Image 111017_0449.jpg Ripe Pumpkins on the Vine, Nelson County, VA

Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays, but not craving a big bag of free candy like I did when I was a kid has dropped a few notches.  These days I count Thanksgiving as a favorite day for when family and friends get together with good food.  This unofficial "Pumpkin Day" is good for another reason here in the south; fall is finally here to stay.  Look at today, cold and clear, and I am packing up the boat and heading for the Atchafalaya.  The eagles are back and there could be a few alligators catching the sunshine on the bayou banks.


2000 Bags

Last Saturday was a milestone for I put the 2,000th bag of grass clippings in the Big Hole. Since my blog of 6/18/2012 I have named the newly formed land Spring Creek Delta and it is growing to the edge of the bluff above Spring Creek.  So far I have created 900 square feet of new flat land, always sinking and subsiding, but there are no levees to disrupt the source of sediment.  The soil supply which is these bags of leaves and grass clippings seems to be endless.  And I am are saving them from the Baton Rouge landfill.

Image #130907-0248 Last Saturday with the 2,000th Bag

The view is great and the land is solid. The new soil has been used by numerous species of wildlife.  Check out my blog of 7/20/12 which discusses my remote night camera to see some of those animals.

Image #110813_0014 Near the Beginning with Only 36 Bags Put In

Last week I brought out a camp chair and started writing. The point of the project, other than saving bags of organic material from the landfill, is to have a special place to write. It worked, I feel inspired here and there are bonuses such as the coyote that walked within 40 ft of me as I sat still. It bounded down the bluff to the creek then chased a grey squirrel up the other bank. I imagine I will see lots of critters here over the next few years.

Kind of a crazy project, but its good.


Dreaming of Fall

Blue Skies over the Mississippi River

Fall is in the air, yet I hate to speak so soon as I doubt anybody is turning their air conditioners off in the next few days. I see, smell and feel the signs of autumn though.  On Labor Day I took a Mississippi River boating trip, the skies were a deep blue, an indication of fall in difference to the dull whitish blue of our southern summer skies.  You know, hot and hazy.

We saw a bald eagle, might be a resident but a good chance he is coming back for nesting season. Later two big flocks of teal were flying downstream, darting around in their tight formations. Last week at Lake Martin there was a tinge of rusty red in the bald cypress. Maybe it will be a good year for fall colors. That bodes well for me because I am starting a new book on Louisiana landscapes.  Good fall colors will be beautiful, important and photogenic for the project.  Other signs are the French mulberry in bloom, the muscadines dropping their red fruits and the sugar cane taller than a six-foot person. Finally, just a few days ago my hummingbird feeders went from one or two birds to fifteen, this happens every year just before they migrate to South America.

We've got 17 more days before autumn equinox and a lot of hot days left, but I feel it in my bones the change is coming.


Redfish and Kayaks

After a brief safety meeting, organizer Danny Wray’s horn sounded and the majority of 523 registered kayak and similar non-motorized watercrafts launched from Bridgeside Marina in Grand Isle. “To Ride the Bull”, bull redfish that is. It’s the largest number of kayakers ever enter into a fishing rodeo. This one for catch and release of redfish. Red was not only the shade as the palate of boat paints were likened to a giant box of colored pencils rolling across a tabletop.
#130817_0023.  The horn sounds and boats head into the Bay.
I stood atop the Grand Isle Bridge holding an umbrella over my camera looking across Caminada Bay as the fishermen paddled and peddled to their favorite fishing spots. It rained, misted and occasionally stopped all morning. The wet hardly bothered most of the tough fisherman.  Hook up! I saw the fishing pole bend on a boat below.  The kayak which was tied to another was quickly released.  The lucky person rode the bull, the big fish pulling the kayak. After reeling in in, photographs were taken, and she released it without getting it weighed for the tournament. Perhaps she didn’t think it was big enough, or maybe she was not a competitive person. The winner was Jeff Gleason of Folsom, Louisiana with a fish weighing 32.96 pounds.

#130817_0086 Catching and releasing a red fish.
Just after noon the tide was moving out through Caminada Pass to the Gulf. Those paddlers who were near the mouth of the bay struggled against this current. Strange, August in Grand Isle and shivering cold boaters were returning to the pier, some dead tired.

Michael Mathews and The Backpacker of Baton Rouge crew were there with kayaks and GoPro cameras.  They were title sponsors. Friday night there was a GoPro Red fishing Film Festival.  Films were self-portraits of Kayakers catching fish.

Life is good.  Life has changed from cane pole fishing on a ten foot bateau with maybe a Kodak Brownie Camera of yesteryear.  To a lime green peddle powered fishing kayak with a shockproof, waterproof miniature video camera that can be shot remotely from a smartphone. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get outdoors.


Rafting Westwater Canyon

#130717-0136 Great camp at Black Rock 

Water, rivers and rapids.  I love it all and I just got back from a rowing trip through Horsethief, Ruby and Westwater Canyons on the Colorado River between Grand Junction and Moab. Ten friends in six different boats joined Sue and I for a five-day adventure. In the first two canyons, the river runs slowly with walls of slick rock sandstone except for a short section of black metamorphic rock where we camped the second night. The campsite is appropriately named Black Rocks #8. Day three when you hit Westwater, life changes drastically for five miles of rocking and rolling white water with named rapids such as Funnel Falls, Sock-It-To-Me and Skull.

#130719-0254   Macon Roland in Sock-It-To-Me

Skull had me worried a bit, for in the October of 2000 I was on the maiden voyage in my white-water dory. I christened it the Atchafalaya.  It is a beautiful wooden boat.  Skull has a fang rock that I bumped slightly and put a dent my new boat.  No worry for on this trip for I was in a fourteen-foot rowing raft which you cannot dent. I had a perfect run.  All six boats came out un-scared, except for one lost oar. In the desert heat, our rapid day was enjoyed with cool splashes and exciting rapid runs.

#130718-0199   Golden Eagle taking a bath

Our camps and camp cooking were awesome.  First night was at Rattlesnake Camp where we did not see a rattler, but had a drenching hard rain. It was a good wildlife trip, eagles everywhere. Coming around a bend in the river we saw a Golden Eagle bathing on the right bank. After shaking its wings it flew across the river just above eight wild Turkey and landed in a cottonwood. The Turkeys seemed to show no fear. Looking up and down the river we saw within 100 yards another Golden Eagle and two Bald Eagles perched in trees.  Many other bird species were seen as well as otter, beaver, lizards and snakes.  I am now looking forward to going back on October 2 to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for my Fall Colors Workshop