The air is thickening down here with Mardi Gras merriment and the occasional warm day brings out the dank of the swamp. I am definitely at the apex of my career trajectory as I'm living in the Merry Green Marvel under a bridge down by the river! But I'm at least with gravel underneath not sinking all that pure green joy into the swamp. I'm slogging away meeting with folks and cooking up projects for next Fall season.
My love for cypress swamp grows with each kayak paddle. I felt I was watching the dawn of creation as I watched the moon rise through the bare trees out of this primal soup the last few nights. I remember other times of my life needing to find swamp or a place where the going is hard just to provide the physical metaphor for the journey through this crazy world.
The other night I ventured off the river into an area flooded by recent rains. I ran out of easy passage water and began bushwhacking the kayak getting hung up on cypress knees and pushing through thorny strip ya naked vines. I got what I sub consciously needed: Lost. I felt frustrated and a growing need to quell the panic impulse or at least the self consciousness of how stupid it would look to Be seen. As I pulled away on trees and pushed with my paddle I wasn’t sure where I was going and if I’d make it back out to the river before dark. I used setting sun to reconnoiter. On a tangle of thorny vine I saw a little snake all coiled up. I’m pretty sure it was the poisonous kind, but I felt sympathy for it more than anything. Most likely displaced from its winter slumber by the flood. It was clinging to that vine just inches above the cold water. I wondered how it would make it through the cold night. The sun was sinking fast.
When I finally could see the river there was surge of exhilaration siphoning off the last of the adrenaline. I paddled off into a side swamp and waited for the moon rise. The chill that came with the evening fog started to settle in and I felt it in my bones. I switched on my head lamp and was amazed to see sparkles in my high beam coming off the tree trunks near where the high water mark lapped up. I felt transported into another constellation! Curious I paddled closer and found that each sparkle was a spider! I was in the swamp orbiting with thousands of spiders!
I’ve never forgotten the phrase from the Lakota that says, “It is a good day to die.” Why would they want to issue a death wish to the sun rise? Now maybe I understand the death we give ourselves over to as the way to real freedom and peace. Yes there is the good fight and much to live for, but carrying the worldly weight grinds us down. When I can accept that death is the most natural occurrence everyday in nature then maybe that frees up more heart space for faith. They say faith sees best in the dark. How else can I explain the myriad of diamond glow in the swamp that night? I paddled home riding the swift current of the flooded river watching the moon rise though thin clouds making it look like gauze on a wounded weary world. Let’s call it wetland restoration.