We may occasionally refer to the Red River as ‘Old Man River’ from time to time, but if it really is an old man, he is no longer sitting in his recliner, nursing arthritis and watching the ball game. Nope. That old guy has jumped up, left the house and is running a marathon from Arkansas straight on down to the Gulf of Mexico. With all this rain, we are now at record flooding – here in Coushatta we will crest at 7.5 feet above flood stage on Tuesday, with Grand Ecore and Natchitoches Parish seeing even more. Not a month ago, our Oxbows were clearly defined. Today, they and the river have become one. Even some of the backwaters have currents, which is a scary thing.
A couple of weeks ago, Randy and I were traveling down the Parkway in Bossier City, and stopped to watch an 8’ bull gator calling for a mate not 50 yards from the road way. Even baby alligators have been spotted on the sides of the roads. Alligators are very territorial. A male gator will challenge any newcomer in his territory. The winner gets to stay. The loser will then travel through water or across land until he finds either a place he can fight for and win, or a place where there is no other alligator. Considering we have a creek in the back, we keep half an eye out for any new critter searching for a home. Although it’s doubtful that it will happen, with all this rain and flooding, it is all too possible for our liking.
Here on Paradise, we haven’t been affected by the rising river, but the rain has left its mark. Our garden has been so wet, we sink up to our ankles in the rows. The tomatoes are turning black and mushy, and the squash is wearing a white fuzzy coat of mold. Regardless of being out early every morning to hoe before the rains set in, the garden is now infested with knee-high weeds. During a short dry spell, I thought I would try and mow the grass around the garden and in the yard, only to get the riding lawn mower stuck in the mud. The scars will be there for a while.
Yet, I am reminded by my friend Gary, in his post Early Summer -2015: Part 1, that in spite of all the rain, weeds and mud, we can still replant and harvest plenty of food to eat. Gary writes, “Yesterday I’d thought to replant the gaps in the corn and bean rows only to uncover seeds that were still just sprouting under the surface. Replanting is something that I imagine can be done easily in the Southern climes of Julie Murphree and Ms. Kat; but up here, it has to be done by the end of the first week in June in order to be worthwhile.”
Gary’s right. We can replant with great success. I can still plant my peppers that didn’t make it into the ground before the rains set in. I can still add another row of okra, and once it’s dry enough, I will be sowing purple hull peas in two to three successions. My tomatoes will dry out enough to regroup, and my beans and cucumbers will continue to produce well into July. And I’ve been able to harvest enough squash to enjoy a meal or two – one with them smothered with bacon and onions, and a second of it fried to a golden crispy brown.
Regardless of the obstacles this year’s weather has erected, I still feel blessed. I may have to work three times as hard to put my garden back in shape, but I can still enjoy the harvest well into the fall. I should still be able to put up enough to serve up delicious meals in the winter, with a few left over to share. And, although Gary may have a shorter growing season, he also needs to count his blessings. I can assure you that, while Gary is out weeding, he won’t have to worry about some alligator nesting in his rows, looking for a new place to call home.