A Project for Students and Citizens

Living Democracy in Marion: Week Nine

In Marion on August 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

CT perry lakes 1Some lessons, like trees, take time to grow

By Catherine Tabor

“The earth has music for those who listen.”George Santayana

Nature is a majestic sight to behold. Painters, poets, and photographers have all tried to capture the beauty of nature throughout history. What is it? Why is it so gorgeous? The Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, and other natural wonders are all revered sights to be looked at and praised.

In today’s world of concrete jungles and smartphones, nature is often a forgotten relic of the past. There is something mysterious about it, and mankind tends to shy away from what it does not understand. Who made it? How did nature come to be?

Yet these questions are not pressing issues in Marion.  Nature is there to be observed and learned from. It is there, and the citizens of Marion come to appreciate at a very special place.

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The Cahaba River flows through Perry Lakes Park near Marion. (Photo by Catherine Tabor)

Perry County Lakes Park is the name of that place. It is located 5 miles east of Marion next to the State Fish Hatchery on State Highway 175. Driving by the hatchery, one could easily miss the nature reserve. But hidden in those woods lies a natural piece of art.

PerryLakes.org states: “The Perry Lakes Park and Wildlife Sanctuary contains about 600 acres available to the public for outdoor recreation, education, scientific research, and other activities. Interpretive nature trails (fire lanes and primitive paths) make walking through the woods fairly easy and fun.” With so many acres, visitors are able to discover something new each time they come to explore.

A favorite spot for visitors of Perry County Lakes Park is Barton’s Beach. There people are able to swim in the Cahaba River in relative privacy. There is even sand at the “beach” so those in the Marion area are able to go to the beach near their hometown.

Auburn University also has a special tie to Perry County Lakes Park because the Rural Studio built a birding tower in the park that provides a view of the floodplain forest and the birds in the upper canopy of trees.

Every day of the year people can come from all over the country to see the sights at Perry County Lakes Park. They just have to be sure to arrive after sunrise and leave before sundown.

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Turtle eggs are one example of abundant natural treasures found at park. (Photo by Catherine Tabor)

The best part about Perry County Lakes Park is that it is free to all visitors. Varied ways to entertain oneself within the park’s limits include hiking, bird watching, swimming or geocaching. All of it is completely free of charge.

This YouTube video showcases the absolute beauty of the park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPFx3BOr6mk.

My summer in Marion was often hectic and stressful, so it was nice that I was able to discover such a relaxing and beautiful spot at Perry County Lakes Park where I was able to retreat to from time to time with family and friends.

Even though I was busy trying to figure out how to go about my Living Democracy projects, I was able to take a few hours to relax and enjoy myself. I was able to walk through the woods on a well-beaten trail and take in the fresh air. I was able to see the wonder of nature with my own eyes. The magnificence of trees that reach unbelievable heights and a section of the Cahaba River that I had virtually to myself were just some of the amazing things I was able to experience at Perry County Lakes Park.

Sometimes, people lose sight of what is important. In the race to the top, we forget the simple things. We are hungry for success, money, fame, and we miss the small moments that can really change us.

This past summer that I spent in Marion as part of Living Democracy was probably one of the slowest summers I have ever had. I was busy every day, and I was constantly on the go. But when I reflect on my time, it feels like I was spending every second looking forward to the next. I was anxious to get my projects done. I was nervous about not doing my job the way my supervisors expected me to do. I was ready to start fall semester classes so that I could begin the next chapter of my life and progress through my checklist of things I have to do in order to attain a high profile career.

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Slowing down can help you win the race, appreciate wonders of nature. (Photo by Catherine Tabor)

But just because I was trying to be fast about what I wanted to do, Marion wasn’t having any of it. The town is small, with a population numbering close to 4,000 people, give or take a few hundred. These people have lived there for generations. It is an hour from Tuscaloosa and roughly half an hour away from Selma. There is no Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.  People in Marion move at a slower pace than people do in bigger towns.  As funny as it sounds, I had to slow myself way down in order to catch up to their pace.

I was a fish out of water and I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. But the ten weeks I spent in Marion taught me that being the fastest isn’t always a guarantee of victory in a race. And eventually I was able to learn about Marion’s citizens and what they wanted or what they needed instead of trying to implement a project because it was what I knew, was familiar with, and wanted to do. I slowed down, and I was able to win my race.

And I learned that slow and steady wins the race when I was walking on the trails of Perry County Lakes Park, trying to reach Barton’s Beach and taking in the nature around me. It was beautiful. All of the trees and flowers were really amazing to see, and I know that they took their time to grow.

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