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Reflections: What's A Quail, Grandpa?

reflectionsheadernosponsorcroppedEnjoy our “Reflections” post — one of many vignettes and stories featuring memories of days gone by. This installment is from Dave Hovey of Coffeeville, Mississippi, as seen in “The Oxford So & So.”
If you would like to contribute your own Reflections story, send it, along with photos, to hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

Our great grandson has never seen a wild quail or heard that bobwhite whistle. He most likely never will. We enjoy sitting out in our swing in the evenings whenever the weather permits. The swing looks out over the lower fields and creek bottom. Emma Ruth mentioned when kids, how they would run and catch fire-flys and put the glow on noses and face. I remember the sounds of the whippoorwills, I thought they sang “chip flew out of the white oak.”
I started to remember a list of creatures, trees, plants and things that have disappeared in the past few years. It became surprisingly long.
Probably the first really noticeable change was on the creek several years ago. The big mussel shells were all empty. We used to put these “clams” as we called them on our banks for bait. Now you cannot even find an empty shell. The creek has lost over half its water flow and is nearly sterile. No more soft-shelled turtles, not even small perch, minnows or catfish.
The owls no longer call back and forth or drift across the moon. No more bullfrogs croaking. Nothing but the roar up high of occasional jet aircraft on their way to Memphis or Birmingham.
Red tail hawks would circle and call or dive after mice and rabbits on hot summer days. A walk in the woods would be filled with chirps, twitters and flashes of color. Now only dead silence, not even a squirrel scolding. Just a crow or maybe cicada’s buzzing now and then with buzzards up high.
We have gained a few things, however. Armadillos, fire ants, Asian Carp, chickweed, cockleburs, poison mint, cogon grass just to name a few.
My great-grands will probably never watch a flying squirrel glide from tree to tree. Fox squirrels, bats, bees, salamanders, coachwhips, corn snakes, garter snakes, otters, minks, red foxes, chestnut trees, Ginseng, watercress, clams, Luna moths. The list seems endless, but they are nearly all gone.
We came in early last evening, the crop dusters were spraying defoliant, made our eyes burn, and the odor was like strong skunk smell.
Of course, it is part of nature for progress to occur and changes to take place. It just seems like it is happening very fast now. Sort of rushing toward a world of artificial environments, concrete, plastic, and electronic make believe.
I wonder what this new generation will tell their grandkids they had to miss or do without.

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