In the marsh, the sun rises as a giant red ball, makes an arc through the day and disappears, huge and red, on the other side of the world.
We spent part of two days and a night at a stilt house south of where the land ends in Terrebonne Parish.
As my son worked upstairs, 3-year-old grandson Emerson and I amused ourselves in this strange, beautiful place foreign to each of us.
A Louisiana native, I’ve been in all 64 parishes from the Arkansas line to the Gulf of Mexico, but this was my first overnight stay in the marsh.
Emerson kept a wary eye out for alligators. I thought that a good plan. You never know what might appear in wild Louisiana when you least expect it.
“I don’t think there are alligators under THIS house,” I said.
But Emerson had moved on to the ropes and buckets neatly arranged on the house’s dock.
Not knowing any better, I picked up a rod rigged for red fish, two lures on leaders of different length.
My first cast I caught a redfish. On the second, I caught two speckled trout.
“How’re you doing?” my son called down.
“Not bad,” I said. “Two casts, three fish.”
Suddenly, there were three Cullens fishing from the dock. Emerson caught a catfish. The specs slowed, but we caught a couple of more fish I couldn’t identify.
So went the day, new fish, new birds and an introduction to a wonderful contrivance called a “paupier.”
Some distance from the house, two “paupiers,” butterfly nets in square metal frames, stood idle, their nets moving slightly in the wind, like window curtains in an invisible house.
The nets, mounted on platforms rather than boats, have been used by shrimpers since the 1950s.
By the time the LSU-Auburn game reached us via WWL radio, we’d reached a feeling of “no time” it usually takes days of vacation to reach.
We found a wading pool upstairs, filled it with marsh water and used it as a keeping tank for the specs we later released.
We listened to the end of the LSU game as the lights of the marsh town Isle a Jean Charles winked on to the north. (See the documentary film “Last Stand on the Island” at http://vimeo.com/21713580).
The constellation Orion hung immense over the house as we slept. I fell asleep thinking, “What a wonderful place to spend the night.”
The days were warm and humid, but the man at the marina where we put in promised cool weather in October and the movement of speckled trout bigger than ours.
Next trip, any specs caught will be filleted and pan sautéed. This trip, we kept it simple, eating sandwiches and boiling crabs my son caught in traps.
My son sent me a video he made on his iPhone. The camera slowly sweeps the marsh at dusk, the sound of the LSU game in the background.
If the specs are bigger in October, we’ll have to get a bigger wading pool.