Archive for May, 2011
I’m really pleased to find so many of you interested in what’s going on inside the basin, and now I can give you a valid update. The Morganza Spillway was opened…about a quarter of it, determined by flow in the Mississippi. The Corps did it a little at a time to give people a chance to pack and move, as well as to povide wildlife time to react and get to higher ground…and they have, both the people and the drenched creatures in the swamp, my inarticulate friends.
For those of you who are so inclined, the water moccasins and alligators are fine, even though I’m not a big fan of either, but the deer, squirrels, racoons, and bears have had a rough time of it. I can’t help remembering a group of deer I saw on TV, swimming through the floodwaters with only noses and eyes above the roiling water and regrouping before bounding into dry forest. God, I hope most of them have done that. Deer react swiftly, but bears seem to take a while before deciding what they should do. A lot of them are swimming out of the floodwater and foraging in high ground perilously close to inhabited subdivisions.
Some are discovered high in trees, but many have been gorging on stuff in dumpsters and trash cans. The wildlife people are CONSTANTLY on the alert and capture those poor, confused black bears when they’re reported, moving them to safer, uninhabited territory, but I was distressed to learn they had also found a bear head and skin lying on the levee. Some bastard killed it and took the meat. Who the hell likes bear meat that much? The fact that he…or she…didn’t take the head and pelt only PROVES how uncaring and stupid the perpetrator was.
There has been ONE saving grace. This area has been in one of the severest droughts anyone has ever seen, and when the water surged in, the ground simply sucked a lot of it up, saving a lot of homes and cabins that would have been destroyed otherwise. And here I have to say a kind word about the Corps of Engineers. They were RIGHT about a lot of this, carefully balancing tremendous flow in the Mississippi while minimizing the damage and impact to areas they knew they were drowning.
The farmers in the basin have taken a TREMENDOUS hit. Their flooded fields won’t be productive for at least a year, and a lot of them didn’t have crop insurance. There are rumors swirling around that the feds are going to help them, but…you know…I’ll have to see it to believe it. Mostly, I consider it wishful thinking. We’ll see how it all plays out, but around here, corn, rice, and soybeans are going to cost a lot more.
Down here, we’re Cajuns…and we TAKE CARE of our own, even if they’re strangers NOBODY has ever seen before. This whole thing hasn’t been as violent and widespread as a hurricane, but the response has been very much the same. People are opening their homes to soggy, exhausted refugees, taking in their pets, and setting about planning a jambalaya, boiled crawfish, or a gumbo for them. It’s what we do; it’s who we are, and for my money, I wouldn’t even THINK about living anywhere else. Good people are rare, and by God, we got ‘em down here by the thousands!
Thank you, God, for sending us a test of our basic humanity. It has been a GENUINE pain in the ass…my word…You can strike me dead with thunder and lightning if You find it offensive, but it seems to me when You decide to test people, You give it Your best shot…and expect the same enthusiasm from us. Well, You did it, and we responded the best we could…like we always do. I hope You think we did well, and from my point of view, I believe we have. Now, it’s Your call. Goodnight, God; I’m done here.
I wonder what it’s like tonight in the basin for those who stayed behind. The weather is surprisingly mild…and clear, what would otherwise be considered a beautiful evening, but…then…we can’t hear the sound of rushing water here in Lafayette. Oh, yes, some people chose not to leave the basin; they don’t believe what the people on television are saying, but Cajuns are PRACTICAL. ALL of them have boats at the ready should their reasoning prove false…as I fear it will.
I wonder if there are fireflies out there in the shadows. I haven’t seen massed fireflies for years, but even if they don’t show, I know a lot of other wildlife will be swimming in, deer, bears, nutria, armadillos, rats, and most importantly SNAKES. In south Louisiana we always know the moccasins are out there somewhere, but they seem to know when we’ve been hit, when we’re most vulnerable. That’s when they always choose to come in. People still tell stories about rivers of snakes after Hurricane Audrey.
And they’re BAD, completely unafraid of man, horribly tempered, and stubbornly persistent, unbelievably so. I remember one time when I was fishing with dad. We had caught a lot of fish, and before we left for home, I noticed a cottonmouth circling our boat, leasurely, almost peacefully swimming around…but he had a plan. After a few minutes, he slowly raised himself up onto the transom of the boat and tried to slither in.
I hit him with a paddle and he fell back into the water, but after a minute or so, there he was again, a flat, spear-shaped black head and flashing forked tongue easing up right next to the motor. He knew he would probably be whacked with the paddle again, but he also knew we had the fish he craved and we were afraid of him. He was right on all counts, and after a second paddle strike, we engaged the engine and roared away. I think the thing I hate most about water moccasins is how silent they are, and how cunning…and deadly.
I remember a time my lady and I visited a Renaissance man inside the basin, an intelligent, well read, extremely well educated man, something of a naturalist and an artist in his own right, and this day we were there to pick out some naturally colored cypress for a sideboard we were hoping he would build for us. I was walking through an old barn looking at different stands of wood when he said, “PLEASE, don’t disturb that snake down there. She just had babies…and she’s my friend.”
Babies? His FRIEND? About two yards away, I saw a moccasin set in her s-shape ready to strike. Generally, cottonmouths don’t coil like rattlesnakes, though they can; they kind of lie in a curvy spring before striking, and they can fly six feet or so at you, white mouths open and needle-like fangs glistening. “BABE!” I answered, “RUN! This guy’s CRAZY!” He eventually sold me some beautiful wood and built the sideboard we wanted, but he brought it to US. There was no way I was EVER going to go back there and get it.
He found the whole episode hilarious, but I still check the newspapers regularly to see if and when he finally gets bitten by one of his little pets. Maybe he was right; maybe it was SOMEWHAT domesticated, but those creeping out of the rising water are going to be SAVAGE and implacable, pissed to the max…and that makes for a really dangerous moccasin. Oh, yes, they get pissed…and they’re a lot more accurate at aiming than any human being I’ve ever seen.
Another time I was fishing in the basin with buddies, one of whom had set up a trot line the evening before…a long, thick string hung with baited hooks every few feet. The guy was DYING to see how much he had caught, and in the morning he convinced me to help him run the line. We were about half way down it, him at the front of the boat and me paddling at the rear fighting water lilies when he suddenly yelled, “BACK UP!”
“Why?” I asked. In answer, he raised the line revealing a huge water moccasin thrashing violently, tethered to the fish he had eaten by the hook inside it. He threw the line a good six feet onto the water lilies while I tried to clear the engine enough to start it. That’s when I learned about angry water moccasins and the s-shaped curve. The snake, lying on the water lilies, assumed it and struck…repeatedly. We saw the open mouth flash toward us only to be restrained by the line anchored in its gut.
It struck at least a half-dozen times before I got the motor free, gunned it, and jumped about fifteen feet…just as the snake finally broke the line and spashed down behind us…EXACTLY where we had been sitting. Clear of the lilies, I opened up and headed for our home camp. “My trot line!” he yelled. “Go back and get my trot line!” “No way,” I answered. “That snake’s PISSED. If we go back it’s going to be waiting for us!” And it was; we eventually left the trot line for somebody else to retrieve.
I’m quite sure those people who stayed behind would tell you danger is like cayenne pepper in a gumbo…makes it more memorable; they’re Cajuns, but this PARTICULAR time I think they’re wrong. The water is going to rise and engulf them, and when the snakes start fighting them for dry land, it won’t be long before we see a flotilla of boats edging through drowned trees and brush to whatever landing they can find, leaving the forest primeval, as Longfellow described it…and NEVER more primeval than it will be in a week or so.
In time, the water will recede, but water moccasins like to set up shop whenever they find a place they like, somewhere protected, a little confined and small. Considering the number of them displaced, it’s going to be a year or longer before those trying to rebuild stop finding them beneath boards and logs, in low cabinets, under mattresses, inside smelly vehicles, and lying in wait at the water’s edge, and you can bet your last penny they’re going to FIGHT for the space they’ve claimed.
Water moccasins are like that…NASTY suckers, almost always angry and very territorial. I usually have a “live and let live” mentality, but when it comes to those snakes, I make an exception…hateful creatures.
Today my lady and I went into the basin to see it one last time before the innundation and found tremendous activity along the little highway to Henderson and the levee road. Cars filled with people crawled past us hauling trailers piled high with everything that wasn’t nailed down at their homes and camps, beds, mattresses, refrigerators, chairs, outboard motors, four-wheelers…you name it…all to higher ground. One guy was even taking his stove.
The Morganza spillway hadn’t been opened yet, but water lapped up against the levee at a much higher level than I remember…and when you could see Henderson Lake, the largest open expanse on the west side of the basin, boats coming in were fighting an incredibly strong current…also piled with rescued personal belongings. For those of you with map programs, it’s REALLY Lake Bigaux, but down here we call it Henderson Lake…you have to be here to understand.
We had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, McGee’s Landing, on the very EDGE of the basin and the WRONG side of the levee…fried crawfish, catfish bites, and shrimp, all served with magnificent Tartar Sauce, hush puppies and their famous “Gator Taters.” It’s an unashamedly Cajun place, usually overflowing with more tourists than locals…but the food is SPECTACULAR. With Morganza about to be opened, I took the precaution of calling them last night and found they planned to stay open as long as possible, certainly for the weekend…so we went, digital camera in hand.
Not a bad decision, really, because a lot of those people on the road were stopping there to eat before heading inland, allowing the food to be consumed by human beings instead of murky Mississippi water. At the cashier’s counter, I asked what they were planning to do. “Well,” she said, “they say the water’s going to be 29 feet here. That’s enough to go all the way up to the ceiling. We’re bringing in crews and plan to move as much as we can.”
I’m afraid the freezers and food lockers will take a hit; they’re much too heavy to move, but they’re going to make a Cajun stab at getting absolutely everything else to protected land on the other side of the levee. Actually, some of the unmovable stuff will probably survive; air-tight, they shouldn’t leak, but the compressors and fans will be ruined. I wished her luck, and she answered, “Pray for us.” I will…believe me I will. Looking north at a massive flood barelling in, I think they need prayers more than almost anybody I’ve ever seen.
The stoicism of these people amazes me. I haven’t heard one angry or bitter voice; they knew somewhere in the cards they might be dealt this particular hand, and just now they’re trying hard as they can to deal with what’s coming. When we left the table, the waitress said, “Y’all come back,” and the funny thing is SHE MEANT IT. She knows they’ll be back…probably even better, and she wants us to share in the wonders they’ll create. That’s the Cajun in her; we’re all like that, constantly hoping while dealing with the worst nature or government can throw their way. God, I’m proud to share their ancestry.
Before we left, I bought a t-shirt, a nice red one loose enough to play disc golf in. I liked it…collecting t-shirts is kind of a hobby of mine. It says, “I was SWAMPED at McGee’s Landing,” and I bet people normally get a big kick out of that t-shirt. It’s funny, but today, looking at the frenzied activity and the desperation on people’s faces, the irony of it all trumps any humor you could hope for. It’s going to be a long time before anybody laughs inside the basin on the wrong side of the levee.
Just when I begin to worry about ideas for this blog, the evening news rescues me. Right now, it’s all about the impending flood, and even though my last entry was about it, I discovered I had more to say.
The spillways along the Mississippi give me problems, not so much the Bonnet Carre; it diverts water through Lake Ponchatrain, but the Morganza Floodway represents a CHOICE. Do we allow Baton Rouge and New Orleans to flood, or do we flood out the people in Stevensville, Krotz Springs, Melville, and hundreds, maybe thousands, along the way to Morgan City?
Of course, they make the NUMERICAL decision, flood out the smallest number you can. Statistically, that makes sense, but I wonder if those people ever think about the lives they’re ruining, plunging everything some people have, all they’ve worked for into toxic filth and ooze. The Army Corps of Engineers has the RIGHT to do this. As I said before, they constantly reminded people they were building in a floodway, and I’ve since learned they even PAID some for the right to flood them if conditions warranted.
And they’re not infallible. Think about the MRGO canal in New Orleans. The locals call it “Mister Go”, but it really stands for the Mississippi Riger Gulf Outlet, a massive canal connecting the river DIRECTLY to the gulf. It was a major player in the flooding after Katrina…when the outlet became an INLET welcoming a massive storm surge and overwhelming the levees. If you ask me, a lot of those canals have been big mistakes, shunting water into the gulf, allowing wetlands to wither and die or erode away.
As with any delta, the river originally broke into dozens of smaller streams when it neared the gulf, kind of meandered its way to the salt water, and in the process continually built new land, but when industry and engineers gave it an express lane, all that went away and the wetlands began to shrink. Notice a pattern here? It took millenia for the great river to produce what became south Louisiana…and less than a century for slide rules and calculators to start undoing it.
The river has been trying to change course for a long time…divert into the Atchafalaya. The gradient is more favorable, and it’s a straighter shot, but that would mean what is now the Mississippi below that junction would become a VERY small river, maybe even a large bayou. Rivers flow ONE way, but bayous are tidal and flow both ways, always busy but not really getting anywhere. The flow in a bayou is gentle, allowing the growth of luxuriant plants and beauty, but they silt up fairly easily and often become little more than a trickle.
Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and “cancer alley”, the string of oil refineries and industry between them have always relied heavily on having a large, navigable river flowing past, and if it suddenly stopped, the FINANCIAL losses would be astronomical. That’s why those spillways were built in the first place, why engineers are willing to sacrifice rural property rather than urban. They didn’t really think about it until 1927…when all hell broke loose. In those days they had to DYNAMITE levees strategically, drowning some areas to protect others.
These days it’s not as messy…or as obvious. They look a little like levees…except they’re perfectly straight and have banks of little doors, more than a hundred, actually. The doors aren’t really little, but from a distance they seem so compared to the gigantic spillway structure. Unlike 1927, things are quiet there. A crane hoists the doors open and water begins to pour out, no boom, nothing flying through the air, just a kind of muddy waterfall. It’s actually very pretty, and people tend to gather on the levee to watch and photograph it.
They’re at one end, but on the other, parents are desperately loading a trailer with as much as they can while their children help. The lucky ones have friends or family who will take them in, but the rest will have to sit it out in shelters, probably for months before returning to disgusting filth to try and re-create some semblance of the life they had. And these are not rich people; most of them couldn’t have afforded flood insurance even if they wanted it.
I keep remembering all those cartoons, you know, where a character standing next to a dike notices a leak and covers it up. Soon another one pops up and he covers that too, only to find more and more leaks until he runs out of digits and uses his nose…but they keep on coming. I see it as a metaphor for modern life. Trying to control the forces of nature isn’t easy…nor simple, apparently. We keep doing it, but like I said, more and more problems pop up, and more and more painful decisions have to be made.
This may be a little tangential, but I also remember reading about the Pilgrims who landed in New England. They were amazed to find no brush in the forests, only open spaces where normally brambles and bushes would grow. They took it as a sign; God had prepared a perfect garden for them. In time…after they drove the Native Americans away, they noticed the forests choking up and realized it wasn’t God but the Indians who had kept the forests so neat.
I admire them, Native Americans, because they tried to live WITH nature instead of AGAINST it, something we’ve never learned or chosen to emulate. Maybe it’s my Apache blood talking, but I know they had the right idea, gleaning instead of destroying, basing their decision-making on what they observed in nature. They didn’t exploit the land; they took care of it…and succeeded for thousands of years. I wonder how long it’s going to take the slide rules and calculators to figure that out. My bet is on NEVER.
Tonight, the news is filled with stories of people being driven from areas sure to flood when the Army Corps of Engineers opens the Morganza Spillway, designed to protect Baton Rouge and New Orleans, flooding mostly uninhabited land…a true devil’s bargin. You see, the great Mississippi River has been trying for centuries to divert through the Atchafalaya, where the gradient to the sea is far more promising, but that would have left the two largest cities in our state high and dry.
Without the mile-wide river embracing them, both cities KNEW they would wither and transform, Baton Rouge to a charming capital city, and New Orleans to a tourist mecca, and neither of them wanted to lose their prominence. Of course, New Orleans has already lost it…after Katrina, but Baton Rouge…Baton Rouge, the center of power? There’s NO WAY they’d even consider it…hence the spillways…begun in the nineteen-thirties.
When politicians set all this up, the spillways opened into undeveloped land, marshland, swamps, Lake Ponchatrain, and the great Atchafalaya Basin…no harm done if they were flooded out, but since then, people have discovered the beauty and essential value of those once derided places, filtered in, and built lives for themselves. When they moved there, they were told they were building in a floodway; actually, they’re reminded EVERY YEAR by letter, but it had never been used…so why not?
Now it’s gonna be USED…and our local TV stations are endlessly showing distraught homeowners saying, “It’s my HOUSE, my life…everything I own! How can they do this to me?” They CAN, Guys; they warned you when you chose to move there…and have done so since…yearly, as required by law. You gambled and won for a lot of years, but this year you lost.
The funny thing is not many of those people have FLOOD insurance. It’s pretty expensive, and I’m sure they don’t make enough as trappers, or fishermen, or loggers, or artists to pay for it. Personally, I’d have worked like hell to pay for my flood insurance…or built my house WAY HIGH on pilings…or set up a houseboat. I’m like that…I NEVER trust politicians. They’ll screw you when it’s inconvenient not to.
I see all this as trying to buck history…geologic history when people decided to keep things the way they were when the Mississippi desperately wanted to go through the Atchafalaya to the gulf, and human history when they thought NOBODY would ever want to live in those places. You may think it was the stupidity of thirties politicians, but I disagree. None of them, then or now, have EVER understood history of any sort. They’re politicians, dim bulbs, and history is COMPLICATED.
Complexity is beyond them; otherwise, they’d understand two essential things. It takes all kinds to make the world work, and you can’t win when it comes to Mother Nature. Sound familiar? I’ve said it before. She’s a BITCH, but she’s an unbelievably POWERFUL bitch. Nobody but God is more powerful…and He seems to think we should learn to deal with her on our own. It’s so like Him; He wants us to learn and grow, even if it’s painful from time to time. He’ll watch us and protect us, but He expects us to deal with our problems…never moreso than when we create them for ourselves.
In the old days, flooding was actually helpful, renewing the land, enlarging the wetlands, and protecting the state from hurricanes by putting distance between us and them…just a lot of muddy water, but nowadays it’s a dangerous, poisonous brew of coliform organisms, feces, chemicals, and trash. Only the snakes seem to have adapted to it, and there are a lot of those in south Louisiana. Cleaning up when the water finally recedes is going to be a monumental problem, but I’ll bet those homeowners give it a shot.
They gambled and lost…but not forever. They’ll be back, and next time, I hope far wiser, understanding EXACTLY how precarious life can be in a floodplain. Of course, the rest of us will help them as much as we possibly can…while Baton Rouge and New Orleans breathe a sigh of relief, fat and happy, contratulating themselves while myriads of soggy families slog through muck and stench trying to rebuild. My question is, “Do they REALIZE how much heartache their salvation has caused…and how WORTHY are they of such preferential treatment?”
When you don’t walk with the natural world, you have to work REALLY hard to stay in place. I say let things go the way they want to…then work from there. I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be better. Hear that, Corps of Engineers? You can’t beat Mother Nature…or God…who seems to respect her…even though we don’t.
Readers wishing to email me instead of commenting may use the email form in the CONTACT section. Several commenters have mentioned they weren’t sure out how to do it. I promise to read the emails and respond appropriately…hope this helps. AC
I guess it won’t be long before some people start saying Bin Laden isn’t really dead; actually, I heard it yesterday at the supermarket. There are ALWAYS people saying things like that, some because it suits their purposes, some because they’re overwhelmed by such events, particularly in the glare of a hysterical 24-7 world-wide news cycle, but others because to them EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. Those are the guys I’m interested in, people for whom all history is nothing but confusing darkness and lies…the doubters.
You know…it could be a form of madness. My grandfather taught me a valuable lesson one calm spring day. He raised pheasants…no, not only raised them, he LOVED them. He savored their beauty almost as much as their taste when roasted perfectly. They were his treasure, and one day when I was helping him feed his charges, he suddenly said, “Boy, I’m gonna teach you a lesson.”
Grandpa always called me boy; I have serious doubts he even KNEW my actual name, but this day he was intent on showing me something special…just between him and me. Without the slightest warning, he picked up a two-by-four and slammed it hard against the corrugated tin wall of the cage several times. Of course the birds went completely ya-ha, flying blindly, crashing into one another, even flattening themselves on the chicken-wire covering the open parts of the cage.
Mouth agape and stunned, I watched the chaos he had created. “Boy, remember what you just saw because PEOPLE are just like those pheasants. When they feel trapped and powerless…and something unexpected happens or is discovered, they go completely nuts. Like those birds, they don’t accomplish much, but they make a hell of a racket in the process. Learn to ignore the noise around you when big things are going on, and if you have trouble doing it, just remember what you saw here today.”
Like I could EVER forget! Grandpa was always serene, devout, and loving, but that day I discovered he was also wise…in an unorthodox way…and I’ve NEVER forgotten those poor terrified birds. They come to mind these days; I think he was actually talking about the people I’ve categorized as doubters. They’re a lot like the pheasants, trapped, powerless, vulnerable, assaulted from every angle by terrifying developments, and making the hellacious racket he talked about.
Grandpa NEVER did anything by half. I had a hamster that was always escaping and one day I told him about it. About a week later he brought me a cage he had built to solve my problem…painted bright green. Everything he gave me was always painted bright green for some reason. Anyway, the cage he built could safely contain a cobra…built like a fortress with the heaviest-gauge wire screening I’ve ever seen. I actually felt sorry for my poor little hamster and let him run free from time to time…because he sure as hell wasn’t going to get out on his own.
Grandpa was like that, grounded…and tempered by what he had seen in life. He knew what he believed and trusted his innate intelligence and accumulated experience…while ignoring what he considered meaningless ambient chatter, but while I learned a lot from him, when it comes to those doubters I’m not REALLY like Grandpa. I worry about those pheasant-humans, feel sorry for them, actually…like I did for those birds that day.
I consider skepticism healthy, but CONSUMING skepticism pointless. Like Grandpa, I’ve picked out the things I believe in as a base, my foundation, and as a result, my life has been richer and grander, instead of astonishingly small. I might be wrong some of the time, but at least I’m a PARTICIPANT instead of a carping, shadowy, echo. I use science’s mantra. Develop a hypothesis, test it, and if it proves right, keep going. If it proves wrong…or silly…FORGET it and move on to something else.
Grandpa wasn’t a scientist, but he knew all this, bless him. He knew it’s not easy to be a human being, and he wanted his grandson to recognize the slamming two-by-four when he encountered it…and provided an indelible reminder. Of course, his lesson stuck and has helped me through some really dicey times in my life. With his guidance ringing in my head, I’ve never become a pheasant, though I’ve seen a lot of them crashing around…especially lately.
Thank you, Grandpa. I still miss you and your completely off-the-wall observations, and when I grew up, I came to see the wisdom behind them. Goodnight; sleep well. I sincerely hope you liked this.
When you live in south Louisiana these days, you find less charm in spring. You go through the motions, planting gardens and flower beds and enjoying the warm days and cool nights, but too many things remind you. Hurricane season is around the corner, and almost automatically, you begin checking out your supply of batteries, your water jerrycans, and your supplies, most particularly the fuel container and oil for the generator.
I know a lot of you are STILL not convinced, but after Katrina, Rita, and the horror we tried so hard to avoid in Alexandria, I AM! With global temperature slowly creeping up, I can’t help remembering what all the experts have predicted. Sure, warmer days and nights, but the weather…the WEATHER…is expected to become much more unpredictable and severe…and to us down here, it means more of those horrific storms.
Not to those north of us…I’m confident they watch the weather news with concern and empathy when we’re in the crosshairs, but they’re in global warming’s crosshairs, too. What the hell do you think those tornadoes are all about…so many and so strong? Consistent, erratic, and increasingly severe weather…that’s what they said, and deep in my bones I just can’t help thinking it has begun. I think Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas would tend to agree.
Things are changing in such peculiar ways. I keep thinking about Manon Lescault, a beautiful Italian opera. In the last act, Manon and Des Grieux are lost “near New Orleans”. Des Grieux sings, “WATER, we must find water!” Whenever that plays in New Orleans, it never fails to produce an audience-wide laugh. New Orleans is SURROUNDED by water. More likely, they’d have drowned before dying of thirst.
The story is Puccini drew a line on a map between New Orleans and his part of the world, found it about on the level of the great Sahara Desert, and quite naturally decided we were a desert area, too…hence that line in the opera…but these days I’m beginning to think he was ahead of his time. Things are getting really strange here…in the WORST drought we have ever seen. There was a beautiful fire ring outside the cabin we rented at Toledo Bend, but we couldn’t use it. The danger of wildfires was just too great.
When we hiked in the woods, everything we stepped on was dry and crackly…waiting for a random spark to produce an inferno. Of course, we were cautious, but Mother Nature makes LIGHTNING…and that starts fires, too. My lady and I began to play a sort of game as we drove along. Some lawns were brown and dusty, others luxuriant and green…and usually had lawn sprinklers going full blast.
I had the brown ones and she the green…and I WON! Neither of us said the words…we didn’t have to. This part of the world is trying to become the desert Puccini was so certain of. Of course, deserts don’t appear all of a sudden. I’m sure people on the edge of the Sahara worked like hell, watering their crops…and their lawns…before they finally gave up, bought a camel and tents, and decided they couldn’t win.
Right now our water deficits are so huge even a half-dozen hurricanes couldn’t correct it. My lady has ALWAYS wanted to turn our lush, green front yard with all its trees, bushes, and plants into a rock garden with cactus, sand, and lizards. She’s from Texas; she likes that kind of thing, but I’m from Louisiana. I like watery things like slow-moving bayous and the sound of thunder with lines of black, pregnant clouds crowding the horizon. I can’t help it; I’m Cajun.
She’s gonna miss it, too…in Louisiana much too long even though she doesn’t completely realize it yet. She fell in love with our bayous, our exuberant waterlines, our swamps, our trees, our garden-fresh vegetables, our GREEN things a long time ago. She’s hooked, but I wonder how she’ll deal with dry, stiff, brown things all the time…and sand…and watching stuff she’s learned to love slowly wither.
To me, lately It feels like Puccini was right, and Mother Nature is hell-bent on making us a desert. Okay…I’m a Cajun but also a realist…like the rest of us; over the years, we’ve collectively learned that much, at least. After all we’ve been through, we’ve learned to adapt pretty well, and it feels like it’s about time to now. So? Anybody know where I can buy a camel? I can always swap ‘em a bass boat if they want to haggle, but surely, camels can’t be THAT expensive.