There are things about childhood that you relive in your dreams. Maybe it’s therapeutic for the mental issues we all have. For me, the long walks of my youth around the dikes of the camp where I grew up are a composite of long, friendly dreams. When I am so lucky to have one of these dreams, I invariably awake in a sort of time-daze, not sure if I am still between 3 and 16, or if the sad truth is that I am “grown up” and here in “normal” central Ohio.

Dikes are a result of man’s decision to make the Black Swamp of northwest Ohio into farmland. Consequently, the trees were leveled, the land was drained, and we all moved in with our civilization. Mother Nature, however, has other ideas. The land is the perfect clay-ey consistency to hold water, and during an especially rainy season even the large fortresses of land, dikes, cannot keep the floods at bay.

The marshlands are home to a wonderful patchwork of wildlife. I grew up with wood ducks, mallards, canvasbacks, Canada geese, whitetail deer, assorted warblers, and the chorus of bullfrogs as my companions. When the bird banders came in the spring, I helped them set up their nets and sometimes I even got to help them band the warblers that come through in a swarm of yellow, hurrying to their nesting grounds in northern Canada. My dad took me duck hunting a few times, and like any good daughter, I watched him skin at least a few hundred muskrats.

You can read the rest in this week’s column, Refuge of Sinners, at Today’s Catholic Woman.

Image credit: Marshland of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge by Harry Hunt on flickr