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Before I moved to Indiana for graduate school at Anderson University, I grew up in none other than West Monroe, Louisiana, the home of lots of ducks and the dynasty they spawned. After grad school I married my sweetheart from Fort Wayne and for twenty years it’s been a second home and birthplace for three of our boys.

Fort Wayne offers lots to enjoy in dining, shopping, culture and social life. The quality of downtown architecture resembles a city twice its size and the soaring church spires speak of devotion. But some of our family’s favorite spots are found off the beaten path. Countless times we’ve taken to the city’s outskirts for solitary treks through the woods of Fox Island nature preserve and hours of exploration in the broad glacial moraine where the Erie Canal once flowed.

Climbing up and down the steep dunes of Fox Island, I’ve sometimes paused to look up through the soaring tree branches and thought back to my walks in the wilds of the South. Driving along the Wabash River takes my mind along its winding course to the Ohio and the Mississippi all the way down to Ole’ New Orleans. The huge Midwestern watershed gathers up millions of gallons of water from the most obscure little farm towns and deposits it in the Gulf of Mexico. This living system unifies the heartland.

The deep delta backwoods have provided a home to people since nearly the dawn of time.m While the seasons faithfully change from summer’s oppressive humidity to autumn’s blue skies, then to winter’s penetrating chill and finally spring’s eruption of tantalizing scents and irresistible babies in their burrows, Louisiana families do what they do best…enjoy the zest of life.

The Mississippi River delta has lots of woods, lots of wildlife, lots of history, lots of delicious food, lots of memories and lots of stories. To gather up and share some of these great stories I’ve put together a book called West Monroe Backwoods. Guaranteed to bring at least one chuckle and a tear or two, it tells about things like the time a rattle snake bit my older sister at summer camp, how a huge black bear wandered into a local hotel and introduces the greatest American hunter of the 19th century.  It also shares some heart-warming relationships between father and daughter, mother and son.

I hope that in a hectic and sometimes frightening world, readers will come away from West Monroe Backwoods and say like Samwise did in the Lord of the Rings, “There’s still some good in the world…and it’s worth fighting for.”

So pour yourself a hot coffee, turn down the fire on supper and lace up your boots for a meaningful walk into the wild. West Monroe Backwoods by Ron Coody, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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Ron Coody

In April 2002 his family moved from Waynedale to Istanbul, Turkey on a work assignment. This is not the first time he has lived outside the United States. His overseas perspective of events in the U.S. lends a different outlook to readers of his column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer