Zydeco Apocalypse
Oh, my beloved Louisiana.

We left Lafayette in 1999 to come here, to the land of bratwursts and architecture. A move to Chicagoland (as opposed to Acadiana) seemed like the best thing at a major juncture in our family--and my career--history. But we have lamented the gone world of zydeco and Spanish moss, Creole accents and andouille sausage, jambalaya and Beausoleil, swamps and gators and fratois and big storms....cane and turtles and nutria rats and spoonbills and egrets and herons. Is it a sign that a great blue heron came to our Naperville pond yesterday, and the fish started jumping just like sac-a-lait in Bayou Teche? Oh, Lord--the eye of Gustav is passing right over Lafayette.

New Orleans--the storm skirted it. But we watch the Mississippi running backwards, and the floods sneaking in the north end. Maybe the levees will hold. Maybe not. But most people have evacuated. Many of them have gone to...Lafayette.

My dear friend Darrell Bourque, poet laureate of Louisiana, is hunkered down on his family place in Church Point, across I-10 from Lafayette. They've got water and food and axes. Family has joined them. I wish I were with them now. My friend, the poet Lana Wiggins, survived Katrina in the heart of NO, and now she's back in Lafayette, teaching in my old English department. Pursued all over the south by furies.

The CNN reports are now suggesteing "devastation" all along the Highway 90 corridor. For anyone who loves Southwest Louisiana, this is a terrible day. Terrible. New Iberia, Abbeville, Butte La Rose, Lafayette. All in danger. Those who love Tabasco sauce--your beautiful island is in the apth of ruin. All those James Lee Burke books we all love and read: set in the hurrican'es path. If you don't know the strange surreal gem that is Cajun country, I can only suggest here the mysteries and beauty at risk today. Oaks so old, their branches have grown whole gardens of ferns and smaller trees. Can you imagine? The vast Achafalaya swamp with its ancient cedars, poisoned by salt water. Beloved and isolate Cameron Parish, wiped out by Katrina--nothing but beach. What will happen now? Who knows?

Imagine the floods in Acadiana. The water's already rising. We just watched a reporter standing at one of our romantic spots, overlooking the river. Floods are rising. Imagine the alligators in the streets. The snapping turtles and the fire ants. Imagine the water mocassins in your yard.

I'm watching. Are you? Hold a good thought for the bayous. I leave for yet another speaking engagement in a few hours. South Carolina. I'll be in my hotel tonight, glued to CNN. Watch it with me. It'll almost be like we're all together for one more night.

Say a prayer for the Bourques.


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