'My home is being destroyed, and I don't mean my house'

 |  NCR Today

While here in Louisiana reporting on the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, my wife and I made a side trip to Vermilion Bay near Franklin, La. The state highway wound its way through the marshes bordered by beautiful moss-draped live oak trees. With the car windows down, we heard red-winged blackbirds and many other bird sounds we couldn’t identify. At the water’s edge we walked along the narrow beach picking up shells and examining beautifully water carved pieces of driftwood.

The day before we interviewed Providence Sr. Helen Vinton, co-director of the Southern Mutual Help Association in New Iberia. Sr. Helen had just returned from a visit to the Venice area near the Gulf where the oil now directly threatens the fragile marshes.

She spoke there with both fishermen and with members of a community of the First Louisianans, the native Atakapa people. She said the fishermen -- tough guys used to daily struggles with both the sea, a tough economy and five years of devastating hurricanes, would tear up, walk away from her in the middle of a conversation then come back, composed and ready for more talk.

A 16-year-old Atakapa girl handed her a braided together sampling of native marsh grasses and blooms neatly tied at the bottom with a large strand of native reed and with tears in her eyes said simply, “My home is being destroyed and I don’t mean my house.”

Don't miss a thing! Get NCR's free newsletter.

As I sat near the beach with a stiff offshore wind at my back, listening to killdeer and watching towering thunderheads out over the Gulf moving like stately galleons across the sky, and looking out to the not-too-far waters where the sticky red-brown globs of oil approach, I thought of desert rat and environmentalist Edward Abbey’s quote that begins his famous novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang.”

It’s a lament that cries out in the deepest, most inconsolable anguish: “Oh my desert, yours is the only death I cannot bear!”

I think that to see your place -- the woven quilted mosaic of weather, trees, vegetation, landforms, rainfall, trees, birds, animals and wildflowers particular to that one place that nourishes you and gave birth to your culture – to see all that go down has to be a death that is truly well-nigh unbearable.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017