Sunday, June 9, 2013

On the Road--Down South: Authentically in the South (June 8, 2013)

I feel authentically in the South now: I've seen alligators and bayous. I got to thinking about the word "bayou" and realized that, although I had a clear mental picture of a bayou, I couldn't actually say what a bayou is. So, I asked someone. Apparently, a bayou is a very, very slow river--not a stagnant body of water--although apparently at times they stop flowing and they even flow backwards depending on tidal influences.

It turns out that alligators are rather shy beasts. Still, I don't plan to swim in the bayous or to stand too close to water's edge. The alligators are quite hard to see. They slip away underwater at the approach of a person and they seem to see us before we see them. Most of the alligator activity I've witnessed has been nothing more than a slight motion followed by a circle of ripples in muddy, still water and then by a few small bubbles in the center of the disturbance. It took me a while to understand what I was seeing. The landscape along the major highways is fairly dull, but on the back roads where I've been birding, the bald cypress-pierced bayous and vast expanses of water lilies and yellow lotuses in more open country are quite pretty.

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