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.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Simple Lesson

Sometimes these sunrises just keep coming and coming. It has been like this for the past four mornings. If you add the sound effects of the water swirling past the dock and the many birds just arrived from points south, and the wooducks wheeping overhead, you have the makings of one of those times. You know, just one of those times. Wanting to preserve the moment in a bottle is tempting, but maybe the true value is in the transience itself.

I have a thought to share with others who might be sitting around the table drinking coffee with me this morning. It comes from a realization while doing a chore yesterday. I was cutting some scrap reclaimed cypress boards into short pieces to make a picket fence. I was tying bundles of them together in stacks about a foot in diameter. As I tied the bundles, I took note of what I was doing, and the knot I was using. And the memory came back from 44 years ago. I was doing what a man, a very special man, taught me in a brief moment of seeming insignificance. His name was Ira S. Nelson, and he was a horticulturist among other things, including being a great humanitarian. It was so simple, what he said. I was tying some packages of orchids to ship them, and I asked him if he would put his finger on the simple knot so that it wouldn’t slip while I tied the bow. He did, but then he said “You know, if you make another turn on the first knot, it won’t slip”. And I didn’t believe it, but it works - it did then and it does now. I can’t imagine how many times I have used that trick to tie something when there was no one around to “put a finger on it”.

The whole significance of this is, to me, that we always seem to remember people for solving earth-shaking problems whether they be inventing electricity or getting us through a life crisis. But we also owe much to people who just teach us how to tie a knot that won’t slip.

This whole knot thing goes beyond the usefulness of the knot Dr. Nelson showed me, and the ability to tie other kinds of knots that don’t slip, or do if that is their purpose. It ties directly to the things you have to do when you make a living on a river. Knots are everywhere. And if they are tied well, the river lets you keep your things, if not it takes the things for itself. They just float away. So, Dr. Ira S. Nelson, I remember you today for what you did all those years ago, as I have remembered many times since then. What small things will bring about the memories in others we influence everyday. And I wonder, maybe that really is all there is to immortality. It would be enough, I think.

The kickin river is at 16.1 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge this morning, rising to 17.1 feet by Monday. That’s a lot of water, but the crest of the Mississippi is at Memphis right now, with falling or stable stages above Memphis. If no really big rains come to the country up there, this could be all there is for this current rise. This will flush out a lot of the swamp and pump some oxygenated water into places where the little things make more little things, if they can breathe.

Rise and Shine, Jim


Blogger Doug said...

Crossing the RIVER (she's fat) next Wed. for an extendeddddd weekend. Do some clean up, hope to catch a few fish, just glad to be back in the basin. Gonna slip up on on a rookery that started two years ago of Great Blue Herons; they were already prenesting end of Jan. Talk at you later.

March 30, 2008 1:17 AM  
Blogger Isabel said...

My husband, Walt, and I are writing a book and we need to know what sounds a nutria makes. I have just read your piece about you pet nutria, Unk. We will be glad to call you so that you can either make or describe the sounds to us. Isabel

May 26, 2008 2:16 PM  
Blogger jim said...

What kind of a book would that be, Isabel? The sound they make is the name of the pet we had, "UNK", sort of. If you call me, I can do something more by imitating it. Our number is listed in the Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, phonebook. Thanks for the comment, Jim

May 26, 2008 8:33 PM  

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