Well. Anybody got an Ark?
You know, the old adage goes, the Titanic was built by professionals…the Ark by amateurs.
Regardless, I was worrying about my ability to procure gopherwood last week and again last night as the sky fell out and, lo! There was an ocean on the other side of it that fell on us. I also got to worrying about all that cubit measurement stuff. It’s supposed to be the measurement of a person’s forearm, but how accurate is that? My forearm and Shaq’s are not the same and would result in a considerably different Ark, don’t you know?
Man, what a rain. I kid you not, last week when it did that, my dog’s food bowl, full, floated from it’s place right under the edge of the house actually floated across the back yard! It stopped, thank goodness, because the back gate was closed. If it hadn’t been closed, I’m quite sure the poor dear’s food would have floated to Bayou Teche and, by now, would have been found by giant tortoises in Galapagos, severely messing up the natural ecosystem balance over there because giant tortoises are not meant to eat Purina lamb and rice skin and coat formula, mainly owing to the fact that giant tortoises have no coats. I’m not sure what Purina will do for a tortoise’ shell, though.
The first rain, last week, was terrible. The water got so high in the front yard it flowed under the house and I had to get the dog and put her in the shop for safety and dryness’ sake, but then the water actually came up through the front door of the shop. Thankfully, it made a beeline to the back door, a straight shot, and didn’t do any damage, though the dog had an interesting time watching the impromptu river flow through my workshop.
In fact, when I got home yesterday, I immediately went to the yard to get her, knowing the deluge was coming, and the minute I opened the gate she rushed through, bolted to the open shop door and by the time I got there was nestled comfy on her old blanket I had thrown down for her. She looked at me like, "Thanks! Things was getting serious out there!"
Patches, you’ll recall, is my calico kitty. She’s actually what they call a tortoise-shell calico because there’s no white in her color scheme. She does not, however, come from Galapagos, and does not eat Purina lamb and rice skin and coat formula. She eats Kits and Kaboodles, and nothing else. Will turn her nose up at tuna fish. All she wants is Kits and Kaboodles.
She does not like bad weather, and spends either the entire storm with claws dug into my leg in terror, or hiding under the sofa. She also passes by the door of the shop now and then, sticks her nose in the air and then arches her back, raises her hackles, hisses, and flees up the stairs, having obviously detected the dog scent just on the other side of the door.
I wonder, sometimes, if I did have an Ark and was forced to use it, which of the three of us would survive? My money’s on Patches, just because she’s got the force of sheer lunacy behind her.
So the rain comes again last night and I have to go to a special city council meeting, and I’m cussin’ up a storm – pardon the pun – all the way from the Rez to Franklin and back again. I am also wondering why, in the long 8,000 year history of my people here, we never conceived of anything like an "anti-rain dance." Might have come in quite useful at times like this.
On my way home, I hear of tornadoes in Iberia Parish and deaths associated with them. It puts me in a more serious mood, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of such a tragedy.
I settle in on the sofa, listening to the rain. At first I’m watching the tube, but then I turn it off. I hear the dog shuffling, restless in the shop, but soon she settles down as well for the night. Patches, venturing bravely out of her hiding place, curls up next to me there on the couch. The rain is composing sonnets on the metal roof and the house, creaky and cranky, is adding a rhythm track of pops and groans. I think of the old timers, and how they used the branches from the Raintree which grew near Loreauville on Bayou Portage until 1927. My great grandmother, Delphine, was the last Chitimacha to use the Raintree, to bring rain in time of drought, by breaking off a branch and soaking it in water. The tree fell into Bayou Portage in 1927, and the rains began and didn’t stop for many months. It’s always been whispered among us that the collapse of the Raintree into that waterway caused the great floods that year, but who really knows?
I do. In my heart, I know.
There are three limbs from the Raintree in my living room. They were brought to my grandparents just after it fell, with a photo of the tree taken by a photographer from Lafayette who knew the story of its power. In the picture, it is a deadfall into Bayou Portage, and the drizzle has started. But the photographer, whose name has been forgotten if we ever knew it at all, made the print and brought it all the way from Lafayette to the Rez to give it to my grandparents. He had never been here before, knew no one here, but when he made the print, he was stunned by it. Stunned enough, he said, that he went back and got the limbs from the tree, drove to Charenton and found my grandfather, who was Chief at the time. The limbs are in a cypress, glassed case I built for them and the photograph is in a frame.
If you turn the picture sideways…is it a trick of the light? An illusion of the rippling water in the sky? Who really knows?
I know. In my heart I know that I can see them, four or five of them, dancing. Dancing around the Raintree. Their spirits may still dance there, on some forgotten spot on Bayou Portage, though the Raintree is gone 80 years now, some trickle of power may still resonate in the ground.
I know. I know it in my heart.