From the Bottom of My Heart

I have many blessings, many joys in my life. Too many to count.

But within the top five are you kind people. The people I know, the handshakes that have grown comfortably familiar; the people whose faces I recognize at once, the people I fish with, argue with, pour a sip with, and sometimes love.

Your response to the Louisiana Public Broadcasting documentary “Native Waters: A Chitimacha Recollection” was completely humbling and overwhelming.

As soon as it was over Tuesday night, all three phones in the house started ringing. The text messages and e-mails started well before the show was over. It all continued this week.

Thank you.

Thank you all so much.

The glory is only summarily mine; it is that of the Chitimacha people. Without tribal chairman John Darden and cultural director Kim and Khloe Walden, without Leroy Burgess and all the other faces you saw in the show, it would have been less full, less complete.

Make no mistake: The people I worked with on this are top-notch. Louisiana Public Broadcasting and its partners are irreplaceable assets to this state.

The many days I worked with Tika Laudun, Charles Richard and Rex Fortenberry will always bring . . . → Read More: From the Bottom of My Heart

A Moment

They say you forget your troubles on a trout stream, but that’s not quite it. What happens is that you begin to see where your troubles fit into the grand scheme of things, and suddenly they’re just not such a big deal anymore. – John Gierach

Well, it got to me.

Full well knowing better but eternally optimistic to a fault, I threw caution and good sense to the wind Sunday and headed north.

Yeah. I know.

Several things were nagging at me: One, I had no idea what condition the creeks might be in with no rain in nearly two weeks. While many are partially spring-fed, they also rely on rainfall to maintain good, clean flow. Also, I had no idea if the fish were even ready to take a fly, early as it is in the year.

I met up with my buddy Kevin in Lafayette and he drove us north. The fog was horrendous, but we made good time, arriving at the creek we had chosen for this outing at a reasonable time. Our other fishing bud, Scott, was already there.

Good news: The creek was running nice and clean and fast.

Bad news: The fish . . . → Read More: A Moment

Glorious Spring

Man, I love this time of year!

Though my pecan trees are not budding – the surest sign of all that winter is indeed over – my fig trees are setting out gorgeous emerald leaves, the oaks are also getting green.

It’s really kinda dry, we could use some rain. I’m not talking a gulley-washer, but a nice, slow soaking would be helpful. We have far too many fire ant mounds in the yard, though.

A few years ago, I planted trees on the west side of the house to try to get some shade in the future. That area used to be so thick with trees very little sun actually hit the old shack, but Hurricane Andrew took all of them out.

I planted two sycamores and four red oaks. The sycamores are growing like nobody’s business, but the red oaks have been disappointing. I’m going to give them one more season and if they don’t get with the program, they’re going to be firewood.

Of course, living where we do, I’m reluctant to put anything too close to the house, but I might put some dogwoods in for some quick, fast-growing shade and they don’t get more . . . → Read More: Glorious Spring

Dear Dad: You Were Right

Dear Dad:

I hate to interrupt you from what is surely some fine fishing there in the hereafter, but I just wanted to tell you something. Something important.

You were right.

The world, and everything in it, is a circle. Including you and I, it seems.

I remember a lot from those early years. Probably enough to surprise you. I remember marching by your side to the state capital, in my buckskin and feathers. I wore thick, black glasses and my close-cropped hair was entirely too light to be demanding Indian rights in Louisiana. Besides, I was only, what, five?

But I do remember it. We were marching with the Indian Angels group. I think the leader’s name was Sarah Peralto. We spent a lot of time with her in those early years at the little office in Baton Rouge. I also remember when we used to do the pow-wow trail, all over the southeast. You, Mom, my grandparents, we had a big tipi that we’d put up wherever there was a gathering of our cousins, and y’all would sell your wares but mostly commune with fellow Natives from so many different nations.

Funny story: When I was in . . . → Read More: Dear Dad: You Were Right

Mardi Blah

I think I was in ninth grade before I heard about Mardi Gras.

Didn’t know anything about it before then. My parents never mentioned it, and never went. Far as I know, it was unknown in my family entirely.

The whole thing mystified me when I went to Franklin Junior High School, and later, when I went to work for the Banner and covered my first parade, I thought the whole world had gone crazy.

Perhaps I would have a higher opinion of Mardi Gras if I hadn’t had to work every single one, practically, since 1980. In 22 years with the newspapers I have been employed by and eight years in radio, I was also either holding a camera or working behind a control board while John Landry and Rodger Robinson did remote broadcasts.

A few years ago, the Chitimacha Tribe started doing parades, and I was delighted to see the Indians throwing beads back at the white folks. And no, we do not want Manhattan back, we just wanted to throw the beads.

People sometimes ask me if I have ever been to New Orleans for Carnival. It’s hard for me not to pass out when they . . . → Read More: Mardi Blah

Far and Away

I know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly. (John Denver)

The cusp of spring is the toughest time of year.

It’s “almost there.” Not quite, just almost. The trees, some of them, are just starting to bud, but most remain skeletal. There are occasional dips in temperature, but none threatening. I hope winter’s over, but the Old Man is a sneaky old codger, and I wouldn’t put it past him to muster one last hoorah.

Fall is different. Autumn is the “almost there” to winter, so it’s a mad rush to get in all the things I want to get done before it gets cold, rather than waiting for things to “get right.” I do prefer spring over fall, but the in-between period is nerve-wracking.

I should probably just give up and give in to my predisposition just to babble on and on about the natural world, wildness and scarcity. But I know roughly half of you would disown me. Still, here at the precipice of spring, I can think of little else, and when I sit down here to write about oil prices, or the BP spill, or politics, what lurches out . . . → Read More: Far and Away

Passing a Good Weekend

What a gorgeous weekend.

I threw myself into it like a man dying of thirst who finds an oasis in the desert!

Saturday, I had a photo assignment late morning, but soon as it was done I pointed the ol’ pick’em’up truck toward Lafayette for the annual gathering of the Acadiana Fly Rodders Club.

Don’t worry, this is not a fly fishing column. This is only a brief interlude that you can surely sit through for a bit, hmmm?

It’s held at a church conference area and grounds on Roselawn Boulevard. Now, soon as I hit Johnston Street, the road was reduced to the two exterior lanes because they had set up barricades around the two center lanes in anticipation, I soon realized, of a Mardi Gras parade.

Now, for those of you who don’t know it. I despise cities. Hate ‘em with a purple passion, and the only thing I hate worse than cities is driving in one. Listen, I’m the boy who commences to cussin’ when it takes more than half a minute for me to get out at the intersection of Barrow Street and Northwest Boulevard, ya folla?

Now, here I am, heading downtown in Lafayette, . . . → Read More: Passing a Good Weekend