Everyone thinks they grew up in a magical place. In my case, that was actually true. The very creation of Reelfoot Lake was magic. As a child, Reelfoot was “the lake” because to my family, there was no other. Having traveled far and wide in my life, to me, Reelfoot is still, “the lake.”
The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812, created Reelfoot. From a truly horrible event came a place of exquisite beauty, of refuge for so many of God’s creatures, of peaceful escape for humans and of magic in a child’s eyes. Since its creation, Reelfoot has been carefully watched over and guarded in a way that also seems magical. From sediment run off, algae growth, to Hollywood movie makers, evil land developers and more, each close call for Reelfoot resulted in greater protections. If the people and caretakers of Reelfoot appear a bit reserved, it is because they are. Had they not loved Reelfoot so deeply and watched over it so closely, it very well might not be here for us to marvel at today.
Blooming Lotus flowers on Reelfoot are an anticipated event every year. Yonkapins is what we always called them. I didn’t know they were a type of Lotus flower until adulthood. These beauties grace the inlets and shoreline of parts of Reelfoot ever year. I haven’t painted them yet but will soon!
Reelfoot is home to many species of birds. Bald eagles survived at Reelfoot when they were nearly wiped out in other parts of the country. They nest at Reelfoot in the winter. Reelfoot was once a habitat for whooping cranes, as well, until Hollywood came calling and dynamited their nests to get “the perfect shot” for a scene in the movie, “Raintree County” in the 1950’s. No movies were allowed to film for decades after that at Reelfoot. Not until “US Marshalls” as far as I know. No dynamiting was done for that film! Unfortunately, few if any whooping cranes have returned. Whooping crane populations everywhere are still very endangered.
Growing up at “the lake” taught me that there is magic in nature. It also taught me respect for the fragility of the beauty we see in nature. A visit to Reelfoot should be on every one’s bucket list. Please come with a reverence and respect for the local people, without whom Reelfoot would have been lost forever a long time ago. We owe them, and the generations before them, so much.
I’ll be teaching a Botanical Painting Workshop at Reelfoot in November at the beautiful Bluebank Resort. More details will be upcoming!
Find more on the Legend of Reelfoot here.
Find more on the Bald Eagles and other birds of Reelfoot here.