Water. In my hometown you were never very far from water. It seems as if I’ve spent my life seeking it or it seeking me. The former was preferred as there was no better way to beat the heat. The latter was no fun because in Louisiana you run out of higher ground quickly.
My childhood home was five houses from the Mississippi River and a ferry landing. From a child’s perspective the 24-foot high levee was a monumental playground built for cardboard box sledding and various games involving endlessly rolling down the slope and onto the apron that bordered the River Road. On the river side of the levee from its base to the Mississippi’s edge is called the batture. Lined with willow and river birch, elm and sycamore the batture was an amusement park and a constant source of mystery. There was no shortage of respectful mischief rising like the tide from young inventive minds. Ponding water created fishing holes and adjacent sandy pits made for imaginary quicksand that could swallow you whole.
It’s not just the river—bayous, lakes, swamps, even swimming pools are ubiquitous. It’s hard to imagine the justification for a swimming pool in this state. When my wife asks me to turn the sprinkler system on it’s not unusual for me to wait 15 minutes to see if it rains. Or if she asks if it’s going to rain and I answer yes.
I had an Uncle Dominic who had a fishing camp for a home. You could walk out of his front door and drop a crab net or a fishing line into the water.Dinner? Done. Didn’t even need a pole. You could even scoop your own bait. We all loved going to visit Uncle Dom. No end to the amusement.
I would tell you about summer weekend days spent gliding on water skis on the peaty, ale colored water of Blind River. But it would include tales of gators and moccasins and I don’t want to scare you.
I’m reasonably sure if you are short of money and you desperately need a swimming pool all you would have to do is put shovel to earth and keep digging. The water will find you.
This is why October is my favorite month as it marks the end of our five months of summer and relief from the oppressive heat and unpredictable rain. It is also the time I can remove the life jacket that I have taken to wearing at home.
With the cooler weather at our doorstep, here’s my recipe for Island Kebabs you can cook indoor or out.