Saturday, May 29, 2004

Can't get there from here

There's a program on the Turner South network called The Natural South. They just showed two episodes in a row. The first was about fossil-hunting in Alabama. I looked up the chalky Cretaceous rock types they were working in, and I think it was the Eutaw Formation and Selma Group of western and central Alabama--really neat stuff that I need to take a road trip to investigate. Mosasaurs and such.

The second was on frogs and snakes. The naturalists were tromping around in the Savannah River basin, which isn't really our ecosystem, but it was still cool. A naturalist on the second program said, "If you have snakes on your land, generally you have a pretty healthy piece of land." I liked that.

Thanks to Ray, who posted this link on Witho's BF's nascent blog, I've been thinking about why I write what I write here. I think the natural world is at the core of it--not all of it, but definitely at the core.

Remember when R.E.M.'s Murmur came out? The album (and those that followed it) made an indelible impression on me. But the cover art lingered, too. That kudzu-covered train trestle in Athens, Ga. symbolized something that was foreign to me. Something gothic and haunting that a lot of writers from Oxford, Mississippi and thereabouts have maybe captured for their own times, but which evolves every moment into a new entity. And when I came to this part of the world, I started discovering what it was like living in the middle of it.

It's real. It's as tangible as the ground under your feet. It's a humid, heavy spirit made of history and mildew and fuzzy pink mimosa blossoms. I think people get it wrong most of the time, because it contradicts itself constantly.

I'm trying to get it right, at least from my own outsider point of view. And I think day-to-day life here is as close as I am going to come.