Sunday, February 9, 2014

All's right with the world: An electric-blue bunting on Bayou Paul Road

Winter came to South Louisiana, bitter cold and savage, at least by the standards of our climate.  Sleet and ice pelted the bougainvillea, our ancient philodendron, and our new grapefruit trees.  The subtropical plants in people's yards and gardens are dead, or at least they look dead.  We will look for survivors after we've had a few weeks of mild weather.

But today the sun returned, temperatures are mild, and the day called for a road trip. Kim and I drove south of the city, travelling past Alligator Bayou and down Bayou Paul Road until we struck the Mississippi River Levee in St. Gabriel.  We drove down a narrow asphalt road through swampland where palmettos thrived in the gloomy undergrowth.  Apparently, the freeze did not molest the palmettos, which were as green and mysterious as they always are.

Rounding a bend in the road, we saw a dozen or more elderly African American fisherman, sitting along the bayou on stools and folding chairs, patiently waiting for a catfish to bite, reminiscent of a scene from Brother Where Art Thou? We saw one young white guy walking from the bayou back to his pickup truck, a large, green scaly fish hanging from his stringer.

What is it, we asked.

A choupique, he replied, pronounced shoe-pick.  I have it on good authority that a choupique is a trash fish unfit for human consumption, but the man assured us he planned to eat it.

Young guy with chouppique

Later, an electric blue bird--perhaps an indigo bunting--flitted across the road as we were driving. Neon blue, startlingly beautiful, almost too blue to be a creature of nature. I had never seen one before. It was unexpected blessing--like the holy water Father Bob sprinkles indiscriminately at special masses.

We talked as we drove about global warming. The experts say we can expect more extreme weather, including violent, ice-drenching, tree-killing storms.  The climate is changing, the earth is turning against us. We face a future of drought, hurricanes, and dying species. The polar bears are goners.

And maybe that's true. But as we drove down Bayou Paul Road, passing the bicyclists ambling along in their spandex and aerodynamic helmets, the world seemed like a good place to be.  God surely wants us to prosper on this planet, the sunshine seemed to assure us.  Don't over-think things, the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper. God is still in his heaven, this day proclaimed; and all's right with the world.

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