Sunday, November 05, 2006

Quaking Bogs

I'm Kwachie, and Ev invited me to join her on her blog, so this is an introductory post of sorts.

To the right you will note a picture of Volo bog near Chicago, courtesy of Richard Seaman. It's the only official quaking bog in Illinois, and it bears a striking resemblance to one of our favorite places -- an area of Horseshoe Lake called "Wicker Dump."

Horseshoe Lake is as deceptive in its own way as the quakiest of bogs, covering (as it does) 1890 acres of Alexander County to an average depth of ... 2.5 feet. That's right, I said two and one half feet. But you'd never guess it's that shallow, since the water is roughly the color of strong coffee with a visibility of -- oh -- maybe a couple of inches.

Bordering the southern edge of the northern forests and the northern edge of the southern forests, we have an interesting mixture of flora, and Horseshoe Lake has been described as looking more like a Louisiana bayou than an Illinois lake. Bald cypress and tupelo trees, vast expanses of water lilies and prodigious amounts of duckweed make Horseshoe Lake a primary refuge for water fowl and migratory birds along the Mississippi River flyway. Not to mention it's a darn nice place to read and fish, and you can get a good greasy burger and a cold beer at Ouida's Bar and Grill next to the spillway.

So what do the Volo bog and Horseshoe Lake have to do with anything, and why is this post about quaking bogs anyway?? For one thing, after 50 years of living unhappily in the beige aridity of the Desert Southwest, I'm absolutely thrilled to live where places like these not only exist, but are sometimes found almost in my own backyard. For another thing, both Horseshoe Lake and yours truly may not look like they're from around here, but I'm glad we both are. I tell Ev all the time (although I'm still not sure she believes it) that moving to Southern Illinois doesn't feel like moving to be where she came from ... it feels like coming home myself.

But mostly I was remembering that way back when Ev and I were first dating she once compared me to a quaking bog. Having never heard of one, and having no idea what that might be, I wasn't sure it was a good thing, but she assured me it had to do with unseen depths and deceptive surface appearances -- and the more I thought about that, the better I liked the comparison. Now she says I ought to write about the things that go on under my particular surface. So here I am.


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