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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in sense of place (1)


sense of place

Friday we loaded our van with three guns, two boys, six electronic devices and one frozen fish on board for his last ride to a taxidermist. We headed west then south to the land of my childhood - the Mississippi Delta. As we descended the last hill for miles, I rolled down my windows to smell the Delta and involuntarily my body danced to “Pride and Joy.” Stevie Ray Vaughn heralded our arrival home at sunset. 

As the blue moon rose over the flattest place on earth, I snapped photos of the landscape, cotton crops white in the fields and, of course, the moon. It felt like a blue moon since I had last put my feet on this flat ground of home. 

The first time I heard the phrase “sense of place,” I mopped sweat and took notes furiously in a southern studies class. Barnard Observatory at Ole Miss must have been the last classroom at the university to get air conditioning. I listened mesmerized for a semester as my professor told me things in words that my soul already understood. 

 Rarely does an academic truth ring so true in your bones. 

Yesterday as Sam and I rolled into the dove field on the gator driven by my step-brother Justin, these words came back to me and my soul testified. We motored by the house where I grew up and I was 5 again watching the cotton pickers from my playhouse window. We bumped along the banks of the Sunflower River on the dirt turn row where I practiced my long jump and took second place in fifth grade. A turn row is a dirt road where the tractors turn around. I pointed to the spot to show Sam where I had seen the alligator. He’s heard the story a hundred times. Now he could add the texture of geography to it.

We turned west away from the river and snaked through a labyrinth of dead sunflowers.  Row after row covered the terrain and called to the doves. My daddy had lovingly and meticulously prepared the field. Turn rows divided the dove field into plots. Hunters stationed at each plot sat above their kill on camouflaged stools and chairs. We rounded the corner, and I could hardly make out Joshua, 12. He mixed right in with the dead sunflowers. He and Matt had been hunting since sunrise. 

Something like satisfaction filled me up seeing my son and his daddy hunting so close to where I roamed as a child. We were nearly on the exact spot of my one and only duck hunt. My sisters and I had pestered my daddy so much that he finally took us. When we complained of being cold, my daddy had us sit on the dead ducks for warmth. We wished for the Schnapps that kept the men warm. We were cold enough to comply and tentatively placed our rumps on those poor ole birds. It worked, but we never asked to go again. 

In contrast, on this day we would’ve traded an arm for a cool breeze. The sun beat down and the doves skated in and out of the sunflowers playing a deadly game of hide and seek. When Justin came back with the gator, his daughter Ann Lamar had the wheel. I won’t divulge her age and tempt law officials to issue a warning. What age gives you the right to drive a gator? We piled back in and headed across the street from where I spent the first 17 years of my life. 

I lingered in the sunset playing with labrador pups and taking my children to see the river. The bridge in the distance saluted and I told them again of the shenanigans of my youth. Watching through the cracks in the bridge for the pigeons’ nests full of eggs. Riding bikes fast as we could by the fisherman. Playing in the abandoned house right across the bridge.

As I snapped the last photo of the day, I looked westward and noticed that the clouds seemed to form a path. My future awaits. Stories yet untold.