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.

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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.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Right Question

Sunset over the river a few days ago.

For a very long time I have been thinking that, in a search for information, the question is more important than the answer. Without the right question, you have no possible chance of a right answer. This morning I was down at the river with my grandchild Elena, aged two. We were practicing taking river shrimp out of the traps and placing them carefully back into the water. This practice will not get your trotlines baited, but it sure is satisfying watching Elena reach in and handle the shrimp (which she called crawfish) without fear. The trap had five eels too, which we liberated unharmed. At a certain point I glanced over at Elena who seemed to be somewhat preoccupied for the moment and paying a little less attention to the shrimp. She was looking at the water flowing past the dock, carrying small bits of debris from north to south. Then I heard her say “Where river go?” in her small voice. It took me a moment to realize what she meant. I pointed to the water moving past us at a steady if unhurried pace and asked “Do you mean the water?”. She answered with “Yep”. Now, she had assessed that in the setting of the moment there was herself, me, the dock, shrimp, and water, and it was the water that was moving – not the dock. So, where river go, she wonders. It took me a moment to select an answer from the many possibilities. I just said “It goes very far away”, and that seemed to satisfy her. At least it satisfied her until the next answer becomes appropriate, the one that her increasing age will need.

Another big question, if not exactly a philosophical one – how do people come up with the collective names for animals grouped together. Like, a herd of cows, or, a covey of quail. Yesterday afternoon there was a “murder” of crows at the river, known as a “storytelling” by some. I guess to some people they can seem to be murderous when robbing nests for eggs or nestlings, and this group was loud enough to be storytelling about the day’s comings and goings before roosting for the night. Crows are interesting, probably because we identify with them in both their genteel and not so genteel habits.

The river is at 10.4 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, rising slightly to 11.2 feet by Monday. The Mississippi is rising a small amount but the Ohio isn’t, it is falling. This is a good example of how little the Missouri River influences the main Mississippi channel. With all the talk the last few days about the flooding on the Missouri, you would think we would be in for some high water down here. Not so, as long as the Ohio stays out of it.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Elena said...

good foto!!
ciao from italy

May 12, 2007 4:11 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Thanks Elena. Good name. Your blog has some nice stuff on it but I can't read Italian so I just appreciate the pictures. Thanks for the comment! Jim

May 13, 2007 1:06 PM  
Blogger Bud Forester said...

Wow, Jim, what a sunset!

May 13, 2007 10:06 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Yes, a combination of natural beauty and about a 2X magnification. You recent snake pics have been fun to look at too. Thanks Bud, Jim

May 14, 2007 7:31 PM  

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