It’s Carnival Time, and south Louisiana has parades galore! Every town we pass has “bead litter” on the ground! Moving from a salt marsh habitat to the fresh marsh of Terrebonne Parish was a quick trip. The waterway of Bayou Lafourche led the Wanderer into the Intracoastal Waterway and ultimately to the city of Houma, where we got fresh supplies before heading out again.
The area of fresh-water marsh of Terrebonne Parish is one of the largest in the United States, and we need to keep salt water out of it! Of the four types of marsh: salt, brackish, intermediate, and fresh, the fresh marsh offers the greatest diversity of plant life. The winter marsh looks barren at first glance, but we are found it overflowing with animal and plant life. CC captured this reality while traveling in the marsh, and he wrote about it in his book, THE GULF COAST, with the following two paragraphs.
“Marshes are mucky/icky and yucky.” This little rhyme a friend jokingly told me is partially true. In a physical sense, coastal wetlands are an environment hostile to mankind. No one knows it better than those who work there. An old Cajun fisherman mused, “If I had the tough hide of a ’gator, the webbed feet of a duck, and them big wings of the blue heron, I’d get around this marsh just fine.”
My dreams are similar. If I could soar, I’d be a golden eagle; as a mammal, I’d choose to be a river otter. I decided this a long time ago because both creatures are so efficient that they have time for recreation. In one of their bodies I could travel the marsh effortlessly. But I am stuck with my human body, its plantar feet with unwebbed toes that quickly sink into the muck, hair-poor skin too soft for the sharp grasses and the prickling beaks of swarming mosquitoes, and a hand with an extraordinary opposable thumb that’s too slow to catch fish or other live food.”
These two paragraphs make sense to me now as we pull on hip boots, put on three layers of clothes, hats, and gloves, pack binoculars, sunglasses, and fishing poles, and work to get our boat ready! We have a canoe for quiet shallow waters, a dinghy for fast travel, and a houseboat to live and eat on. The list of what equipment humans need in order to spend time comfortably in the wetlands is quite long. Animals with all their unique adaptations really have it made!
Recent sightings of eagles soaring overhead and two playful otters make me envious of nature’s creatures as we scurry back to our boat to get a rain suit, hat, and gloves!
It is still too chilly for ‘gator activity, but a group of deer running over a high marsh ridge, the thousands of birds calling, the otters frolicking, and fish jumping, as well as the majestic sunrises and sunsets, are each day exciting “parades” to us .