Born on the Bayou

  • Aperture: f/14
  • Focal Length: 160mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter: 1/125 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D1H

Coden, Alabama

I have always loved my grandparents’ house for the beautiful view of west Fowl River near Bayou La Batre, Ala. This photo is the view looking down the river from their house toward one of the many seafood shops. The river is not majestic like the mountains or lined with expensive homes like Lake Tuscaloosa. The water is muddy brown and the marsh grass along the banks is a dull grayish-brown.

Still, it is the life-blood of this community, leading the shrimpers and oystermen to Mobile Bay, the Mississippi Sound, and the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Times are hard these days in the bayou. Imported seafood has driven prices down and environmental regulaetions have placed a stranglehold on this rapidly fading way of life, but the men and women of the bayou make their way as best as they can, clinging stubbornly to their hard-scrabble life and their old-time ways.

As a child, I grew up fishing with my grandparents on this river, walking along the perimeter and checking crab traps just like any bayou child. I haven’t been fishing in years, but the memories remain close in my mind, as golden as the morning sunlight across the marsh.

Tonight, as I type, I can hear the sound of my mother, grandfather, grandmother, and aunt laughing and talking in the kitchen as they prepare shrimp gumbo, fried shrimp, and fried oysters for supper. The smells of my childhood fill the air and I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, next year will be a good one. Hope it’s the same for all of you.

Music of the day: Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes by Jimmy Buffet


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