While the "Marsh Mission" flagship, a houseboat named "Wetland Wanderer" awaited repair, I decided to give my small bateau a shakedown cruise somewhere not only close by but also hopefully beautiful enough to inspire uplifting paintings. Since Bayou Corne, in the scenic swampland area of Assumption Parish was only 50 minutes or so from Baton Rouge, we decided to go there.
After a couple of wrong turns and unintended detours, my husband Leon and son David and I finally left the main highway leaving houses, utility poles and signs behind. Both sides of the road became lined with billowing sugar cane fields, but before long, even these are also left behind. Then landscapes filled with palmetto, cypress, swamp maple and meandering bayous came into view. Suddenly the long verdant alley gave way to a clearing and we arrived at "Sportsman's Landing" on Bayou Corne.
There was a line of customers at the boat launch, so we waited our turn and talked to a fisherman about finding elusive Grassy Lake. Next to the landing were three clean and comfortable "Cajun Cabins" that overnight visitors can rent. Dennis Landry's development is the site of the former "Camp Bayou Corne." We remembered it back in the '60's as a rocking place we passed when taking a shortcut traveling from Baton Rouge to visit family in Houma. Then, it was one of the out-of-town spots for a wonderful Sunday lunch and lots of people came there from Baton Rouge and all over Louisiana. The "Camp" had a good restaurant (especially for crawfish), a popular bar and an Olympic-size swimming pool - possibly the first in Louisiana. The launch line finally cleared, and for $3 dropped in an honor box, my new "Marsh Mission" bateau was launched. Away, we went!
From the landing we headed left and cruised down one of the prettier bayous I've seen in a while. In seconds we were in a narrow water tunnel surrounded by green, green cypress trees. The duck weed was so thick on that part of the bayou it seemed as of you could walk across it to reach a stream bank. The emerald carpet soon thinned and we began to enjoy the wonderful early sunset light - all shadow and reflection. There was a painting everywhere I looked - I could hardly steer the boat for the thrill of the possible paintings dancing in my head.
Slate and white heron lurked quietly and patiently among the cypress knees ever looking vigilant for the next meal. As the daylight receded, the heron jumped up and flew across our path. Meanwhile, two young mottled mallard drakes played in the duck weed, waiting for their bright head plumage to fully develop. Long shadows cast by cypress trees across the bayou wiggled in the boat's wake.
That area was absolutely breathtaking - except for the occasional large signs that say "Do Not Anchor or Dredge - Pipe Line." We passed five in the first fifteen minutes - all reminding me us of the reality that a fourth of this country's natural gas and one-fifth of its oil cross Louisiana's wetlands eventually lighting and warming homes all across America.
At dusk, the sky became bright yellow, then orange - rays flickered everywhere and the day was almost over. As the sun sank, it silhouetted the darkened cypresses and brought to an end a perfect day in the wetlands!
The surroundings dimmed and noise of croaking frogs and shrill cicada accompanied us back to the landing. I marveled at David's ability to always find the way back - even in the dark. I am happy and satisfied. I thought: "little on this earth could be as beautiful as where I had been."