By Ronald Sitton
MEMPHIS (Jan. 13) – Yesterday’s mists turned into today’s showers, making it hard to see down Interstate 40 as I returned to Memphis after going home to Little Rock last night.
While that may seem like quite a drive for a conference, I believe it’s relative. A thought struck somewhere along I-40 that thinking takes time, and taking your time seems to be the true mark of a Southerner.
When taking your time, you see things others might overlook. On glancing out my window just prior to reaching Brinkley, I noticed a field full of geese. At first I thought it might be snow, but of course it’s raining and too warm for anything to stick. I pulled over in time to get a picture of a flock taking flight.
|Hometown? – Although Brinkley considers itself the hometown of the rediscovered Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, other Arkansas residents claimed to have seen the bird in the Southeast portion of the state.|
Just down the road, a billboard boasts “Brinkley, Home of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker” in reference to the 2004 rediscovery of the bird once thought extinct. The grainy footage caught by researchers led some to claim that the stories of this rediscovery are just wives tales. To be honest, even if it’s only a story, it does not matter.
While attending the University of Tennessee, I’d travel back and forth between Knoxville and Little Rock. On more than one occasion, I took the Brinkley/Cotton Plant exit for a gas stop. The discovery of the Lord God Bird made a remarkable change to this area.
Just west of town next to the interstate stands a new convention center. Where once stood an abandoned-looking hotel, now the Ivory Billed Inn beckons tourists from around the world hoping to gain a glimpse of what they once believed to be extinct.
In short, the idea of the “The Lord God Bird” still being alive despite man’s destruction of its habitat keeps hope alive, and that’s priceless.
Of course, I have heard tales of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker being seen as far south as Crossett. With the waterways and woods of eastern Arkansas, I find it easy to believe the bird surely must be somewhere amongst those trees.
Upon finally making it back to Memphis, I had to stop in midtown at Shang Hai Oriental Restaurant on Poplar Avenue to eat Vietnamese food. I enjoyed the Pad Khing with shrimp before heading back to the conference. I’m also enjoying the free WiFi provided at the conference, though sometimes it goes in and out. I had to switch to a landline just to get on again. 🙁