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It’s been two years now since I started Outdoors Down South and to the extent I get questions, the most frequent one is why I write it. The truth is, even after more than 120 columns, I haven’t really been able to put my finger on it.
Sure, I enjoy telling stories about my friends and family members. That’s a nearly endless well of humor that doesn’t show signs of drying up any time soon. And so far, none of those folks have filed a lawsuit or started a revenge blog.
I’ve learned a lot too, checking my memories against those of others who saw the same events from another perspective or who heard the old stories differently.
The blog also has given me a chance to reconnect with people who are important to me, meet new people who share my interests and develop an even greater appreciation for growing up when and where I did. As happy as I was to leave home, there are times when I’d give anything to be back. And as much as I’ve laughed about my upbringing, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
That brings me to another reason I enjoy writing this blog, which is to preserve a little of the history of the region. Not so much the dates and numbers and facts, but more the character (and the characters) that make it special.
It’s sad that our world is becoming more generic, whitewashed and corporate. Even hunting and fishing are more commercialized than they were when I was growing up.
I want to make sure my kids (and others) realize that wasn’t always the case. I want them to know about the hilarious, outrageous personalities who came before them – the people whose grit, guts and gall enabled them to carve a living out of these swamps and piney woods long before we arrived. They deserve to be remembered long after we’re gone.
What I don’t want is to see the Apalachicola region become another on that long list of once proud, unique areas absorbed by development and growth. When that happens, natives are crowded out, their stories are lost to time and their culture is pushed aside in favor of more socially acceptable activities.
That’s not okay with me. Not when we’re talking about home.
But change happens whether we like it or not. Things are different now than they were when I was young. They’ll be even more different years from now. There’s not a whole lot I can do to keep that from happening.
What I can do, though, is write. And by writing, I can preserve a few of the memories and little bits of the character that might otherwise be lost.
If that’s the case, then these columns serve a useful purpose. Otherwise, they have at least kept me entertained and occupied for a couple of years.
That alone is reason enough to keep it going.