Sunday, July 31, 2011

Necessary Journeys: Part II
Port Sulfur, Louisiana

On a rather dreary, rainy Saturday, my husband and I left New Orleans and headed south to what many folks refer to as "the end of the world."

It's nicknamed "the end of the world" because its southern most town Venice, is located about 75 miles south of New Orleans and is situated on the west bank of the Mississippi river.

I was born in a little town north of Venice called Port Sulfur. My parents lived there a very brief time before moving back to New Orleans.It had been more than twenty perhaps thirty years since I had made the journey down to that part of the county. There was not a lot there when I was a child except oil wells, fishing boats and bar rooms. Then there was Katrina in 2005 that destroyed everything. I had a deep longing to go back and see? See what? I wished I knew.

My mother had two sisters and a brother that lived in this area. One of those sisters had orange tree orchards just like this one. I recall how we used to play in the orchards on hot summer days. I remember heat, humidity and mosquitoes...lots and lots of mosquitoes.

And so I had made it here. And just as I had thought there were still many signs of hurricane Katrina plain and visible for all to see. Even the sulfur refining company for which the town is named for is no longer there. Most folks are still living in trailers. Some of the businesses are operated from trailer like structures.

I had kind of thought I might find the actual place where I was born. It was once just a little white wooded building that was situated among many trees. We stopped and asked one of the elder locals if he knew where the old hospital was. He did know and directed us right to where it once stood.

One of the first things I noticed was how very close to the Gulf of Mexico it was. Here we are in our car on the levee overlooking the gulf. This levee is about fifty yards from where the little hospital once stood. Is it any wonder why I have such an affinity for water?

Here is the little group of trees where my journey began. I was happy to find it and unable to articulate why, but my thoughts went something like this. "See here it is! This is it! Yes sir ree! One day fifty-eight years ago my Momma came right here to this very spot and gave birth to me!" I wondered how things went for her--did she experience a lot of pain? How long was she in labor? From my birth certificate I recall weighing in at just a little over nine pounds and made my debut entrance into this world on the night shift. Funny thing huh?

I had to post this picture just for proof that you do ride down Hwy 23 look up and watch boats go by. This boat was on the east side of the road so it was traveling on the Mississippi river. East side River--west side Gulf of Mexico.

It was good to see that even the people "at the end of the world" still have hope. Without the cross how hopeless we all would be.

I asked my husband to let's just drive until the road ends. I wanted to go all the way to the very end of "the end of the world."

I was hoping to find the end of the road, perhaps a sunset, a rainbow maybe? Nope...we found water. Water on the left, water on the right and water straight ahead. It is a land located below sea level...add a little rain and this is what you get. We probably got within a half mile before the end and decided not to push our luck and car one more inch and turned around. I didn't think our little car would make it but it did.

Water is a good thing though. Water equals life. And the end of the road is not always what it seems and that is a good thing as well. I was happy to have made this journey.

The End Of The Road Is But A Bend In The Road
by Helen Steiner Rice

When we feel we have nothing left to give
And we are sure that the "song has ended"--
When our day seems over and the shadows fall
And the darkness of night has descended,

Where can we go to find the strength
To valiantly keep on trying,
Where can we find the hand that will dry
The tears that the heart is crying--

There's but one place to go and that is to God
And, dropping all pretense and pride,
We can pour out our problem without restraint
And gain strength with Him at our side--

And together we stand at life's crossroads
And view what we think is the end,
But God has a much bigger vision
And he tells us it's only a bend--

For the road goes on and is smoother,
And the "pause in the song" is a "rest,"
And the part that's unsung and unfinished
Is the sweetest and richest and best--

So rest and relax and grow stronger,
Let go and let God share your load,
Your work is not finished or ended,
You've just come to "a bend in the road."

Blessings of peace & all that is good.


Susan said...

Great post. I enjoyed traveling there with you. Sort of reminded me of my husband & I and two close friends going to the northern most part we could drive to in Nova Scotia called Meat Cove. We felt like we had gone to the top of the world. It was a great feeling!!!!

mississippi artist said...

Thanks for sharing your trip. That is a wonderful poem, I have never read it before.I have always wondered why certain things leave such an impression on us even at a very early age.

forsythia said...

What a lovely tree at the site of the old hospital. I'm guessing that the hospital was not blown away by Katrina, but just shut down some time ago as did many small-town hospitals over the past 50 years. Still, it was nice for you to see where you had your beginning, even if it was at "the end of the world."

Sonja said...

Our brains seem to be on the same wave length. I just posted a 'wandering back in time' memory too. Yours was lovely, and I love the way you ended it, the photo and then you turned the car around and headed back. The poem is precious. Do you think we are going back in time cuz we are getting old... surely not!! :)


Anonymous said...

I can almost hear the Lord speaking to our generation that we can't move forward until we look back and discover where we came from.
I am sensing He's showing you so much more on this necessary journey than just the sights, sounds and scenery of your past.
I am SO enjoying traveling this journey with you. And I love the way you pull us in and make us feel like we've known you forever. Perhaps we have?
Hugs and blessings,

Marilyn in Mississippi said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

I loved traveling with you on your trip to the end of the road! Seems we are the same age...58. And evidently your Mother is already gone as is mine or else you would be able to ask her about your birth. I have so many questions I wish I could have asked Mama before she passed away when I was sixteen.

I'm a visual person so really enjoyed the pictures!

God bless you! Mississippi

Grayquill said...

Hmmmm....there does seem to be a few more bends in the road then I ever expected.

Anonymous said...

What a charming post. Thank you for taking us with you to the "end of the world."

Finding Pam said...

"Water is a good thing though. Water equals life. And the end of the road is not always what it seems and that is a good thing as well. I was happy to have made this journey."

I love this sentence...

I've never been that far in Louisiana. We once lived in Morgan City where we taught school.

I, too, am on a genealogical journey. My family hails from Alabama.

Your post is so poignant.

Travis Cody said...

It's all in the way we look at stuff, isn't it?