Local Observation / BAYOU

By Christina Oxenberg
To stay alive poking around the Louisiana bayous it’s best not to stop unless there is no one around. If there is I doff my cap politely and carry on.
Not because I am afraid, more because I don’t want to disturb nature. I am a field observer for L.A.R.S.
And then the rules fell rapidly apart when I saw a for sale sign, a shingle at the end of a beguiling shell pebble driveway bordered with squat tropical oaks ending at a meadow and a river. Dilapidated barn structures and a short pier and nothing but serenity. I exited the car, trod about, and naturally walked toward the riverbank.
Moss dangles in strands from tree limbs, the smells of honey permeate the air and slowly it occured to me that from such a bucolic setting could come charging an alligator.
I feel this knowledge in my solar plexus and instinctively I stepped back. The water, previously so innocent now looked entirely menacing. Just as I am eyeing the scene, there could as easily be eyes on me, those hooded reptile eyes, watching for an opportunity.
While not many deaths are appealing, don’t be lunch. That is not an acceptable way to go.
As Phägeh of the Hill always says, ‘You better hope you die in your sleep.’ That’s her philosophy on death. There’s no good end. The end is already a bad. To add to that the indignities of pains and humiliations, all of which are unavoidable, says Phägeh, ‘The best you can hope for is that one morning you don’t wake up.’
And that’s how you want to go out. Not fun for those left behind, but that is their business to handle.
I told a local friend, a beekeeper, of my explorations on Route 90 in the swampland and of the pipe with the warning signs marked, ‘Danger’.
‘That’s where Jayne Mansfield died,’ the beekeeper said.
‘Which stretch exactly?’ I emailed a photo.
‘Pretty much exactly there.’