Maurepas Swamp

cypress-scene

The Maurepas Swamp.  I’ve never paddled through it or ridden through it in a boat.  I’ve only driven over it via Highway 55.

BUT, it still intrigues me every time I drive over it.

So, let’s backtrack to this post I wrote in 2014 that mentions Julia Sims as one of the top influential female authors in my life.  I spoke about her 1996 book of photography (seen in photo), which inspired me when I discovered it on a library shelf in 2000.  She spent 15 years in that swamp, taking 35 mm photos which culminated in this enlightening book.  I envied her.  I admired her.  I wanted to become her and own a golden lab just like her.  Instead, I would let her inspire me and do what I could do.  

And here we are, 17 years after her photographs opened my eyes to the destruction of the cypress swamps in Manchac, during which time I’ve watched the last living cypress we have down here give up their lives to saltwater intrusion year after year.  

Now, I’ve been asked (can’t say by whom just yet) to write a series of three articles about and submit photos of a Mississippi River freshwater diversion project that is poised to enter the engineering phase very soon.  This project will help save what’s left of the Maurepas Swamp, which is west of Lake Pontchartrain and suffers from saltwater intrusion that comes from Lake P.

And just on the eastern edge of Lake Maurepas, there’s a tiny bit of swamp that has a different name. Just what do you think that name might be?

Manchac Wildlife Management Area–Manchac Swamp.  Julia’s swamp.

I’ve come full circle.  

My interest in the degrading swamps started in 2000 with Julia’s book, and now I will be traveling to the very same area with my own camera to take photos of the Maurepas Swamp in hopes that this diversion project will move to implementation phase and save what’s left of this disappearing ecosystem and preserve it for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

I’ve never met Julia, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a chance to pop in at her studio in Pontchatoula, if it’s still there, and meet her face to face and tell her what an inspiration her work has been to me and that she’s a big part of what has enabled me to be working on this current project.

And then, we would take a selfie.

And then, I’d rush home and share it with you.

And Facebook.

August marks the 10th anniversary of this blog.  For the past 10 of those 17 years, you’ve been right here with me, sharing the beauty and the devastation of the swamps, reading all my rantings and ravings about wetland loss, supporting me all the way.

You, my dedicated readers, deserve a pat on the back.

And a great big THANK YOU for being here for 10 years!

I’ll keep you posted on this project,

BW

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Comments

Maurepas Swamp — 22 Comments

  1. What an experience for you to look forward to! I surely hope you get to meet Julia. Knowing your expertise and talents you’ll be an asset to the publication and renewal of hope. Congratulations on the job. Well deserved.

    For many, many years I road over Manchac Swamp motoring back and forth from New Orleans to Bossier to visit you and the rest of our family. As I looked out over the swamp, through the car window, I dreamed about what lived back in there. Several years later, at seven years old, I found “A Girl Of The Limberlost” in the Jefferson library. I was hooked.

    Gator, this brought tears to my eyes for me and you. Blessings on your writings. Can’t wait to read them!

    • I love it when things in our lives circle back and remind us how we got to be where we are. There you were crossing a swamp in order to make a trip up to my old hometown to visit as children, and now I’m riding over the same swamp on the way to Pontchatoula for the Gumbo Fest each year. You dreamed about living in the swamp, and I later dreamed the same things after moving south. And I didn’t discover the Girl of the Limberlost until I was an adult, but what a marvelous book and movie! Thank you for the encouragement, and I just hope I can do justice to the diversion and to the writing project! Love ya, Cuz!

  2. Ten years! Happy anniversary! I didn’t realize all of your passion started with Julia Sims book. I’ve paddled in the Manchac Swamp quite a few times. Like most LA swamps, it’s a beautiful place. I hope you get to visit it and also to visit Julia.

    • I know!! TEN YEARS!!!!! Well, it didn’t actually start with her book, but her photos and stories about people just like stories my inlaws had told me for years and stories about people who were my neighbors down here . . put everything in a special light for me; as something special, something rare, and something disappearing right along with the swamp. I really wanted to be able to spend time in the swamp like her, with a “marsh mentor”, like she had. All she had to do was show up and take pics–he did all the boating, hard work, heavy lifting, building of scaffolds for her to sit and stalk owls at night, and on and on! But, with children still at home, all I could do was dream and follow in her footsteps in my mind until I could attempt it on my own!!! I knew you had paddled the Manchac, and I will be visiting nearby Maurepas, at least three times for the articles.

  3. Happy Anniversary and congratulations on the new new job. It’s great that it is something you’ve wanted to do for so long.

    • Well, Cammy, it’s not my very own photography book, but it is a chance to write for eyes beyond this blog. I’m hoping these articles will reach a national audience beyond just the blog or other social media. These will be some of the most important pieces I’ve ever written. And thanks!!! Did you pat yourself on the back, cher? You been here a looooong time!

  4. Happy Anniversary! You’re doing such important work. Without our swamps and all the things that are part of that Louisiana wouldn’t be Louisiana. So go forth and help save the swamp! I know I speak for all of your faithful readers when I say we are proud of what you are doing!!!

    Jeri

    • Jeri, that means way more than you know! Thank you so much! I’ll keep on keeping on as long as I can. I’ll take every opportunity. Sometimes blogging about or just writing about life in these wetlands doesn’t seem like a significant enough piece of the puzzle, but it’s what I can do! Appreciate your being here! BW

  5. I’ve been following Restore the Delta for some time now, and have been interested in the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project. It will be interesting to see how your new project relates to some things I already know about — if at all. It might be something entirely other. In any case, hooray for you! I can’t think of a better person to be involved, and the fact that you’ll enjoy it is a wonderful plus.

    • So great to hear from you, Linda, and you are often in my thoughts. Well, this project is way less controversial than the Mid-Barataria; mainly because it’s much further inland and won’t impact saltwater fishing or oyster beds. In other words, it can only help the economy of the area by saving the trees and habitat for future fishermen, tourists, kayakers, etc. Thank you for following Restore the Delta, by the way. I personally appreciate your interest in our ongoing plight here! And thanks for the words of encouragement!

  6. Jeez, 10 years! Doesn’t seem like it. Through the years your blog has gone through considerable changes. I admire your current work, but miss some of the earlier type post. I like to laugh and there is nothing to laugh about when it comes to our environmental issues.
    The Manchac Swamp is eerily beautiful! I hope something can be done to preserve it.

    • I miss those days too, Steffi, when Termite kept me laughing with all his antics. We had lots to write about with all our fishing trips and misadventures! Other things are keeping me busy these days, you know, working to keep the lights on and food on the table? Life is good, though, but writing for pay takes up more and more of my time. I’ve never quite been able to efficiently monetize this blog . . . if someone enterprising young woman would get this blog in her marketing sites . . . and advertisers were banging down the door . . . meanwhile, I’m going to be selling the remainder of my Bayou Woman t-shirts from the blog soon and direct first, signed copies of my Regret the Egret book. Glad you’re still here after all this time. I’ll try to do more anecdotal writing when the urge hits and time allows. It’s not like funny things aren’t still happening . . . like the rat that hitched a ride to Lowe’s in my car last week LOL!

        • Well, it escaped when my oldest son opened his passenger door. “Mom? WHAT was that?” He jumped out and looked under the car thinking maybe it was a piece of paper or something; but there was no wind blowing and he admitted that it was a rat that had most likely run up underneath the hood or the carriage somewhere. He went around the entire car looking underneath and didn’t see it. The rascal had been hiding in the post hold digger I had picked up at the camp to lend to him. Good grief!

      • The rat could have had my car! I had two field rats get in my Tbird a few years ago and they went scampering across the seat when I opened the drivers door. I slammed that door so hard and fast it scared the grandkids I was supposed to carry to school. I woke the neighbor and she took them for me. Hubby sat a couple of traps in the floor and caught them. The blasted things chewed up my Isotoner gloves in the glove box to make a nest!!!

        • Oh, you lost your good gloves! Well, you know, it would have been a lot worse had they not revealed themselves before you got down the rode with the grandchildren!!!

  7. You deserve the ‘Thank You’ for showing us your area through your eyes. You are an awesome lady and committed to your causes. If it hadn’t been for this blog I wouldn’t have found you again. Keep on doing what you do. Looking forward to another 10 years!

    • I was thrilled that y’all wanted to take a boat ride with me!!! PLUS, Freddie spotted those painted buntings, and guess what I found out that (duh) I didn’t know? The painted buntings nest here every year. I can’t believe I didn’t know that. So, we can search for them with our cameras next summer! Yes! Thank you so much Susan, that means the world to me; but I somehow believe that we would have found each other again. The older I get, the more I want to look back to old friendships! And we’ve been friends for almost FORTY YEARS, next year!!!!! Thanks to Baker Brush Company for bringing us together way back when and to the mysterious Internet for getting us back together!

  8. Congrats Wendy! I hope these articles get you the recognition you so rightfully deserve! If you need a third eye on your trips out in the swamps of Manchac, I’m that eye, lol! I know you’ll do an excellent and thorough job! Kudos!!!

    • What a nice thing for you to say! I’m going to do my very best! At least that area can still be preserved, unlike portions of our parish.

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