Swamps sleep naked and are slow to awaken. Long after green-up in the uplands, deep overflow swamps that sustain Louisiana bayous and rivers remain quiescent, prolonging winter dormancy until the threat of natural spring flooding has past.
That an old, time-marred box turtle in my hand today could be the same one held by my great grandfather on the edge of this swamp a hundred years ago infers a connection mystical if not spiritual. Though unlikely, it is possible.
For as long as humans have dwelled on our bayou-laced landscape, boats have drifted among the placid waters. Local Native Americans built watercraft for 400 generations before European immigrants arrived to mimic their designs. For efficient travel and trade in a wilderness world of wetlands, there were no other options. The earliest boats were dugout canoes or pirogues. Hewn from logs of virgin cypress or water tupelo, some were large enough to carry a dozen passengers or a thousand pounds of freight.
Lest you think French influence on our state is restricted to the southern half, consider the sinuous streams of northeast Louisiana. They flow through our geography with Franco-laden labels both pure and bastardized - and with good reason. Frenchmen were the first to establish a lasting presence. They were not Acadians.They plied every major stream in northeast Louisiana. They put their names on nearly all of them.