After two false starts, I finally made it to the creek.

And yes, ladies and germs, it is definitely creek season. Expect no respectable behavior from me hence forward. Though I may marginally fit in with polite company during the best of times, when it’s creek season I am as dastardly as a cartoon villain; I am distant as a seer, reliable as a roll of the dice.

My fishing partner for the day, Kevin, and I made it to the creek by 8:30 a.m. We were disheartened that it was very low, but flowing well and clear as gin.

Driving in, we saw a handful of deer and a wild boar. The air was 68 degrees, and the high Sunday was supposed to be 84 under overcast skies. I doubt it got that high. It was simply a perfect day. We strung up our rods and marched down to the creek.

I stepped off into the stream, and yeah, you’ve heard it ad nasueum already but it’s true. Everything went away. All of it. The deadlines, ringing phones, toils, troubles. All of it went downstream with fallen leaves already saturated . . . → Read More: Restoration

Get It Done

Rep. Sam Jones told the St. Mary Parish Council that they need to get someone on a plane to Washington, D.C. and demand that the barge that overturned in the Baldwin-Charenton Canal be removed.

Jones knows how it works. Many, many years ago, he threatened to handcuff himself to a desk in Cong. Billy Tauzin’s office if he didn’t get to see someone, anyone that would permit the Yokely Pumps construction. The city had been trying to get that permit for years.

Before he knew it, he was in the Pentagon, talking to the head of the Corps of Engineers and two minutes later, he had the permit. The Corps even put up 40 percent of the construction cost.

This whole debacle – which began the very same day as the BP oil spill – has been ridiculous. Between the federal bureaucracy, the constant delays and negotiations with the barge owner and the mysterious reluctance of anyone whose business is affected by the blockage on that canal to speak up to the press, it all takes on an air of some sort of badly written disaster movie.

While it’s true that the parish has no jurisdiction over that canal . . . → Read More: Get It Done

Tour du Teche

It was a remarkable weekend.

Tour du Teche, a 130-mile paddle race – canoes, pirogues and kayaks – was held starting Friday down Bayou Teche from Port Barre to Patterson.

This was the first time this race was held. Around here, in our little area, most people just didn’t get it. What’s the big deal?

It was a very big deal.

Organizers of the race expected 30 or so boats. They said they hoped the race would grow from there.

It did. Quick. They got 60 boats. Ninety-some-odd paddlers. Truly amazing.

They took off from Port Barre at 8 a.m. Friday morning. There were six checkpoints along the way and several rest areas. The boats had to check in at each station, and the volunteers at the station would call the tour command station to say that boat number whatever had passed. Franklin was a checkpoint.

The first boat passed through our checkpoint on the shift I was volunteering Friday. A six-man kayak made it to Franklin at 11:25 p.m. and won the overall race by finishing up at the Cajun Coast building in Patterson by about 2 a.m. Saturday.

Our checkpoint was full of onlookers Friday night who . . . → Read More: Tour du Teche

The People Who Stayed

I got a package in the mail Saturday that contained a book.

At first I was mystified. The enclosed book was a paperback entitled The People Who Stayed: Southeastern Indian Writing After Removal. It came from a professor at the University of Oklahoma. It took me a second or two to locate the enclosed letter thanking me for being a contributor.

It was probably about five years ago that Geary Hobson, UofO, contacted me asking permission to use some of my work for an anthology that would highlight the Native Americans of the Southeastern states who managed to stay rooted in the places they had been for millennia. I had actually forgotten about it, but there it was, my 2004 column entitled “Back End of the Canal” in which I lamented the loss not only of the lake and basin, but the thriving Chitimacha culture that once teemed on its shores:

Down there, at the end of that dark canal, seemed to be another world. A world of twilight, where the margins of the present and past, the dividers separating this world from the next and that which has come before, are feeble and thin. When this body of . . . → Read More: The People Who Stayed

‘Tis (Almost) The Season

Well, the hunters are getting themselves ready. They’re like kids at Christmas.

Teal season, dove season, squirrel season…I can smell the gun oil on my pals, and discern the bright eye of autumn in their pupils.

For me, it’s coming up on creek season.

Ah, autumn! The days are shorter, and the longer nights provide better dissipation of the heat in the water. The little spotted bass on the sandy, gravel-bottomed creeks are going to be coming up soon, leaving their cooler, deep pools and searching for lunch.

Creek season. I never knew there was such a thing until about five years ago. A bayou and swamp boy, I only knew of creeks from the movies, and had no real appreciation for them. Not until I first put my feet into one and realized that was what I had been missing all my life.

Creek fishing has turned me from a minor-to-moderate miscreant into a full-fledged, Grady A No 1 USA-inspected Reprobate. I admit it freely.

There is no ten-point program for my disorder. I am careless and preternaturally consumed by the thought of fall, cool air, cool water and creeks.

Harry Middleton asked his grandfather, Emerson, to teach . . . → Read More: ‘Tis (Almost) The Season

The Second Massacre of America’s Wolves

Just a few years after the Mayflower landed, the Massachusetts Bay Colony offered a bounty on wolves.

As North America was colonized, the European arrivals killed every wolf they laid eyes on, for pelts and as protection of their livestock against prey. The systematic annihilation of the buffalo forced the wolf to change its habits, and livestock were, of course, far easier prey than wild animals.

Here’s a stunning example of the horrific treatment of the wolf in America as late as the 20th century. Warning: The paragraph that follows is extremely graphic.

“On a Saturday afternoon in Texas…three men on horseback rode down a female red wolf and threw a lasso over her neck. When she gripped the rope with her teeth to keep the noose from closing, they dragged her around the prairie until they’d broken her teeth out. Then while two of them stretched the animal between their horses with ropes, the third man beat her to death with a pair of fence pliers. The wolf was taken around to a few bars in a pickup and finally thrown in a roadside ditch.”

Before and after that, the wolf was killed with strychnine-laced meat, shot, trapped, . . . → Read More: The Second Massacre of America’s Wolves

Fine Line

Something I’ve struggled with most of my adult life is the fine line between environmental responsibility and the good of mankind.

Those of you who have read this dribble for many years will recall that I tend to try to take a moderate approach to environmentalism. I try to position myself somewhere between the Greenpeace movement and the abusers of our natural resources.

It hasn’t been easy. When I look at what has happened to my beloved Atchafalaya Basin, my dear Lake Fausse Pointe and most of all Grand Avoille Cove, a part of me would gladly lie down in the path of a bulldozer to protest. But the other side of my brain understands that, after the flood of 1927, people’s lives and properties were at tremendous risk, and scientists and engineers did the best they could with the understanding they had of hydrologic systems at that time. If we had known then what we know now, we would have done something different, but I can’t blame them.

Similarly, I can support regulation assuring clean air, clean water, preservation of ecosystems, but there has to be a balance.

The longing that I wear on my sleeve in these . . . → Read More: Fine Line