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The Blakeley Blog

The Blakeley Blog is a forum for discussion and discovery of the incredible natural and cultural treasures found at Historic Blakeley State Park.

Many of the poems in the Blakeley Blog by Sue Walker appeared in an earlier version in In The Realm of Rivers, published by NewSouth Press in Montgomery Alabama.

  
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THE MEMORY OF LEAVES: CALLIOPE AND HECTOR VISIT BLAKELEY STATE PARK IN THE MOBILE TENSAW DELTA


This month’s blog is a piece of “flash fiction” by Dr. Walker published on Salt, Ink. It is part of a larger children’s story about two young children visiting Historic Blakeley State Park and their learning about E.O. Wilson, the Park, and its staff, who are synonymous with its ecology and history and making it come alive for young children. The two children in the story are Sue Walker’s two grandchildren, Calliope, age 8 and Hector, age 6—who are enthralled with the history of the park. Calliope went to school to tell her teacher about Blakeley.

 

“When you come visit me,” Grandma tells Calliope and Hector, “we’re going to go to Blakeley State Park, and we’re going to walk along the E.O. Wilson Boardwalk and name the trees. We’ll take a little notebook and a glue stick, and you can make a tree book. Just take a leaf and paste it in your book. Then write the name of the tree.”

“When Grandma?” Hector asks.

“Maybe when you get out of school. What do you think of that? Grandpa and I will fly to London, and you can fly back to Alabama with us. We went to New Orleans the last time you came. This time we’ll go to the Delta. Dr. Wilson said he spent the bulk of his boyhood wandering through it.”

“I wandered lonely as a cloud,” Calliope says. She loves to recite poems. “Yes. That’s Wordsworth—and he saw a field of daffodils. Calliope, let me tell you a poem and you see if you can memorize it. It’s a long poem—but here are a few special lines. My favorite is: “To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves.”

“To be a lantern in the darkness 
Or an umbrella in a stormy day; 
To feel much more than know. 
To be the eyes of an eagle, slope of a mountain; 
To be a wave understanding the influence of the moon; 
To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves;

“Who wrote that?” Calliope asks. “A man named Dejan Stojanovic who was born far away in Pec, Kosovo. He’s a poet and and philosopher. Tell your mummy to google where that is. Can you imagine learning all the countries in the world? It used to be Yugoslavia.” I like to think that all the world is connected.

“I would like to be a wave understanding the moon,” Hector says.

“Well, I think I’ll just be an Alabama pine. Maybe a loblolly pine. Maybe my needles can reach to the moon,” Grandma tells them.

“I want to learn ecology,” Hector says, using a new word he has learned. “I want to learn about rivers.”

“Can we meet Dr. Wilson at Blakeley State Park?” Calliope asks.

“Maybe. It’s possible. He loves the Park.”

“Can we meet Mr. Dejan?” Hector asks.

“Mr. Stojanovic. Can you say his last name? I don’t think we’ll meet him. He lives too far away.”

“We can imagine,” Calliope says. “And we can imagine we’re a pine tree.” She reaches her arms up to the sky.

“I’ll tell you who we can meet. We can meet Jo Ann Flirt. She’s Director of Blakeley State Park. And we can meet Mr. Mike Bunn who is Director of Operations and Assistant Director. He might give you a personal tour.”

“And we can imagine a dragon in a dogwood tree and a Unicorn in an Umbrella Pine” says Grandma.




 

 

 

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