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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Day Before

Yes, the day before a big storm. This one is named Gustav and it promises to make up for the near misses we had from Katrina and Rita in 2005. I want to document what it is like this afternoon, about 24 hours before the wind and the rain get here.

It is calm on the river. The sky is that strange shade that it gets before hurricanes arrive, kind of bright white all over. I wonder if that’s what the folks preNOAA meant when they said they knew a storm was coming? If so, they had precious little warning. We have known about the likelihood of getting a visit from this one for over a week and still there doesn’t seem to be enough time to prepare – at least for me. Last night I was madly cooking a timber rattlesnake and a bobcat in an effort to get the bones for my collection before the freezers warm up next week. I got the snake done but the cat will have to wait for me to finish processing it.

The dock is my main concern. The house is built to withstand the usual high winds (I’m really not sure what that means), but the dock is out there on the river looking all lonely with the stuff stripped off of it and secured up near the house. I have it tied with eight ropes in every direction you can secure a rope to, but there is nothing to do about the side facing across the river. If a big gust comes from there, it could peel the whole dock onto the raft and then onto the bank. Of course, it might just break all the ropes and start the dock on a journey of its own. That could happen if there is a big storm surge on the coast at the mouth of the Atchafalaya and we get a quick rise up here of several feet. You can’t allow that much slack in the ropes and still try to control the surging back and forth. I guess we’ll see.

Alcibiades seems to be the epitome of the calm before the storm. The old MAD comic character Alfred E. Neuman came to mind when I saw him snoozing while I was sweating and grunting to tighten things down - "What? Me worry?". It is true that cats do know how you feel, but they don’t care.

When the feeders came down this morning, the hummers and the seed-eaters immediately began landing in the previous locations and kind of seemed to be just hanging out. They will have to take care of themselves for a few days. I’m curious to see what happens to the population we have around here.

Well, it’s 2:00 and the contraflow is in full operation on I10. We just got a call announcing mandatory evacuation for this area. That was a surprise, but no real problem. We intended to ride out the wind in Lafayette anyway, at least tonight and tomorrow. We’ll see after that. Last time it took about a week to get electricity back to Butte La Rose.

Time to go.

The river is at about 4.5 feet on the Butte La Rose gauge, staying steady for a few days, maybe. The Ohio and Mississippi are not the issue right at the moment.

Rise and Shine, Jim