and others in a time of reflection. The old man tells of how peace is how the world should be. He reflects that war should be a last resort. There is no glory in seeing the suffering of others. In the end war only brings misery to mankind.

As an engineer the old man has built things throughout his career. Wonderful bridges that he has pointed out to his family every time they drive through the state. He reminds them that bridges connect people to one another.

The family mourns as their father has passed away.  Through the comfort of hospice care he has been granted a peaceful passing. They reflect upon the blessings of having known and lived with this man. His life lessons will remain with them for life.

strawberry patch park memorial april 24

The spirit of the man looks down upon his loved ones and smiles. God has granted him this one final glimpse before moving on to Heaven and eternity. He reflects upon the love given and then turns and walks into eternity.

**In loving memory of my father and uncle who heeded the military call and truly believed that peace between all nations would bring us together. They are gone but never forgotten.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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cypress swamp inspiration life lifestyles mississippi travel natchez trace

Natchez Trace: An Adventure at Cypress Swamp

The Natchez Trace has a long history of explorers. From the beginning of the Natchez Trace in Natchez, Mississippi to the end in Nashville, Tennessee are 440 miles of pure wonder. This is a wonderful road trip filled with many adventures. Each part of the Natchez Trace tells a story of times when Mississippi was a frontier.

Jess and I decided to explore a site on the Natchez Trace that is an hour from our home. We visited the Cypress Swamp off the Natchez Trace and experienced the beauty of dark waters, cypress trees, and reflections from the sun.

The exploration of the Cypress Swamp began as soon as we parked the truck. There is a large sign explaining some of the swamp’s history. We read the sign and then continue walking to the stairs leading to the bridge that crosses the swamp. The stairs are made of wood and steep. There is a sharp drop between some of the steps so we proceed slowly down watching our every move. Finally we reach the last step and move onto the bridge.

cypress swamp stairs march 2017

The stairs and bridge across the swamp show all types of life. The still black waters are the home to bugs, snakes, and the occasional alligator. A few young cypress trees are on dry land. There are trees and undergrowth surrounding the swamp. The quiet is interrupted by the sounds of birds from the surrounding paths. I take several photographs and Jess is filming a video to be posted on YouTube about our experiences on the swamp.  Serenity is abundant in this tranquil environment as we walked the trail.

alligator on the golf course may 5

The still black water is haunting and stagnant on this sun filled afternoon. The cypress trees reflect in the sunlight causing a mirror of trees to reflect in the swamp. It is truly a beautiful site to behold. I ponder the meaning of the stillness.

I am struck by the large cypress trees that inhabit this ecosystem. They are still but yet teaming with life. This swamp has been here for many years and I wonder at the stories the trees would tell of the visitors who come here if they could speak.

cypress tree seedlings april 20

These cypress trees will take root when the swamp does not have much water. As the swamp fills with water, the trees will live in this environment for an extended period of time. Cypress trees in this swamp have adapted to the environment.

The cypress trees tell a story of survival and life in the forest. Long ago a river channel fed this area and a swamp developed. As the cycle of life in nature has continued the river channel has slowly dried up and is now no longer supplying life-giving water to the swamp. The change is gradual and will take a long time but eventually the cypress trees will be gone. It will be replaced by new types of trees and undergrowth. It is a sad thought to me that this swamp will disappear and future generations will not have this serene and tranquil experience. Still the cycle of life must continue with death and renewal.

cypress swamp trees 1 march 31

Jess and I reflect upon life and ponder some questions about it. Are all living things meant to continue or disappear completely? Will the cypress trees be remembered or just a distant memory? Nature continues to grow and renew itself. Like us there are parts of our lives that continue and other parts that disappear. The memories of our lives will be gone within a few generations. There will be new stories and adventures to be told and experienced.

cypress swamp from left side march 31

The sun continues to reflect the trees as we continue our journey across the cypress swamp bridge. We look for an alligator, snake, or some other form of swamp life but are disappointed to only find insects grazing across the water. The stillness is deafening as we approach the end of the bridge. Carefully we watch our steps while climbing up the steep stairways.

I turn to take a few more photographs while Jess is finishing filming for the afternoon. We discuss the introduction and ending to the video of Cypress Swamp. It is difficult to decide what is the most interesting experience in this swamp. Jess and I decide to edit the video and see what story the cypress trees would like to tell.

The time has come for us to leave this beautiful swamp. It is a relaxing ride home on the Natchez Trace and we return to our home refreshed. Nature has renewed our spirits and we are ready for the next adventure.

copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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daily prompt inspiration life lifestyles Mississippi nature spiritual squirrel

Bitter: How a Family of Squirrels Won the Bird Feeder War

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There is a family of squirrels at the bird feeder this morning. It is difficult if not impossible to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder. Each day there is a constant war going on between me and those squirrels. I have become bitter toward this rodent.

Such is the way that events affect us in life. The battle with the squirrels eats away at my soul. It has become an illness in my life weakening me each time I get after them with the broom. To the observers in the house watching me chase the squirrels with the broom it is quite funny and they are entertained each day.

In an effort to make peace with the squirrels and repair the damage to my soul, I have decided to understand the life of this animal. In many ways it is a cute little rodent that is fun to watch.

Squirrels are small rodents that live in the woods. They come in a variety of gray and brown colors. The ones in my yard are light gray with big fluffy tails. The squirrel normally lives in a wooded area where there is protection from predators. The wooded area provides a place to burrow and make a warm pleasant home.

The squirrel likes to eat a variety of nuts, plants, and meat if it is available. A rodent with a well-balanced diet is healthy and playful. Bird seed is an easy food to obtain and apparently extremely tasty to a squirrel.

The war with the squirrels continues as I write this piece. We are at the critical point in the morning where the bird seed is gone from the ground. The time for the acrobatics has begun. Watching a squirrel scale the poles of the feeders is entertaining to watch. Climbing and sliding down the pole several times is the game of the day until the edge of the feeder is reached. The squirrel grabs some seed and shakes the feeder. This small amount of bird seed sustains him until the next round.

The second act is now upon us as the other squirrels attempt to jump on the feeder from the retaining wall. It is a bit of a distance but these persistent little rodents are successful in landing on the side of the feeder. The bird seed scatters to the ground and the squirrels on the bottom of the feeder delight in the prize. It is reminiscent of a pinata being broken and the candy spilling to the ground.

By this time the game is old and I decide to allow the squirrels to have the remainder of the bird feed. It would be nice if a hawk would come and scare these rodents away from the yard. Ah there is the bitterness creeping back into my soul.

My husband suggests that instead of feeling bitter each morning that I find a compromise that ends the war. Since negotiation with the squirrels is not possible due to communication issues I decide to take action that will be acceptable to both parties.

The first action will be to scatter a certain portion of the bird seed on the ground for the squirrels. There will be some seed near the feeder and other seed a little distance away. This will ensure that there is seed for them and the birds.

The second action is to observe what time the squirrels appear in the feeder. By changing the refill times on the bird feeder the seed will last for a longer time. The birds will have a chance to enjoy the feeder.

My last course of action is to watch and enjoy the antics of these rodents. They are entertaining to observe running from each feeder trying to win the prize of bird seed. If left alone to eat the squirrels appear to pose for photographs. We both win on this one since photography is a hobby of mine.

With this course of action the war will end. Bitterness will be replaced with joy and all will be right in the world again. The squirrels will have their food and be happy with the cornucopia put before them each day.

My soul is nourished and renewed as I ponder the possibilities of a day without bitterness for these rodents. It will be nice not to be running outside every ten minutes with a broom. My family will miss their entertainment each morning but there will be peace within my soul.

copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Bitter

Categories
history life mississippi travel natchez trace personal preservation

Rocky Springs : An Adventure into the Past

Rocky Springs is an adventure into Mississippi history. Located on the Natchez Trace the ghost town has now been transformed into a campground and a trail detailing it’s past life. The remnants of this town are haunting and intriguing. Jess and I pack a picnic lunch and take to the Natchez Trace for an afternoon adventure.

Visitors entering into Rocky Springs are greeted by beautiful trees in the forest landscape. The paved road is filled with the options of turning into the campground or driving and parking at the entrance to the trail around the remnants of Rocky Springs. We decide to park at the trail and tour the site before our picnic.  At the entrance to the trail there is a board enclosed in glass that has a map of the trail.

The trail begins with the birth of the town and ends at the remaining sites of Rocky Springs. The sites contain an old church and a cemetery. A haunting reminder of the history of this town. The trail is beautiful and surrounded by a forest. The sun shines through the trees on this day and there is a pleasant breeze. Jess and I read the signs of the birth of Rocky Springs.

The ecosystem surrounding this area had a spring that served as a source of life for the plant and wildlife. In the late 1700’s this was a perfect spot to form the town of Rocky Springs.  The Natchez Trace was still well-traveled and there was farmland close by to provide food and cotton for traders. Rocky Springs thrived for many years as a community.

It is not hard to picture the life of the people at this town. The town was growing at a steady pace. There were merchants, teachers, and doctors to aid the people in their daily lives. This was a prosperous time when the people would be laughing and enjoying life. The ecosystem is alive with birds, animals, and other wildlife. It was a wonderful time to live in Rocky Springs.

As the years passed there were changes in the ecosystem. Hard times began to fall on the people of Rocky Springs and the surrounding farms. The landscape became diseased and crops began to fail. These changes may have been preventable if the people had known how to manage the land . Insects and erosion became the invading army and the land was devastated. The people began to move away as the food supply dwindled and the hard times continued. It would take years for the ecosystem to recover. But as time passed and preservation initiatives took hold the land regained its fertility.

rocky springs tree april 28

Other changes were occurring in the life of the town. The country was experiencing the Civil War and it would not be long before the war reached the town. Many people on both sides of the battles were killed or wounded. The blood shed would aid the poor management of the land to destroy the town.It was a horrible time in history for all involved.

This war would cause much hardship to all people in the country. Rocky Springs was one of many towns in the country to suffer. Many tears would be shed over the loss of loved ones and economic stability. Years would pass before the people of both sides could move forward. There is much pain and suffering in a war.

A third invader of the land would mark the end of the town. Yellow fever is a disease that took many lives. There was no modern medicine to aid the people and the cause of the disease was poorly understood. The outbreak would be contained and the survivors were relieved. The disease would be contained for several years and then returned to inflict pain and suffering once more. The death toll continued to rise. The remaining people would move on in search of a better life.

rocky spring cemetery april 28

Eventually Rocky Springs became a ghost town with a beautiful church and a haunting cemetery left to tell the story. The church is still alive and services are held in the building. The cemetery behind the church has many old graves of people who once lived in this thriving town. It is a solemn reminder of how fragile life is and how we are only in this world for a brief time.

rocky springs church 2 april 28

Jess and I make our way to the campground to find a picnic table. The afternoon sun is warm and the gentle breeze is still flowing through the trees. We enjoy our food and then pack the truck to return home. The Natchez Trace continues to be a pleasant drive with beautiful scenery. We reflect upon our blessings and ponder on what our next adventure will be.

copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce