Wish Me Rivers

God loves a man that smells of trout water and mountain meadows, cheap whiskey and branch water. Which way’s heaven? Follow the trail and keep close to the stream. – Arby Mulligan, Hymn No. 1 (the only hymn) of the Owl Creek Gap Church of Universal Harmony, in On The Spine of Time by Harry Middleton.

This year was among the finest I have lived as a fly fisherman.

I have struggled with my addiction now for six years. There is no support group for me, except sand and stone and clear, wild water running in the jagged ravines between low, smooth-browed hills. Thankfully I need no other.

Now, in the frigid grip of winter, I look back on the waning year with satisfaction. Very, very little of my angling this year was done in the swamps and bayous surrounding us. Nearly every fish I caught in 2010 came as punctuation to a sentence like Arby Mulligan’s, its nouns rooted in ancient earth and sandstone fractures, its verbs set into motion by sweeping winds through pines and wild azaleas, by plunging gradients that take water and turn it active rather than passive.

How I struggled those first few years! . . . → Read More: Wish Me Rivers

This City

It was with untold delight that I heard Raymond Harris announce Tuesday that the city will pounce on a Christmas decorating initiative beginning in 2011.

Bravo, bravo, and bravo again.

The Franklin Merchants Association has brought the status of holiday decorations upward by leaps and bounds over the last few years. Main Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard are looking better than I can ever remember. But the mayor, who said he visited Natchitoches recently during its famous Festival of Lights, left that fine city with a mission: We have what it takes, we just have to do it.

Between civic momentum such as the merchants and municipal government, we can and will do so much with this little town it’ll knock the socks off visitors.

The mayor makes an excellent point: There’s virtually nothing on the scale of Natchitoches in our area. From New Orleans to Lafayette on the U.S. 90 corridor, we are ideally positioned to attract visitors between both points and beyond.

With a commitment of funding and effort from the city, elaborate lighting on Teche Drive will also become a reality. That area is just ideally suited for such a display. While Natchitoches’ downtown is . . . → Read More: This City

Merry Christmas, Regardless

While I was reluctant to write about politics the last column before Christmas, I am infuriated.

Probably most maddening was last week’s determination by the president’s BP oil spill commission that lambasted the sand berms Louisiana built to try to stop oil from reaching out marshes and shores. The panel said only a meager amount of oil was captured, and the price tag was ridiculously high for the effectiveness.

They can blow it out their noses.

We sat here during the BP spill watching the federal government not only do nothing to stop the oil from reaching our mainland, but blocking all attempts we made to do it ourselves.

You had Coast Guard officials running around threatening to arrest parish leaders, infinite amounts of red tape to do so much as load a kid’s play sand bucket full and move it six inches, a complete fiasco.

Were the berms effective? That is circumstantial. As it happens, not enough oil actually reached that specific area, thank goodness.

To criticize Louisiana for trying to do something, anything to save ourselves from the crude invading our shores is just an example of the Obama administration taking shots at a Republican governor who’s . . . → Read More: Merry Christmas, Regardless


It was a week of departures.

Some complete, others in fraction.

First, port director Phil “Pudgy” Prejean attended his last meeting of the port commission this week.

Pudgy is retiring at the end of December after 13 years at the helm of our small but very successful port.

He’s only the second director the port has ever had. My pal Gary LaGrange was the first.

I came back to the Banner a year or so after Pudgy went to the port. Over the years, I’ve grown extremely fond of him. Even bought a boat from him once!

The port thrived under Pudge. He had a great working relationship with commissioners, and with the media.

Though he isn’t leaving the area, I’ll miss seeing him every month at the port meeting to talk about the fishing.

See ya around, Pudge.

Also this week, I said goodbye to Fr. Francis Daunt. I think any of us would be hard pressed to find a nicer guy. He and his wife Jane Bowles have been a great asset to this community in so many ways.

I’ll miss Francis’ great sense of humor and he always had a kind word for something I wrote . . . → Read More: Seasonals

The 12-Year Project

You should be proud of me.

Those of you who have read these wanderings for long enough will recall that every winter I complain bitterly that I failed to insulate the very, very old pipes in my very, very old house. You’ll also recall that I have suffered badly because of it when hard freezes bust them.

Every year, for 12 years now, I’ve said I am going to insulate my pipes. Every year, I go fishing instead.

I don’t know what came over me. Sunday I got up and went to get pipe insulation and got the job done!

It was not easy. The plumbing under my old shack has been added and subtracted over the decades. Things were moved, things were added, things were taken out, and the pipes just left in place in any case. The resulting jigsaw puzzle looks like something concocted by a lunatic.

I am lucky my grandfather raised the house in the 1930s. It was originally low to the ground, but he picked it up to a good two-and-a-half feet or more. I can sit underneath but it’s awkward at times due to the immense floor joists and of course wiggling my . . . → Read More: The 12-Year Project


Well, as the weekend approaches, I will be working with LPB again Saturday, putting in some of the final touches on the documentary we started working on in the spring.

Last year, I made reaquaintance with Tika Laudun, who you might remember was editor of The Franklin Post back in the 1980s, and also worked for the New Iberia paper. She’s now a senior producer with LPB, and we met again after nearly 30 years when the network sent me a DVD copy of a program she had created. I recognized her name immediately and made contact. Tika started reading some of the dribble I spout on these pages and my Web site, and determined she’d like to do a little doo-dad on some of the themes and issues I scribble about.

We did three or four days of filming in the spring, and will probably do another day or two before it’s done for possible presentation early next year.

After my 2005 brush with fame as a guest on two episodes of Fly Fishing America, one in Montana and one in Louisiana, I swore I’d never do such a silly thing again: getting on camera and trying to . . . → Read More: Legacy

Remember My Father

I abuse the privilege of this space and my position to once again ask this favor of you.

It will be 11 years ago this week that my father left this world to journey into the next. Many fathers have made that journey, and I don’t pretend my own dad was more important than any other. But he was my dad, and just once each year, I ask your tolerance and your favor.

I ask it, because my father was a champion of his people. A warrior of a different sort. Had his life not been so filled with toxins, it would not be unreasonable for him to still be here today, at age 85. The things he inhaled in his job, his sideline work, his smoking habit, all weakened his heart and his lungs but in the end, could not curb the valiance of his spirit.

He was not alone in his duties as a warrior. Forty years ago, five men united to create a constitution and by-laws for the tribe, securing the final bureaucracy of becoming a sovereign nation. They are all heroes.

In the years that followed, my father took on the call of the sacred . . . → Read More: Remember My Father

Even Better!

Spent most of the weekend recuperating. I’ve been sleeping better than I have in years, a deep, solid sleep uninterrupted for long hours. The medication helps.

With the low temps Friday and Saturday, I didn’t venture out much, except for a trip to the grocery store to get some grub which I didn’t really have an appetite for, and renew my medication stock. Sunday we went to see the new Harry Potter movie, which was quite good, but I exhausted myself pretty good. I managed to fall asleep on three other movies over the weekend, not that they were bad, I just couldn’t concentrate on them.

I still don’t have any energy whatsoever, and get fatigued pretty quick. But I’m getting a little better each day!

There’s not much humor in it all. I’m having trouble finding something to crack wise over. One of the movies I managed to fall asleep on that was nonetheless very good was Joe Kidd with Clint Eastwood. I saw if before, so I remember that it was a good western.

Here’s some observations from the flu ward which I made along the way:

Definitely get the Nyquil with alcohol. One does, the other . . . → Read More: Even Better!