Monday, September 5, 2011

The Great Southern Outdoors

The Great Southern Outdoors

As I write this column, my family, friends and I are relaxing at Lake Wedowee in Randolph Co., Alabama. This Memorial Day weekend is special for many reasons. The biggest reason is that it gives us the opportunity to think about, pray about, and show gratitude for our troops both present and past. This weekend also reminds me that as southern Americans, we have a massive wealth of natural resources to enjoy with our loved ones.

This weekend, I am able to take my boys on one of the cleanest lakes in the southeast. Here, we experience the natural lake habitat which includes the waterfowl flying over at dawn, the fish in the lakes and streams, osprey nests, and the other fauna and flora which are native to this region..

The lake experience also makes me look forward to taking my son, Jake, down to  Meriwether County this fall. There is a peace which exists in the fall woods in Georgia that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. In the woods, you will see deer, turkey, and many other of God's creatures. This is all experienced while actually being in that natural environment as opposed to viewing wildlife and nature from a moving automobile.

In the mornings, the owls wake the woods with their hoots while the coyotes serenade throughout the night. Throughout the day, I can hunt with my son and teach him about the behavior and characteristics of the game animals that we pursue.  It is truly a blessing to be able to take your children into such natural environments.

I believe that God created us to commune with nature on a regular basis. In today's world, that may be harder to believe than in days past. Offices, automobiles, cell phones, and other modern inventions have taken us away from our natural environment. Many people would prefer to spend time indoors where the thermometer can be adjusted to the preferred temperature.

I am proud that Jake seems to have inherited my strong desire to be outdoors.  Shea and I can hardly keep him in the house when we are at home.  His yearning for adventure and interest in learning about the trees, animals, and environment has been a strong source of gratitude for me.

Fortunately, we live in a region of the country that not only provides enormous natural resources, but opportunity for us to enjoy it. Because of private property rights, we can own and use land in a manner that we see fit. Also, the states of Georgia and Alabama as well as the federal government have purchased property for public use as Wildlife Management Areas, state and national parks, and lake reservoirs.

This unique mixture of public/private land use allows Americans to experience the outdoors to the fullest extent possible.  In the United States, you can be rich, poor, or somewhere in between and still be able to live a lifestyle that includes the outdoors.  Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, cycling, swimming, rock climbing and shooting sports are all freely available in this country.  I cannot say this for most countries on Earth.

We enjoy these freedoms because American soldiers and patriotic citizens have and continue to protect our Constitution.  I encourage all of my readers to get outdoors a little more this year.  When you do, also think about those Americans who have sacrificed to make your outdoor experience possible.

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