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.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Rainy Afternoon

We haven’t had too many of those nice, slow, lazy, rainy afternoons lately. Last week we did have one of them, and the things that need a drink from time to time seemed to smile in the wetness all afternoon. It was one of those times when you can smell the wet in the air, and mixed with the leaves and the dust and the shingles on the roof. Once I would have liked to have gone out and walked in the soft rain and felt it, now I am content to watch it from the screen porch – a sign of age? Or maybe something else not easily admitted.

One of the great things about that afternoon was the sunset it produced. There are always clouds after that kind of rain, and mixed with a lowering sun, some never-to-be repeated patterns form in the sky and then close into darkness like the end of a really good book. Such a time was that afternoon.

But before the light faded there was another something to see, a rainbow across the river. One more time I was reminded of why I always keep a Canon in my pocket when I walk outside. Because not only was there a rainbow, but there were two of them, and not only in the sky but one of them was reflected on the mirror surface of the river. Oddly enough, the one in the water made the better image.

I turned back towards the house, thinking of the various ways light can be impressive – in sunsets and in water vapor prisms in the sky, and bouncing off of calm water. A few fish crows flew overhead, slowly moving in the direction of the river behind me, and their nasal cries were loud and drew attention. More of them came and joined the first ones in that open-ended carefree dance that crows do in flocks. Turning back toward the river I could see more and more of the crows coming together in one long, strung out group and I realized they were heading toward the rainbow – you could still see it across the river. All this time there is this loud and continuous calling. I counted 139, and on they went toward the rainbow, and then they got to it, and they stopped forward motion and began to circle the rainbow. I almost forgot to try for a picture, but not quite. On they went, round and round the rainbow, calling and many of them doing things in flight that comes so close to what we would call playing that I would not know what else to call it. Sometimes they would tumble in pairs, flipping over with exaggerated wingbeats to recover what might have been a sense of dignity. Sometimes four or five would do this in a kind of ball of crows. Surely, I thought, this is coincidence, their being there mixed in with the rainbow for so long a time. They would leave the rainbow for a little while and sit in trees, and then fly back to it and through it to the other side and sit in trees there. Surely it was coincidence. Surely.

My friend was found below Morgan City in the Atchafalaya River main channel, about 25 miles downstream from where he drowned three weeks ago. A tugboat found him. There were no reported signs of violence. It is better that he was found, if for no other reason than the closure it provides for his family and friends. Some might say the cycle of his life on Earth is now complete.

The river is at 11.3 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, and it will stay about there for the next several days. For the time being that is enough water for crawfishermen to make a living in the Basin. The Mississippi and Ohio are both falling up above so they will not support this level of water for long.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Bud Forester said...

Wow, Jim, great pictures!
I've been watching for news; glad they finally found him.

April 11, 2007 12:13 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Thank you, Bud. And yes, I'm glad they found him too.


April 11, 2007 8:49 PM  

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