As someone born and raised in New Orleans, I have a love for the water. I panic in places like Nevada where the air is not saturated enough for my taste. I tear up in awe many times when driving or flying out of the city, marveling at just how much water surrounds and penetrates this area. I have my desk positioned so that I can look up from my work and see the river through my office window. But on a daily basis, I take our water for granted, not fully appreciating the amazing view of the hulking ships making their way along the Mississippi river or the sunlight shimmering off the current.
This weekend, I’ve embraced our water a little more. On Thursday, I detoured to the foot of Canal Street to see up close just how high the river has risen. (Very.)
Friday, after picking up Sam from work, the three of us headed for the Fly, the corner of Audubon Park behind the zoo. Along with many others, we walked and sat and took in the Mighty Mississippi, currently at historic levels. The trees growing out of the river bank now just have their tops visible. The barges trucked down the river, driving home for me the speed at which the river moves. In the churning of the water around them, we could see the effort the tugboats were making to steer themselves and their larger charges down the river and not into the levees. Large pieces of debris and logs moved swiftly down the river. To be so close to something so powerful was relaxing – a visible manifestation of my relative smallness brought some calm to what had been a hectic week.
Last night, in wrapping up the graduation events of the last few days, we met up at Bayou St. John to picnic with our extended family (not of the blood kind, but of the shared history kind). Sitting on our blankets and sheets, watching the ducks and the boaters, shivering in the breeze until the sky grew dark. Watching gifts being opened by flashlight. It was the perfect Saturday evening.
Note to self: have more water in your week. Take the time to sit on the banks and appreciate these waterways that have shaped your city and you.
And now, the Morganza Spillway has been opened, for the first time in my life.
Dear people of the Atchafalaya River Basin,
I know this packing up and leaving home is not a choice. And that my feelings of gratitude do not give you back your possessions and livelihoods and communities. Nonetheless, I am thankful for your sacrifices and keep you in my prayers.