Chapter 1 – The Move
My olfactory nerves were on overload as the smell of boiled eggs emanated from the rich, brown soup that swirled around the canoe. It’s not a smell altogether offensive, not reeking solely of death and decomposition, but a dark earthy scent exuding both life and death. Some folks would say the water is just stagnant; but far from it, these waters are ever-changing. With each paddle stroke, a new aromatic bubble bursts; releasing airborne memories of dropped cypress needles, fish bones, and dirt from a farm a thousand miles up the mighty river that formed this delta. My own memories of how I came to be here, a young woman striking out on her own, invade the peace of mind of mindless paddling.
Rewind the tape about thirty years. Eyes wide with anticipation of the adventure and the excitement of the unknown, I left things familiar and headed south to a new world, amazingly still in the same state. Today I wish I could send back to that young woman some of the worldly wisdom so hard-earned, and at the same time wish she could fast forward to me some of her unknowing innocence from the untapped reserves. Life would be not be living if that were possible, though. These wetlands are where I now call home, not the abode in which I live, but the places holding things yet unseen—a feather, an egg, a strange plant, or a spider that eats minnows.
Phase one of the adventure lasted about three years, before normal life—that of becoming a wife and a mother—took precedence. You don’t have to tell me that there are women who do it all; but spread too thin, I’m like a homemade jelly that didn’t set—good for nothing. Those first three years were just the introductory paragraph to the essay that got shelved, while writing the research paper on real life. The introductory paragraph held in it elements that would come together so many years later and shape the post-child-bearing person who types this now.
The quaint town of Thibodaux, Louisiana, friends who had moved there, and a new two-year program in petroleum technology are where the adventure began. Part of me wants to just skip over the part about with whom I made the move, but neither my spirit nor my obsessive attention to detail will allow that. My first husband and I were on the verge of divorce, and my desire to leave him (like an old apartment) in better shape than I had found him, I convinced him to enter the petroleum technology program. Surely, the program would improve his station and advance him well in the offshore ranks, since he was already working for a major exploration and drilling company in the Gulf of Mexico, (not to mention my conscience would be guilt free for divorcing a man I had no business eloping with the day of my last college final). It pains me even now, to admit my frailties and mistakes in stark black and white, especially to my children; but like boards forming a framework that hold the house together, these things are necessary, and the bad must be told with the good.
My husband agreed to enroll in the program with one stipulation: I must do it, too. Designed for men who worked odd schedules, often called “seven and seven” (meaning seven days on the job, seven days off), the petroleum technology program required enrollees to be doing just that. What did I know about working in the oilfield other than having a few friends who did so? It mattered not, because one completed college application and a few pulled strings later, I was off to a bayou town called Dulac to work my first “hitch” as a roustabout.
Get your a$$ out of bed and start typing! I’m hungry now.
Hello there ! I read your blog every day, but don’t think I have ever commented before. I guess you would call me a “lurker”. lol I am a 65 year old Widow(as of Dec 31st last year). I am retired and not in good health now. I spend a lot of my lonely time here on the computer reading blogs and playing games on Facebook and Pogo. It might surprise you to know that reading about other peoples lives is what I find most interesting. Especially those that write well and have a way with words. You certainly do both. I am now looking forward to the next installment ! Keep it coming!! See ! It was good enough to pull a comment out of me !
Doris, I’m so glad you came out of the “lurker’s closet”! You are welcome here all the time, and please comment more often and you’ll be among some pretty neat folks! I see you have a very sad date to remember coming up. Hopefully something here will help you pass the time and maybe even bring a smile to your face! Thanks for you kind words! BW
Oh BW, that was a perfect appetizer—left me smacking lips for more, more, more. Get out of bed, dose up on sudafed or nyquil and type, type, type. Very well-written! Not hokey, not simplistic, beautiful description of swamp and odors and mystery. I’ve always been so very curious about your life and beginnings. More! More!
I’ll try try try!!!! That’s the best I can do!!! Thank you so much! BW
LOVE IT! Keep writing. Your descriptions are so good I’m going to look up about the minnow-eating spider. And you are so right. As we look back at the things that brought us to today, both the bad and the good played important parts. I can’t wait to read more.
Good to hear from you again, Susie! Thank you a bunch! BW
Even though I think I know most of the story, I still really want to read it! (And maybe, just a little, so that I can know more juicy parts that I didn’t know before!) 😉
I’m not so sure anything juicy will make it to print!! LOL! And I have an awkward sentence that needs some editing help. Mommer
No better place to start than in the primordial ooze. Hmmmm I should of ran off and got married after college except I wasn’t talking to women then.
kayak is typo . should say canoe. wished it said pirogue.
Yahoo! You finally got started!!! I can’t wait to read more. I really think this will be your big seller. Don’t stop or get busy with something else. If you want confirmation that you’re doing the right thing – you’ve definitely got it here.
Thank you, Kim, for keeping on me about getting this started! BW
I just checked tonight’s TV listings, as usual there isn’t much I care to watch. I was hoping you’d gotten out of bed and started typing again. I’m still hungry to hear more. PLEASSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEE don’t make us wait 30 yrs. to get the whole story! LOL! BW, you’re off to a wonderful start. You keep typing, we’ll keep reading.
Dotter, I hope you’re making a hard copy of this piece.
I won’t make you wait thirty years, but I’ll do the best I can! No one needs to do a hard copy. I write in Word and copy and paste to the blog. I can print it any time I need. You might need to prod me once in a while, though! BW
Hi everyone. It’s been a long day, most of which I spent in bed resting, fending off a sore throat and sinus stuff in preparation for an important state meeting tonight and the holiday gathering afterward. Thank you all very much for the kind words and the encouragement. These things run around in my head all the time, but most of the time I’m not in a place to write them down or I don’t have the recorder handy, or I’m in a place where I can’t do either. I don’t want to disappoint, but there won’t be an installment every day. There might be one per week, because writing is not the only demand on my time. There is at least one more major happening on the horizon, which I will share with all of you soon enough! Thanks for inspiring me with your words, and I’ll try to keep it up!
Please DO keep on writing! It’s a grand start, but you quit just as something interesting was about to happen. I hope the circumstances of your life allow you to write regularly as I know many of us will enjoy whatever you write. I know I enjoy what you write every day!
Appreciate the kind words, Joan! I wanted to leave you hanging! It worked!!! My eyes were so bleary, I had to go lie back down. Once I got the words out of my head and down in writing, I could rest. Thank you for reading every day! BW
Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!! I think you have the makings of a great bio! I will definitely be waiting for part II!
Thanks, Cammy, though I did not intend to write a “bio” rather I want to relate the things I’ve experienced, focusing on bayou life, if that makes sense?
And we’ll all want autographed copies after you write the last chapter. Awesome! I always thought I was the writer in the famly. Not! Way to go.
I still think you are the writer in the family! And Dotter surpasses me by miles, LilSis!!!
Since there is an abundance of writers in this family, I guess y’all will have to fill in the blanks BW leaves out. Dotter, you can write the “juicy” details you know and LilSis will have to tell the rest. Sisters always know more than daughters (or so I’m told)! I have no sisters, but there are stories I’ll never tell my daughter. They will go to the grave with me! (Nothing really bad, but it might mess up the “perfect mom” image!) LOL!!
Oops! *lol* I was hoping my “whatever” comment would fall below the comment about how I surpass Mommer as a writer… Whatever to that!
Love the beginning, BW. I look forward to next installment.
Totally off topic but that’s just me. Get a hold of Mark and tell him he has to share with you cause its Xmas or something and the crazy $100 minimum order was crazy. Winter has arrived. First big storm of year.
Hm. That must mean DCCDC’s, right? That greedy rascal never said a word! Thanks for the heads up! (Dark Chocolate Covered Dried Cranberries, y’all)
Blufloyd, are you up in the heavy snow area? I saw the news tonight and looks like ice fishing might soon be in the cards up north!
Ok I’m hooked. I type really fast so if you want, call me and tell me the story and I will type so we can all get to read it faster. You can be fishing and talking and I will do the typing!
Sure! I’ll get right on that!
Nope, mud minnows. Jamie got one tub. We ate the other one at camp.
No heavy snow just being dusted by 45 mph winds and 10 deg temps.
Colder tomorrow and 25 mph winds.
Back hates slippery surfaces. I move like the invalid I am supposed to be now.
Trip home was white out below hood though.
Okay, BW, I was trying to figure out how to tell people my journey from Bayou Grace to Bayou Chocolate when I discovered that you have finally decided to write the your next book!
Here I am freezing in Lafayettte and just trying to explain the last four years and four months…and you are starting out on 30 years!
Keeping you and your family and all your readers in my prayers daily.
Will be bringing you some healthy chocolate soon but until then take care and keep on typing, typing, typing.
The words crossing the keyboard is the secret.
Stories can rarely be dictated. If they could, every one would have a best seller by now.
Even Garrison Keilor writes his weekly radio news from Lake Woebegone. The fact that he has a great voice and can sing helps him bring words to life every Saturday night.
Writing is like cooking gumbo. Gotta catch the ingredients, make the roux and stir and simmer slowly.
The same way God does not answer prayers using a microwave..like Pastor Callie wrote on Rayne Memorial Methodiust Church newsletter last month.
Healthy chocolate? Sounds like a blog post to me! How soon will you be here?
Lillian, how does God feel about cast iron?? I know prayers are sent and received by fishing poles and the internet.