Latitude Adjustment

The sun rises over the Gulf of Mexico in Pass Christian, MS, with a row of sea oats bisecting the white sand.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

A new day is rising.  A faint pink glow signals the coming of the sun.  It rises like a great red lamp, tucking itself into a thick line of dark grey clouds.  Below, the Gulf of Mexico is wide and flat like a piece of slate.  The water rolls calmly into shore, one slow, gentle wave after another. 

The hard, imaginary line of the horizon is broken by a far-off row of trees growing on a barrier island out in the distance.  Sea birds fly down the beach, and their bodies become black shadows against the painted sky.

Footprints press into the white sand of the beach in Pass Christian, MS along the Gulf Coast.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I have traveled South again, here to the place where my stories were born.  I have come to witness another kind of birth altogether; the tender majesty of a new life coming into this world.  This child’s story is just beginning.  What twists and turns will the plot of her life take?  What amazing qualities will combine to make up her character?  The magic of new life crackles in the air.

I am very near the place where my own daughter was born.  I wonder.  Does the earth know her here?  Is some part of her left behind in this place where she began?

An arm tattoo showing the lunar eclipse rests on the page of a notebook with the words Karma Imagine.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

On the night my daughter was born, the earth cast its shadow across the moon in a lunar eclipse.  It glowed reddish orange as it hung against a black sky. In that time and that place, it seemed as if the entire universe made way for her.  I felt time stop and shudder beneath me.

Whenever I am here, I feel the weight of great age hanging in the humid air.  This place thrums with the beat of a million long stories.

I love the raw, wild beauty of this place.  I love the variety of life and the green, lurid shapes of things.  I love the people, and the voices, and how the very land shaped these things and gave them form.  It is for all these reasons and more that I have set my collection of short fiction here along the Gulf Coast.

The branches of Live Oaks twist in a green forest in Pearlington, MS.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

The connection between place and people is palpable in the South.  It is woven into the very threads of the souls who live here.  The wetlands are alive with the rhythm of the water as it moves back and forth across the land.  This environment is swirling and volatile.

Paradoxically, this place remains very much as it has always been.  It moves, but does not change.  The alligator still swims in the bayous and the rivers as it always has, the undisputed King of Mississippi.

An alligator swims along the surface of the water, its body visible and its legs tucked back against itself.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

The sun arches over the Gulf as an ancient cycle rises and falls, carving out the shape of this place. 

The people who live in the South are also shaped by these forces.  Old things root themselves in the ground here and stick like thorns.  Old ideas rust in people’s minds and stay there, lodged in place.

A sign reads KEEP OUT on an old house in Pearlington, MS.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

I have found that the good and the bad are in equal proportion, in this place and all others.  Despite its flaws, or perhaps in spite of them, the Gulf South possesses a soul of the most elegant nature.  It is hard and rough and beautiful and shiny and fast and slow.  It is all of these things at once, huddled against each other.

I seek this truth through my writing, weaving this place into my words.

Laughing gulls challenge the camera against a blue sky in Pass Christian, MS along the Gulf Coast.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Do you share my affinity for the Gulf Coast?  Let me know in the comments below!

To be notified of more posts like this one, be sure to follow me in LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE!

Adjust your latitude!

Head down South and check out the Gulf Coast for yourself!  See the sights, meet the people, and immerse yourself in this singular place. While you’re there, don’t forget to try the fantastic food this region is famous for! Check out the resources below and start planning a trip!

Mississippi Gulf Coast Official Website

Louisiana Gulf Coast Travel Information

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9 thoughts on “Latitude Adjustment

  1. Your words are beautiful! I love the gulf and I’m pulled to Destin, especially. We’ve visited there for many years, and I mourned the loss of my husband by visiting the place he loved above all others, many years ago. A part of my soul lives in that Gulf because of the memories of happiness bound by its waters.

    Looking forward to seeing you in MOOC.

    Like

    • Sherry, I just noticed this comment. I am so sorry I did not reply before. Thanks for sharing your love for the Gulf in those beautiful words. I’ve missed reading your stories! Are you taking the MOOC right now? I haven’t had time yet but plan to start this week.

      Like

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! To touch a reader’s heart with my words is more than enough for me, and your saying so moves me beyond measure. I am glad someone so intimately acquainted with the South found truth in how I have tried to put it on the page.

      Like

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