This blog originates on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, in Louisiana. It proposes to share the things that happen on and by the river as the seasons progress. As the river changes from quiet, warm, slow flow to rises of eighteen feet or more, there are changes in the lives of the birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles that use the river. And the mood of the river changes with the seasons. I propose to note and comment on these things.

My Photo
Location: Butte La Rose, Louisiana, United States

I transitioned a few years ago from a career as a water-pollution control biologist. I want to do this blog to stay in touch with a world outside my everyday surroundings, whatever they may be. I like open-minded company and the discussion of ideas. Photo by Brad Moon.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cat Eyes

Alcibiades would howl at the sunrise if he could.

The river is rising and they say all things come to one who waits by the river. Right now a lot of debris is floating by generated by the heavy rains a couple days ago. A wide variety of stuff is coming by, including pieces of lumber ranging from 15-foot creosoted 3x12s to very old cypress 2x4s. I pull them up on the raft when I can catch them, but I don’t know what I’ll do with them. I just can’t resist hoarding wood.

Another thing floating by this morning was the visible remains of rabbits harvested in the Basin and for the first time in quite a while – woodcock. The wings and heads of the birds were caught in the debris lodged against the dock, as well as brown fur from the rabbits. Somebody will eat good soon with this wonderful game. I have never eaten woodcock but I’ll bet they are really good, eating all those worms like they do. My outboard motor repair guy has a big open shop in Henderson, and he has a big homemade iron stove in it. On cold days, he and his friends cook rabbit and venison dishes on the wood stove while they work on motors. You talk about smell good! There is something primal about the mixture of the evidence of hard work and the smell of smothering rabbit on a wood stove! He and his friends are luckier than they know, or maybe they do know. Could be.

Have you ever noticed that a dog will look you in the eye, but a cat won’t? Dogs just kind of communicate with that intimate eye-to-eye contact that tells you that here is an animal that is truly interested in you as a person. They just have that “gaze into your eyes” form of relating to humans. This is really kind of interesting since that behavior in almost all other mammals signals a challenge – look into the eyes and get ready to fight. But with dogs, not so, unless you are another dog. But cats, what about them? They almost never look into your eyes. They offer their backs to pet, and rub against you, but keep their eyes averted – not submissively, but more dismissively. What a surprise, then, today when Napoleon jumped up on my lap to pay for his room and board by allowing me to pet him, and looked up into my eyes. I was captivated by the cat’s eyes looking absolutely into my eyes. And I thought, well, here is one of those rare opportunities to experience cat-to-human bonding on a heretofore unknown level, at least by me. So I returned his gaze for several seconds, enjoying the moment. And then he leaped into my face. He made a couple fast bats at my eyes with his paws, and then resumed the staring up at me. He had no interest in bonding with this human or any other, he was just interested in those things that kept flitting up and down right in front of him – my eyelids. It was fortunate that I wear glasses. With cats, you think you figure something out, and they quickly let you know that you aren’t even on the same wavelength. Hmph.

The moon on the water is something I can’t resist. One thinks of both of these things as female, somehow, water and the moon. The water is soft, it can be cold or warm, it carries an unseen force and can provide a life for you, or take it away if you’re careless and ignore its warnings. And the moon, it has always been female to humans, governing female reproductive cycles, the tides and other important female-associated things. And its reflection on the water seems to bind the two ideas, water and the moon.

The river is at 8.5 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising to 11.5 feet by Thursday. It will fall a little after that, but the Ohio and Mississippi are rising again in their upper watersheds and that means we may be starting the high-water season pretty early, after not having one last year.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger jay ach said...

Ah, that is why i love cats. Thank you for your posting and site. A friend, Marilyn K, referred me here. i worked in Baton Rouge and Houston. Many drive on ten through the Basin. Hope on my next visit i can paddle there. Thank you for creating and posting to your site.i am enjoying reading previous posts. Best to you. Warm regards,
john h.
Santa Rosa, CA

January 04, 2007 12:24 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Hello John h. Boy, the network spreads doesn't it? First Marylin, now you. Who's next? Thanks for the kind words about Riverlogue. Come visit next time you are near here, you can start your paddle from our dock.

January 04, 2007 8:55 PM  

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