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Share your “creek culture” with a new generation

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• If you were blessed to be raised near a creek, thank the Creator. Take a child with you the next time you immerse yourself in creek culture.

It always seemed like it took forever to get there.

When you’re five years old, navigating an abandoned farm road under a dense canopy of white oaks and sweet gum trees while dodging endless blackberry bushes was more of an expedition than a leisurely trail ride.

Despite my daddy’s constant warnings to wear a hat and long sleeves, the sticky summertime days always begged for a pony tail and a tank top. Still, the destination was worth sustaining minor cuts and scratches on both my arms and face while jumping red clay mud holes on my pony Cupcake.

As we ambled on, Cupcake would occasionally give the old walnut trees and crepe myrtles a silent nod, like he was listening to the voices of farm families that carved out a living in the wilderness long ago.

Once we finally arrived at the celestial water of our beloved Boggles Creek, Cupcake’s head would immediately drop to relish its sweet flavor, purified perfectly by the sweetbay magnolias and tulip poplars hugging the bank. Occasionally, during the sweltering summer months, Cupcake would drop more than just his head, even if I was still mounted.

To me, Boggles Creek was more than just the perfect place to spend hours splashing my sister out of the best swimming holes.

Though I lost my share of Barbie dolls to its swift rapids, what I remember most was the time my sister and I spent listening to Daddy rattle. He never failed to point out Granddaddy’s Jeep crossing because it gave him a perfect transition for telling stories about rounding up stray cattle in the woods when he was growing up.

He also made sure we left the creek knowing more than just family history. Every plant clinging to the banks and every animal darting through this “gravel ford” (Granddaddy’s label) had a reason for being there. I owe my love of creek culture solely to him.

An image of nostalgia and paradise, Boggles Creek is situated quietly in the middle of a central Alabama swamp, and home to some of the most diverse life forms on earth. Yellow root creeps along the water’s edge. Mountain laurels and wild azaleas hang gently from the bank. White oaks and loblolly pines tower proudly overhead.

If you listen long enough, a pileated woodpecker will make his haughty presence known or a very perturbed red-tailed hawk will pitch a fit about the invasion of his territory.

One glance at the sugar-white sandy shores will reveal the creek regulars — white-tailed deer, raccoons, snapping turtles and beavers.

A careful observer can even spot a crawfish trying desperately to claw his way upstream in search of food as tiny minnows swim rapidly past.

The beauty of riparian areas like Boggles Creek transcends our ability to completely grasp their significance. These places provide a vital habitat for plants such as bald cypress trees and jewelweeds and animals such as swamp rabbits and alligators.

They are also home to unique water-filtering soils that are crucial for healthy ground water.

If you were blessed to be raised near a creek, thank the Creator. Take a child with you the next time you immerse yourself in creek culture.

The next generation won’t understand the need to conserve these wetland areas if they aren’t connected to them. You can’t create that kind of connection to the resource through television and the Internet.

You have to splash it on your face.

 

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