Images of small-town spring

Published 11:00 am Monday, April 29, 2024

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All over the tri-county area, spring has opened its eyes, and ours, with a rainbow of color. Azaleas and honeysuckle are blooming everywhere, inviting rural residents outside to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of springtime in small-town communities.

After weekend rains, my backyard is alive with all the wildlife that thrives in our subtropical climate. The air is heavy with the scent of privet hedge, honeysuckle and rose fragrances. New growth, green and vibrant, springs forth from every branch and the birds have returned to sing their wild song. Cardinals, blue jays, doves and sparrows feast from my birdfeeders and lull me out of doors to enjoy their melodies.

Community organizations, like local Alabama Extension offices, are giving away saplings. The local coop and garden societies have hosted sales already and I long to fill the flowerbed with perennials which I will surely kill with lack of water before they have time to hibernate for next season.

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All seems write with the world until we view our community from the perspective of those battling circumstances with which generations before them have wrestled and failed to overcome.

Last week I toured a backyard where residents dealt with the ongoing situation of improper wastewater disposal. While I ponder the wonders of nature in Lapine, some residents of Lowndes County live with sewage, running from a failing sewage pipe onto the ground and down the hill of their property. Just steps from their own backdoor is a murky stream of waste and it has been there, off and on, for the last 60 or 70 years.

The images of nature springing to life contrast starkly with the vision of poverty and yet the two coexist in many rural communities.

Monday morning, I collected three freshly laid eggs which the hens had neatly lined up in a row. The site charmed me as it so often does, but my mind returned to another image of a puppy playing in a puddle muck oozing from one of many failing septic systems in the Black Belt region of Alabama.

Finally, there is help for those battling wastewater disposal. The Alabama Department of Public Health is working to survey the needs of households across the region so that homeowners can connect with organizations working to provide solutions. Some residents are hesitant to respond after living with the situation for so long. If you or someone you know needs assistance connecting with services that can help, visit