Our friend the RAIN!!
August 12 2016 | News
Rain has been our friend here in the Honey Island Swamp as of late. I guess you could call it our friend. We might as well because it has been ever present this summer here in the swamp and in New Orleans, and while it makes the swamp life grow and cools things down for the animals and the people, it tends to be a bother for some folks. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to do swamp tours, to depend on nature for the living you make and try to preserve what you can in the process, and so rain and all it brings, comes into my thoughts.
As a child growing up, summer rainstorms were one of my favorite things. The darkening clouds that would move in meant that Mamaw and I would be coming in from the garden or the blackberry patches to sit on the porch and hear, watch, and feel the beauty of the rain. This wasn’t to say that we wouldn’t be busy. These were perfect times to catch up on shelling peas or butterbeans while we sat on Mamaw’s long porch and absorbed the amazing power of nature. Mamaw would usually have some amusing story to tell from her childhood as we sat and shelled. I always loved that she had come from an era when children called their parents Ma and Pa, and she loved to tell about life growing up in the woods, so we would sit smelling the rain smells, feeling the temperature drop, and listening to thunder roll, all while shelling and story telling.
It was these early times full of joy and acceptance of nature and her plans that sowed the seeds of my love of rainstorms, nature, and all that comes with her. I could not keep my mamaw forever, but I took what I could glean from her brave and boisterous heart with me many years later when I traveled to the land of my ancestors in Ireland. I remember when the bus stopped at the Cliffs of Moher and some of the tourists stayed back and didn’t get out to begin the long climb to the very top of these famous cliffs, I was literally stunned. I could not imagine coming this far to see this amazing site and sitting in a tour bus, so I went back to ask if they were all right. They just said they had no desire to get out in this kind of weather. They were obviously upset with the tour guide, and as I was getting back off the bus and heading to catch up with my son I could hear them letting the poor guide know that this was not what they had expected at all.
Thankfully my son was more than game to brave the winds and rain, and when I say winds, I mean gusts upwards of 70 miles per hour, and we had the most unbelievable time! I have pictures of him almost standing sideways. We ran and rolled down the hills, letting the wind blow us where it would, and we almost ended up falling into the cows in a nearby pasture, but it was the best day. Yes, I was rain soaked, but I was seeing the most fabulous cliffs and watching other brave tourists laugh and enjoy all that Mother Nature had for us that day. Now let me be honest, this was all B.S. meaning this was all Before Swamp life. I was just a school teacher raising her son and saving every extra penny for wonderful life changing vacations every time I could squeeze them in our lives, so I knew that was, in all probability, the only time I would be able to see the Cliffs of Moher. If I had not had my mamaw and the love for all things in life that she taught me, I might have sat in that tour bus too. I might not have known how wonderful it truly is that NATURE IS WILD. I might have wanted to wrangle nature and put it into a small box that I could better relate to and experience with ease, but thankfully, I did have the best of Mamaws, and I KNEW that nature is best experienced naturally, that wind and rain can more often than not, be a welcome addition to any adventure, and that no matter how sweet I may temporarily feel, I would not melt like sugar in the rain.
Now most of the tourists that come to see us are really about up for anything and are loads of fun, but too often I do see timid tourists who are not sure of them selves or of nature, but there they are trying. They are trying to get to know the wildness of the wind, the sun, the rain, the alligators, and all that is the swamp. Something calls them to see things beyond the ordinary, and they may not be totally prepared for a rainy day in the swamp or a hot day for that matter, but that is were we come in. I am learning that it is up to us to help those customers feel more, be prepared to accept what hidden gifts might be found in the swamp on a rainy day when the animals are out in droves because the heat is at bay for a moment, to help those customers get out of their comfort zones for just a bit and take a very safe walk on the wild side because we have all come too far to miss out on anything in this life! I don’t want to see anyone sit on the bus and miss out on all that is out there, so come see us even if our friend the rain is out and about. Every day is a good in the swamp! ENJOY THIS LIFE! Hope to see you soon.