That’s What I’m Talkin About!

If you’re a gate guard in Louisiana, you know what I’m talkin about!

If you’ve spent much time on the Louisiana bayou or if you watch the History Channel, you know what I’m talkin about. The problem was, I was a gate guard in Texas and I didn’t know what anyone was talking about and now I know why.

The majority of the guys on Lantern 16, our initiation rig, were from Louisiana. They sounded just like Troy in this video except you need to add some chew to listen around.

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And they thought I had a Canadian accent? Really? I’m not even from northern Iowa. 😀

No wonder all that time I spent listening to CD’s on How to Speak Cowboy and reading hints on deciphering a southern drawl didn’t help a bit. I’m such a Yankee, I didn’t even know that you could travel just one state to the east and be in both an entirely different world and hear an entirely different dialect. Add to that, the guys who weren’t from LA were from Texas and Mississippi. Carrying on a conversation was like channel surfing each time a different truck came in.

If I’d watched Swamp People, even once, before we took our first job I might have known what the guys were saying! Until I happened to catch an episode last fall, I had no idea that it wasn’t the southern drawl that had me stumped, it was Cajun.

It also explains why our time with 16 was so different from any other group we’ve been with since they went back to Louisiana in June. The guys were always proudly proclaiming how they could live off the land, and clearly they could … and do.

They caught wild hogs night after night right outside my window. They hung the snare on this branch.

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It was weeks before I found out why the pigs were squealing all night long. I thought that was just what they did in Texas.:D

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The guys would skin the hogs and cook them and cheerfully share their bounty with us. They hunted squirrel and rabbit and quail. They also shared tarantulas and snakes and scorpions and frogs and anything else they could catch 🙂 (Just for show and tell, not to eat)

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We expect to be in this business for quite a few more years, and I’m sure we’ll work with a lot of fine folks. I’m also sure we’ll never meet any guys quite like these bayou guys. When they said we were family, they meant it.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about! 😀

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin ~ Rolf Harris

In November, we took a short trip to Louisiana and spent some time on the bayou. Although I don’t consider myself much of a Swamp Person, unlike Heidi who has a peculiar affinity for swamps, I found the Louisiana bayou to be surprisingly beautiful.

We took a three hour tour. It was just like The Minnow except there were just the four of us, plus Chris, our captain, and we didn’t get lost, and we were in an airboat on the swamp going 50 mph. It was a grand adventure!

We shot across the marsh and the trees and the lily pads as seamlessly as we did the water. The herons and egrets were beautiful.The nurtia, not so much.

To bring attention to South Louisiana’s endangered wetlands, designer Cree McCree held a fashion show at House of Yes in Williamsburg starring Righteous Fur pelts made from nutria — the huge rodent that has a serious appetite for swamp plants and is endangering the nation’s ecosystem….The crowd was split on the huge orange, crescent-shaped nutria teeth that dangled from some of the hems… ~New York Fashion

If you know southern swamps, you probably know about nurtrias. This was my first encounter and it was an up close and muddy one. I’m no fashionista, but really, would you want to wear this guy’s pelt and teeth? He was kind of a cross between the biggest, ugliest rat and a beaver with a sorry excuse for a tail. Chris was a real hands on type of guy.

Our furry friend shared a good deal of his mud with me. As did the our next guests. Chris just kept offering me his pant leg to use as a towel. Funny. Have you noticed that the one with the camera is always the only one who gets dirty. By the time the trip was over, I looked like I’d done some bog hopping. After the nutria encounter, we headed back into private waters.

Long, long ago, I used to have a pretty extensive collection of 33 vinyls. When I was little, they were mostly Disney fairytale/musicals, complete with illustrations. I still know all of the songs from Babes in Toyland and Cinderella and Peter Pan. Every since going to Louisiana, I’ve thought often about Peter Pan. Not Peter Pan himself so much as Captain Hook. Not really Captain Hook so much as the crocodile that had designs on him. Rolf Harris has taken Never Smile at a Crocodile from Peter Pan and had some fun with it.

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According to Animal Planet all alligators are crocodiles but not all crocodiles are alligators.

This is an alligator. His inspired name is Big Al. He’s 13 feet long, which is something of a dinosaur. He’s entirely unperturbed by visitors.

His neighbor, Bella, was lying in wait for us. She was smaller, 11 feet, which, believe me, feels plenty big when she decides to climb into your little wooden boat. She was waiting for her coot. The fact that she knew the routine, didn’t mean she was tame.

At this point my foot was about a foot from her nose. Chris shot a coot the day before. I was pretty pleased. I’m a tough enough old bird that if there hadn’t been a coot, I’m not sure she wouldn’t have been content with something fresher.

I was already muddy from the nutria and I wasn’t keen on being dinner. These photos aren’t zoomed which is why you can see her tonsils but not her webbed feet.

I’m not sure how many crocodiles I may have smiled at in zoos. I now know that if an alligator is smiling back at me on the bayou, it may have dinner on its mind.

Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile ~ Rolf Harris

If only I’d gone to the Louisiana bayou before I started gate guarding, it would have changed everything.

If we still don’t have a job tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.