by Sally Morgan
When rounding up our young children to go someplace, my late husband Kenny Morgan often announced, “Let’s move out to the games area!” A high school coach, he pronounced the same invitation, whether for a walk to our neighbor’s vacant lot to catch fly balls, or for a drive to the country to go fishing at his sister’s pond. The meaning in either case was clear to both the kids and me—we’re going OUTSIDE, and we’re going to PLAY!
“A Sportsman’s Paradise,” Louisiana’s riches emanate from the natural, beautiful resources of its wild outdoors. Swamps, rivers, lakes, gulf waters, wooded terrain of all varieties, and bayous provide year-round opportunities for hunting, fishing, and countless other outdoor activities. Coastal wetlands and wildlife preserves make a habitat for many rare and endangered species. Louisiana is a paradise for bird watching, hiking, camping, and biking—in short, a natural playground.
Louisiana’s real riches are those experienced by a person with his or her senses piqued. And, when would you have a better chance to notice heightened senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound than when you are playing in an outdoor paradise? Those times are little gifts along the way that turn into the deeper riches of life.
Experiencing Louisiana’s Outdoors Provides Riches for its Residents and Visitors
Families: a place in which they grow. Many vacations and short trips with our kids were centered on being in the out-of-doors. On one such trip, we left home without any fishing gear, planning just to be out in the country near my husband’s hometown of historic Jackson, Louisiana. Upon arriving for a visit, Kenny looked at the nearby pond, and thought, “Fishing!” He instructed the kids to go into a cane thicket to select, and Kenneth to cut some long poles with a favorite hatchet. Turned out this was Kenneth’s favorite part, along with rigging the old fashioned cane poles with fish hooks and 12-pound fishing line his daddy happened to have in the truck; then he was ready to go chase geese.
Our friend, and the children’s surrogate uncle, Butch Trahan soon arrived with some earthworms. Amelia attentively listened to Butch’s and Kenny’s instructions about what parts of the bank to stand on, how to bait hooks with the cool, earth-scented worms, and fish with the primitive pole. Amelia persevered, and caught a basket of clear water catfish and bass, besides the four pound ones we released, according to Kenny.
Food: a wellspring providing. I got to fry a delicious mess of fish that night.
Louisiana. Synonymous. With. Good. Food.
Faith: a calling. In the dedication to his second book on turkey hunting, Kenny wrote, “In His great scheme of things, God has in instilled us His prized qualities, among them the ‘hunter-gatherer instinct’ present in us all. This instinct has enabled us to proceed through history at an accelerated rate, to survive, to flourish…. After 35 years of teaching our young people, I can assure you that this most admirable trait is still present in our youth.” In the stillness of the outdoors, I can’t help but marvel at the gifts God placed in and around me.
Fun: an on-switch. My own memories of growing up in Baton Rouge center on playing outside: going barefoot, swinging on a rope swing, feeling the dusty dirt between my toes under the live oak, playing baseball with my brother who taught me to pitch, catch and hit. My sister and I dressed-up and saddled-up on broomstick horses to play Lone Ranger and Tonto.
Ah, the grass! Lots of St. Augustine grass; lying in the grass. Watching ants crawling past blades of it that, from the ants’ perspective, were towering stalks. Some 30 years later, recalling my experience of childhood imagination, awe, and wonder about this ant kingdom was the subject of my favorite speech I gave at Toastmasters, “Why God Made Us Kids First.”
Friends: a gathering place. A long-time visitor from another state and close friend of Kenny’s put it this way: “Now, in the elder statesman time of life, my love for hunting is mixed with a love of the companionship I knew for a close circle of friends, who also found excitement and wonder for all the many mysterious flora and fauna of the wild.”
We don’t have too far to look. It requires paying attention. We have riches in our own backyard.
To learn more about Sally’s publishing and Kenny’s works, visit Morgan’s Americana at www.wildturkeys.com
ABOUT SALLY: Sally Morgan is independent publisher of the 2014 coffee table book by Kenny Morgan, her late husband – America, Wild Turkeys & Mongrel Dogs: Life Lessons from a Hunting Master, Foreword by Bert Jones. Before Kenny’s death in 2011, he and Sally distributed 100 of his signed manuscript Limited Editions. For ordering and more information, visit www.WildTurkeys.com.
Sally has worked in construction management 30+ years, in industry, and teaching at LSU and Texas A&M. She holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.