Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Well, There Goes the Neighborhood

I was going to say "homeland" but there was a discussion in the Redbone Yahoo group between Gabe and Joyce about the true nature of homeland which I found persuasive. LV also took issue with it from a classic LV way of eviscerating something with pure facts. Did you know that James Ashworth didn't even make it to the Neutral Zone until after it was no longer the Neutral Zone? I didn't either. Anyways, "homeland" is a state of mind.

From my point of view all of Louisiana not on a major river was inaccessible and for people trying to stay away from others, it must have been very inviting. The point made by Gabe and Joyce was that "Homeland" is that place within our hearts and souls where our character is shaped and our memories are born. Point taken. If you even remotely consider yourself a Redbone, probably you do have a homeland. Mine was shaped along a creek that meanders through southwest Louisiana.

Which brings me the point of my heading. I got another letter from Bearhead yesterday. My homeland is for sale in small chunks. Terry said one developer was talking about buying some of those FEMA trailers and opening a trailer park for New Orleanian refugees who have been flung as widely across the Gulf Coast as the Acadians were in 1755. I know my Cajun cousins do not care for that analogy, but it's pretty spot on in my opinion.

One of the most romantic aspects to the land around Bearhead is that it has been owned my major lumber companies since the late 1890s and they have been content to use the land to grow trees. Tree gardens don't need fences, and Redbone cattle grazed freely over thousands and thousands of acres, just like it must have in nineteenth century Texas. When we played or rode horses, we had thousands of acres of manicured forest in which to play. You can understand why it's so easy for me to romanticize it.

But I digress. Cousins! The homeland is being sold out from under us to, god forbid, DEVELOPERS! I know progress isn't bad necessarily. I mean, if it were my farm and WalMart wanted it for a store, I'd sell and move farther back into the woods, but what are we going to do when we run out of woods?

Maybe we should all try to buy a piece of it. I'd lead the charge myself, but... Thomas Wolfe, the great American writer, said you can't go home again. Afterall, I just wrote that home is a more of a mystical place where we are shaped. You can't go back there. It ain't there no more. Besides, I've been living in the city now for 40 years. I don't think my back could take having to keep up an acre, much less 20 or 40. That pioneering stuff is for younger men and women.

Just thinking about Good Hope Cemetery sitting between a trailer park filled with urban poor from New Orleans and a strip mall conjures up images that makes me want to cry. I'm glad Gabe and Joyce convinced me to remember that a homeland is more of a state of mind, because Bearhead as I knew it is about to become a memory.

My "state of mind" is getting a headache.

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