Human Geography

Download Down on the Batture by Oliver A. Houck PDF

By Oliver A. Houck

The decrease Mississippi River winds earlier town of latest Orleans among huge, immense levees and a rim of sand, dust, and bushes referred to as "the batture." in this distant and overlooked piece of land flourishes a humanity certain to the region-ramblers, artists, drinkers, fishers, rabbit hunters, puppy walkers, sundown watchers, and refugees from Immigration, alimony, and different features of contemporary life.Author Oliver A. Houck has frequented this position for the prior twenty-five years. Down at the Batture describes a lifestyles, pastoral, now and then marginal, yet remarkably fecund and astonishing. From this position he meditates on Louisiana, the country of the waterway, and its better environs. He describes the entire actors that experience performed lead roles at the fringe of the mightiest river of the continent, and comprises in his narrative plantations, pollutants, homicide, land grabs, keelboat brawlers, slave rebellions, the Corps of Engineers, and the oil industry.Houck attracts from his event in New Orleans because the early Nineteen Seventies within the perform and educating of legislations. He has been a participant in lots of of the problems he describes, even though he doesn't adopt to argue them the following. as an alternative, tale through tale, he makes use of the batture to discover the forces that experience formed and spell out the way forward for the quarter. the image emerges of a spot that---for all its tangle of undergrowth, drifting humanity, moving dimensions within the upward push and fall of floodwater---provides respite and sanctuary for values which are unique to the US and ever in danger from the homogenizing forces of civilization.

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You are very alone out here, even if the woods are not extensive, and within the memory of our elders white men brought blacks down to the river and killed them. God knows what they did when they found a female. One spring weekend I was canoeing with my students through the Atchafalaya swamp west of here. Norman was in my bow, brown-skinned in a tawny way that until you got up close might, in the terrible vernacular of the region, pass. We were drifting down a lake when suddenly an aluminum johnboat came roaring out of the trees, two white men in it, the one in front holding a shotgun about twice the length of anything I’d used in the army, draped across his knees.

I will tell you this, though. The pull of this one bird is so strong that there are thousands of us, maybe millions, who would go down on our knees and promise never to do this to such a creature again if we knew the ivory-bill woodpecker were still alive. Just give us another chance. We would not even have to see it. Seeing it is not the point. - 40 - Statue You rarely see women on the batture , at least down in the woods. I can only remember two, over the years. One was camped in a small sea of wine cartons near the water intake for Ochsner Hospital, where the helicopters fly in low with emergency cases from the rigs offshore, casualties from another kind of war.

The Jones Island venture collapsed. What you have in the Bonnet Carré spillway then, instead of houses, is a lot of dogs. Not the small pets you see on the levee at the foot of Broadway, the city’s free-range dating ground for canines and their owners. Out on the Bonnet Carré the dogs are black labs and setters, and they are being worked by hunters who throw out a red buoy, hold them close, and then blow the whistle for retrieve. The field on the upriver side of the spillway is full of whistles, shouts, and running dogs.

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