Wednesday, July 9, 2008

LAKES, BAYOUS, RIVERS…

Yesterday, after walking two miles and returning home drenched with perspiration, I should have been thinking about staying in my air-conditioned home for the rest of the day. However, the intense heat only encouraged my urge to see water again – a river, a lake, some body of water that smelled of fish and weed on whose surface the sun glinted and waves gently undulated.

So, we packed a picnic lunch and 40 minutes later, we were at Tim’s Ford State Park, first enjoying the shade in the public park, then exploring the boat ramp area where the sun beamed on a 10,700 acre lake. I didn’t smell fish but I was told they were there – bluegill, bass, catfish, and crappie – and I left my fly rod in Louisiana!

We stopped to ask a woman from Iowa about the lakeside cabin rentals as the park has 20 lakeside cabins with two bedrooms and living room opening onto a deck. The cabins sounded idyllic, but they were somewhat pricey. Trails abound in the park – wildflower trails, shoreline trails, over 12 miles of hiking and biking trails. The park even has a golf course, and a cave with genuine crawfish in it (crayfish, they call them)! Tim’s Ford is a lakeside paradise and received the “National Gold Medal Award, Best in the Nation” last year.

Somehow, I still yearned to see the waters of Louisiana, but I’ll return in late October when visits to bodies of water should be cooler jaunts. Louisiana is one of the few states with so many bodies of water, and bayous abound, twisting and curving throughout the countryside in Acadiana. Bayous are often bordered by palmetto and sedge, and the mysterious-looking waters are dark and muddy, unlike the clear streams, rivers, and lakes here in Tennessee. Bayou waters originate from other nearby sources, or rain, and move slowly, quietly; they almost stand still. To me, the murky, slow-moving bayous always suggest that we should slow down, enjoy the good life that we are offered. Bayou Teche, Bayou Lafourche, Bayou Sara, Bayou Goula – many of the bayous represent the places where the French and Spanish first settled in Louisiana and have an ambience of rich history.

Last year, while pining for water, I wrote the following poem:

HOMESICK

What do I tell you about The Mountain?
I feel enclosed, withdrawn,

not known to natural surroundings,
so harsh in its stoniness,

encroaching forests restricting,
oaks so tall they make shadows

on paint-splashed panes of bedroom,
hemlock prohibiting a cultivated lawn,

lichen overcoming infertile soil,
and, always, the incessant buzz,

insects resisting unnatural stillness.

Perhaps I loved the wetlands more than supposed,
forbidding swamps, lakes infested with alligator,

heron, bittern, and anhingua,
entered waterways giving me joy and mood.

Perhaps environment bears on the soul
more than transcendentalists foretold,

each morning, an affectionate nod
to beloved vegetation and wildlife,

rusty bayous, rising mists forecasting a day.

But I can no longer tell about the surround…
I have gone too far indoors.
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