I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

hearing owls, seeing a cottonmouth, another New Orleans milestone

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My dad suggested we should look for barred owls on the bayou; I love owls and wetlands, so I went; my brother drove. My brother has lived in New Orleans long enough to drive like a local, which is to say, like an absinthe-fueled Verlaine might drive while alternately screaming at and reconciling with Rimbaud.

Bare trees at the gates of the park sported round mistletoe `fros and black vultures--I'm accustomed to turkey vultures so these guys look wonderfully exotic and wrong to me. We heard barred owls hooting their Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all? call and a single long high note that my dad, after decades of concerts, could not hear. (I use earplugs at concerts, or stuff chewing gum in my ears--which will probably cause other, weirder problems later in life).

We didn't see the owls, but I was satisfied to hear them in the wild. We saw a great egret in flight, a red shouldered hawk, two white ibis, three immature bald eagles, a bat, a night heron (though I'm not sure I caught it)... and... are you ready? a cottonmouth! (Agkistrodon piscivorus) which I spotted! My dad is so brilliant at spotting wildlife I often wonder what cool things I'm missing when he's not with me on a hike. I was honored when he said You have a good eye son.

That was the second significant milestone of the New Orleans trip. (The first was liking a band at the same time as my brother, who usually sheds bands before I've heard of them).

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The cottonmouth was at most twenty inches, with an arrow-shaped head and black scales. It rustled through dead leaves before launching itself into the water. To swim, it threw the curves of its body from side to side with the purposeful abandon of a hootchie coochie dancer, while holding its head and neck above water as primly as any reformed libertine.

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Above, a young cypress growing straight out of the swamp. The soft, feathery foliage of the cypress is a wonder. My brother said local idiots cut off the cypress knees to make art, killing the trees.

Dark fell just as we reached the end of the trail and had to turn around. The black water reflected an upside down crescent moon, spilling all its luck into the swamp. The owls hooted, and toads rattled like maracas. I could barely see my brother ahead and my father behind me. We were halfway to the car when fireflies came out--higher, brighter, yellower, and flashing faster than the ones I'm used to in the north. A spectacular finale.

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