Atchafalaya Basin
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
CC's Journal 12

Sunset behind Bald Cypress trees on Flat Lake in the Atchafalaya Basin .

When my eyelids cracked open they were greeted by fog as thick as Cajun gumbo and as grey and eerie as Spanish moss dancing in the wind. I knew it would burn off, so I was glad we had one of those Atchafalaya Days, gorgeous and changing. I woke Megan Pearson, who had joined Sue and me last night to help with a media event. Megan is the project manager for, and after all her good work in the office she was finally getting to visit the Wetland Wanderer.

Media day was part of a six day tour, the Louisiana Department of Tourism with the help of Americas Wetlands, The Atchafalaya Basin Program and the Williams Creative Group put on for seven writers who had assignments from National Magazines to write about Louisiana's wetlands and coastal erosion problems.

From our anchorage on Dog Island Pass we went to the edge of Flat Lake to an assembly of bald cypress trees, the same ones I photographed last night at sunset and over the last few days at sunrise. Megan assignment was to download these and make a PowerPoint to show the journalist how many faces the Atchafalaya has in a short period of time. Early in my Atchafalaya explorations (1973) I was worried that the lack of apparent season in Louisiana would make landscape photography boring here. Not true! Not only is the basin dissimilar throughout the quarters of the year, but daily as the weather and water levels change her look. One of my most asked about photo series was first published in National Geographic (September 1979) It showed the same bald cypress tree in three different water levels.

Once the foggy photos were in the can, I took off due east across the still fog laden Flat Lake to pick up my artistic partner Rhea Gary. Going slow it took fifteen minutes to cross each way, with only fog, water and a few patches of floating vegetation to see. The compass was a necessity. At the Wanderer we got ready to educate the visiting writers about our project. Patches of blue appeared and then the sun cracked through and burnt the fog off to display a dark blue sky and beautiful day just as five boatloads of people pulled up to the edge of the houseboat. The writers learned of our project and saw our pictures and painting. Then we all motored off on a tour of this area. I saw two bald eagles, an osprey, a piliated woodpecker, numerous wood ducks, egrets and two beaver lodges on our way to Myron Matherine's camp where shrimp stew was served along with more education on Louisiana wetlands. The writers roared off in four seaplanes to see DNR restoration project along the coast. We boated back to our home.

At sunset I was back at my same group of bald cypress, the knees arranged like a fairy ring of mushrooms around the buttress bases. Normally I like too explore the basin alone, soaking in its beauty and solitude, but like the varying landscape, it is diverse people that are going to keep the Atchafalaya Basin Wet, Wild and Free and arrest the problems of our disappearing coast. Chaotic as it was with the thirty-five person entourage, we all had fun and learned a lot and there is no place I would rather be tonight than right here in the Basin.