In 1851, the American songwriter Stephen C. Foster sang of the Okefenokee’s Suwannee River as “home” in the song, Old Folks at Home. And over 150 years later, my daughter and I are calling the Stephen C. Foster State Park our home-away-from-home! After a full day in the hot sun, and after toiling across Billy’s Lake against the wind, we finally arrived back at the campground. Biased by our dry and parched lips, we ate “the best ice cream sandwiches we’ve ever tasted” at the registration office and headed back to our tent to shelter from an approaching evening thunderstorm.
When the rain ceased, we enjoyed a can of clam chowder (everything tastes better when you’re camping) and went for another walk to avoid the mosquitoes that inevitably attack when you sit still for even a moment. We braved the gnats on the boardwalk; sat with “Sophie” the resident alligator a few minutes, spotted a snake at the boat ramp, and smiled at the deer that casually fed around the cabins. We ended the night in our tent, continuing our battleship tournament before turning in on this slightly more warm and humid night. Like Stephen C Foster’s old folks, this is “home sweet home”!
Way down upon the Suwannee River,
Far, far away,
There’s where my heart is turning ever,
There’s where the old folks stay.
All up and down the whole creation,
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for my childhood station,
And for the old folks at home.