JULIE SHAFER — Cypress Cove Landing on the Atchafalya Basin.
From December 30th to January 2nd)
Are there reelee a lotta alligators here?
Oh yah. Dousands of ‘em
OaKay. Welllll, what’re the chances one’s gonna come up to the boat?
“Aahhhhhhh, you won’t see any now – day high-ber-nay-tin
Oh yah. Too cold for ‘em now.
Where’re they hibernating?
Dey bury demself in da mud. Burrow their body down in dere. Or if dere’s no mud den ney throw leaf up on top. Den ney sleep. See a mound? Prolly a gator under dere.
Humh, OaKay, Can I walk up those islands? I mean, am I gonna wake ’em up?
Aaahhhh, I wouldn’t go too fah now. Dey might get you.
Get me – who, the gaytrs?”
Nah, a hunter.
Yup, it’s huntin’ season. Shootin’ deer, duck. Started two day ago. Make sure you wear your life jacket if you go walkin’ roun’.
Humh, Ok. I will – Wait, why shhhood…?
So dey see you. Jacket’s bright orange. Won dink you a deer dat way.
Anything else I needta be lookin’ out for?
Jus da Roux-Ga-Roux. Watch out now, he goh-en’ git chu!
Nah man, the ROUX-GA-ROUX! Been seen in dese swamps now.
I may have an irrational fear of alligators. Under different circumstances I wouldn’t be afraid of alligators, but I had just traveled as deep into the bayou as possible — somewhere I have never been — to photograph something that feels like a big secret. I was unsettled, and all of my fears and anxieties that had been sleeping became a crippling fear of gators. I willed myself onto the houseboat I had rented, and nervous energy made me talk with this Cajun captain, who towed me out a few miles into the swamp. He was hard to understand. I’m sure I was too. Additionally, our conversation was in competition with the “bbbbrrrrrruuuuhhhhhhh” of the tugboat engine. But the relief of the beginning of our conversation was quickly replaced by a new anxiety. Something, someone out in these swamps would be watching me, and I wouldn’t see them. I didn’t need to know the specifics of the Roux-Ga-Roux to guess this was the bayou’s version of Bigfoot. Which again under different circumstances I would be laughing about. However on this day, the part of my brain reserved for the, “What ifs,” was activated. What if there really are alien abductions? What if we didn’t really land on the moon, and it was staged? What if there were parallel universes and I was able to meet me? What if the Roux-Ga-Roux is real?