Monthly Archives: April 2010

On the bayou

I’d never realized how magical springtime is until I started gardening. Now that the weather’s warm the seedlings I planted have sprouted and the blueberries are getting ripe and there’s this sense of possibility in all those green bunches in the garden.

And then there are times when the whole experiment fails miserably…like when the deer decide the eggplant are going to be their dinner, or when three weeks of torrential rain kills the tomatoes. So, usually, the effect that growing my own food has is that I develop a sense of awe for what farmers do.

This weekend I went kayaking on Cane Bayou, a skinny stream cutting between Fontainebleau State Park and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The cypress trees thin out not far from the boat launch and the marsh grass takes over. I passed alligators, snakes, jumping fish, egrets, wild irises, and even the remains of the Native American shell midden I’m writing about for Inside Northside.

I didn’t take a camera along, though, because my dad recently donated his iPod to Lake Pontchartrain and I figure it’s better, sometimes, to look hard and hold those images with your mind, rather than trying to frame it all through the lens.


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Filed under Environment and Nature

Five Essential Rules for Low-Impact Hiking and Camping

If you’re like me, spring has you ready to hit the trails with a backpack and a notebook. Check out these five tips for low-impact hiking and camping before you go:
1. Stay on the trail.

Especially when mud puddles or photographs are involved, it’s sometimes tempting to wander off the trail. The long term effect is to create new paths that carve up formerly pristine areas. Not only does this look ugly, but it can hurt fragile plants and, over time, denude landscapes. Better to get your shoes a little dirty or sacrifice that perfect photo.

Read the rest of the story online at Matador Sports.

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Filed under Environment and Nature

The high water mark

So Starbucks is giving away free coffee today if you bring in your own mug, in honor of tax day. I rode my bike over to the Starbucks in Lakeview, put my travel mug full of hot coffee in my water bottle holder, and rode back home.

I’d forgotten that this Starbucks has painted a pinkish stripe on the outside of the store to mark the waterline. They’ve put up some nice metallic letters spelling “KATRINA” in the middle of the line. It’s about 7 feet high.

The water that spilled into this area from the breach in the 17th Street Canal sat in the streets for days, leaving a yellow-orange line on all the buildings and houses and street signs. Some days it’s easy to forget, as I’m biking around all these beautiful, bright new houses, that everything in sight of my apartment was once under several feet of water.

As unpleasant as that reminder is, maybe, while people are eating scones and drinking coffee, they’ll remember that we shouldn’t get complacent even though the water is gone. It’s also a testimony to the defiance of rebuilding here, which is something I take pride in even though I haven’t decided whether that defiance is a sign of bravery or stupidity. Maybe it’s both.


Filed under New Orleans