"Doc poled his pirogue through the shallow water at the edge of the swamp."
So Doc's section of Songuerra begins, the beginning of a journey he has been preparing for his entire life without knowing it. That future begins above the swamps and marshes of Southern Louisiana with the break- up of a spaceship, the bird-aliens inside of it victims of treachery and sabotage.
Songuerra is my current WIP (work in progress). I recently completed a trip to Southern Louisiana. The story required answers to questions that I didn't have, and that I couldn't find on the internet or in books. In seven days, I drove nearly 2,300 miles from NW Missouri to the marshes, swamps, and farmlands where this story occurs. But I not only put miles on the car, I went back in time as well.
"As he passed Lafitte's Island he looked at the strangely shaped stump that lay at the water's edge. It looked so much like a man that the first time Pap brought him this way, he almost said “howdy” to it. Moss grew thick on the knobby end of the thing and it sure had the appearance of hair in the twilight. He was only ten when Pap started to teach him the ways of the swamp. The most important lesson Pap taught him was to look at what there is to see, not at what you think there is to see. Many times things that appeared to be threatening in the dark were nothing in the light of day."
The Atchafalaya Swamp
Atchafalaya (uh CHAFA lie uh) is an Indian word that means "long river." The Atchafalaya river is approximately 135 miles long. With more than half million acres, the Atchafalaya basin covers about one third of Louisiana, and is the largest "overflow swamp" in the US and is protected behind a 22 foot high seawall. If the Army Corps of Engineers did not control the Mississippi River through a system of levees and floodways, it would probably have joined with the Atchafalaya river in the early 1950s.
(Special thanks to Jennifer Phillips, Assistant Director of the Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Center for her assistance and suggestions.)
* * * * *
"Sara stepped back, absently wiped the fine brushes she'd been using, and
critically eyed her night's work. Her shoulders ached and her stomach growled
in protest of her neglect of it. A glance at the ancient Regulator clock on
wall of her studio, an instrument she ignored more than used, told her that
midnight was long past. She put the brushes down and pressed curled fists into
her eyes, rubbing gently.
The painting was only partially done but already the canvas glowed with the rich colors of a Louisiana marsh in the Spring. A riot of rust, green, brown and yellow grasses filled the portion of the picture that she'd been working on, each grass stem gently curved by the windless breeze that seemed to blow across the canvas."
The Sabine National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Cameron Parish, in extreme SouthWest Louisiana, the Sabine (suh
BEAN) National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Creole Nature Trail Driving
And if nature is what you want, nature is what you'll get here. 750,000 acres
of Cameron Parish's total area is defined as coastal wetlands. And if you came
to see alligators, that should not be a problem. I personally saw four right
the parking lot of the walking trail. Alligators outnumber people in Cameron
Parish by a factor of ten to one.
As you drive down Hwy 27 you see people throwing nets to catch shrimp, catching fish, boating... and then you get to the Gulf where there is mile after mile of fine sandy beach. I collected a nice pile of shells, and a lot of information about marshes. Mosquitos? I saw one. Maybe the alligators ate the rest of them.
(Special thanks to Michelle McInnis at the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitor's Bureau for her assistance. Oh... and I LOVE your dancing Gator!)
* * * * *
"The water snake swam with deadly grace toward the mating call of the frog.
Just before he located the source of the call it stopped. Being an experienced
master in this dance of death, Snake ceased moving and waited. Almost
imperceptibly at first the water began a vibrating dance of its own. Snake's
finely tuned sensory system picked it up almost immediately and as the
vibration grew exponentially more violent, Snake added his own frenzied
vibrations as he fled toward the rank undergrowth that lined the water.
Not a soul aboard the 80 foot shrimp boat noticed either the snake or the frog
as the boat sliced through the still water of the intracoastal toward the
the Gulf of Mexico."