Watching tiny heads poke out of the water surface, I stand on the edge of a lake in the middle of Baton Rouge.
It’s only 7 a.m., but already, the humidity has caught up to me. I’m taking a break from my run to admire the scenery and to heave in some oxygen. Being a thick-blooded Northerner, I have to get up early to avoid being totally oppressed by the heavy air.
The lake is illuminated pink and orange by the morning sun, and ten tiny triangular shadows periodically poke through the water surface. Little turtles peaking out to see who I am.
Next to the water are egrets, great blue herons and strange-looking (to me) Muscovy ducks. As I walk away, the duck-squawking seems to come from a group of monkeys rather than a flock of birds.
If I didn’t know better, this vibrant landscape would seem invincible. Bird couples fly about and tropical plants fill in every available space. Powerful oaks stand like stoic mythological gods: their muscular trunks flex as they extend fern- and bark-covered arms to support a canopy of leaves.
However, this lovely ship is sinking. As Mike Tidwell puts it, the wetlands that make up the “tattered sole of the Louisiana boot” are disappearing fast. I can see why people don’t know it though. If you don’t spend a lot of time near the Gulf Coast, the ecosystem here looks to be full of life.
As I jog back the way I came, Spanish moss dangles above the cypress hoodoos along the path. Hopefully, our human efforts can reverse the human errors that threaten this spirited place.
(Photo: jc. winkler, flickr)