Saturday, April 26, 2014

Louisiana Lit: Twelve Years a Slave

First, an excerpt from Burning Angel (1995), by James Lee Burke, as narrated by fictional homicide detective Dave Robicheaux of New Iberia, Louisiana:
The moon was down, and in the darkness the waving cane looked like a sea of grass on the ocean's floor. In my mind's eye I saw the stubble burning in the late fall, the smoke roiling out of the fire in sulphurous yellow plumes, and I wanted to believe that all those nameless people who may have lain buried in the field - African and West Indian slaves, convicts leased from the penitentiary, Negro laborers whose lives were used up for someone else's profit - would rise with the smoke and force us to acknowledge their humanity and its inextricable involvement and kinship with our own.

But they were dead, their teeth scattered by plowshares, their bones ground by harrow and dozer blade into detritus, and all the fury and mire that had constricted their hearts and tolled their days were now reduced to a chip of vertebrae tangled in the roots of a sugarcane stalk.

Twelve Years a Slave

Haven't seen the movie, but recently read the book, Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northrup, and published in 1853.

The book describes how Mr. Northrup was kidnapped, sold into slavery, ended up in Louisiana as a slave, survived life as a slave, and was rescued twelve years later.

You can download or listen to the audio book here. You can read online or download the written book here. (I downloaded the book onto my Kindle via a library loan.)

Sue Eakin, PhD, was a Louisianan librarian who devoted many years to checking the details of Mr. Solomon's story. Unbenownst to Dr. Eakin, Joseph Logsdon, a New Orleans history professor, was also engaged in scholastic detective work to authenticate Mr. Northrup's account.  Eventually, the two learned about each other and they joined forces, publishing an enhanced version of Twelve Years a Slave in 1968.

If you choose to read 12 Years a Slave, then I'd recommend that you next read The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson. It's about The Great Migration, circa 1910-1970, when millions of black Americans escaped from the South to the North in a social and economic diaspora.

The head versus the gut

There is probably an algorithm, as yet undiscovered, that defines the right balance between the intellectual/analytical response and the sensing/feeling response to the sustained subjugation of one human group by another human group.

By "right balance," I mean the ability to imagine oneself and one's family members in the place of those who were violated - to feel it - without getting lost in it and yet not be so removed that one can dismiss, discount, or overly-intellectualize it.

And by right balance, I mean for the purpose of .... hmm ... what?  Prevention of future outbreaks of mass human dysfunction? Effective intervention during? The reconciliation or restorative justice that might be possible after the fact? 

I don't know.

What I do know is that 12 Years a Slave (and The Warmth of Other Suns) help us imagine ourselves and our families in the place of those who lived the reality. These books helps us feel the reality, although we are removed from it.

I also know that the story of American slavery is part of our shared story as Americans, as is the historical, generational trauma (more on this in future) that followed the Emancipation Proclamation. The sustained, institutionalized inhumanity against man is what we did and what we had done to us.

Compendium of slave narratives 1700s-1900s

HBO presented readings of American slave narratives in a documentary called Unchained Memories. A link to this video is below:

The narratives were the result of interviews conducted between writers and former slaves, as part of the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938. You can find them here.

Documenting the American South is a clearinghouse for centuries of slave narratives from the mid-1700s through 1999.

Source: Library of Congress

Friday, April 25, 2014

Louisiana: The Dance Bag

A few years ago, I bought a passport holder for use in airports. It's OK for that purpose, though things aren't as easily accessible as I'd wish, especially when I've only got one hand free to negotiate the inserting and pulling out of said passport, other ID, or money. I think I bought it at Target.


Who would have thought it'd make the perfect dance bag?

Dance bag

Because in southern Louisiana, a woman must have a dance bag.

The bag looks rather sloppy in the above photo, but I wanted to show the various pockets for tucking things into.The neck strap is long and adjustable, so it hangs comfortably while you're dancing. The bag itself weighs practically nothing.

So a ho-hum passport holder is recreated into a superb dance bag.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Louisiana Movies: J'ai E`te` au Bal

Cleoma Breaux and Joe Falcon, Cajun performers. Source: Old Weird America

There aren't many documentaries as entertaining as this one. You want to smile for an hour and a half, this is the movie for you.

It's "J'ai Ete au Bal" - I Went to the Dance, filmed by Les Blank, with important contributions by Ann Savoy, Michael Doucet, and Barry Ancelet.

The movie in its entirety here: 

The documentary runs through the history of the cajun/creole and zydeco music in southern Louisiana.

Armédé Ardoin, creole/cajun musician, Credit: Wikipedia

Filmed in 1989, the movie's got the good stories straight from the mouths of cajun, creole, and zydeco royalty. The classic songs all seem to be here. Lots of dancing, humor.

Although this video isn't from the documentary, it tells the same story of the much-loved The Back Door, written and originally performed by DL Menard:

I liked how the film showed the evolution of particular songs, as their arrangements evolved with the change of instruments and musical styles.

For example, here's the 1928 version of Allons a Lafayette (Let's go to Lafayette [to change your name]), by husband and wife Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux (which was based on an older traditional song):

The lyrics in English:

Let's go to Lafayette to change your name.
We will call you Mrs. Mischievous Comeaux.
Honey, you're too pretty to act like a tramp.
How do you think I am going to manage without you?
Look at what you done, pretty heart.
We are so far apart and that is pitiful.
Honey, you're too pretty to act like a tramp.
How do you think I am going to manage without you?
Look at what you done, pretty heart.
We are so far apart and that is pitiful.

Here's a zydeco version of the same song decades later, by Boozoo Chavis:

And here's Wayne Toups (after a bit of a loopy intro) doing the same song in the late 1980s in "zydecajun" style:

Maybe I'll watch this documentary again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Cajun Pop Art: Tony Bernard

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

I like regional pop art, and southern Louisiana does it up good. The Swamp Pop art and concept is an excellent example of such art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the New Iberia's Cajun Hot Sauce Festival (not to be confused with the Louisiana Hot Sauce Festival), and encountered Tony Bernard's work, as presented by Cajun Frame Art.

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

I like the habitat and symbology that Mr. Bernard tucks into his work.

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 


Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tony Bernard - Cajun pop art. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana: Cajun Jam: Joie de Vivre

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

There is a cajun jam every Saturday mid-day-ish at the Joie de Vivre "coffee and culture" shop in Breaux Bridge.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Note the courir de Mardi Gras mask.

The colors in the shop are ripe and juicy, perfect for all of the visitors who come armed with our cameras.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

It is easy to close your eyes, tap your toes, and let the music wash over you.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

When I visited this past weekend, there were fiddles, guitars, accordions, a banjo, a double bass, some small bongos, a triangle, and a deep-voiced washtub bass.

Washtub bass. Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

I loved how the dancing couple moved in and out of the frame in this video:

There are many varieties of coffee drinks you can get at Joie de Vivre, but on Saturdays, if you want lunch, you'll get what they's got. On this Saturday, it was hearty red beans and rice, cornbread, and pickled okra. And, you know, the pickled okra was not terrible.

Cajun jam, Joie de Vivre, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lake Martin, Louisiana: Thistle

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

I visited Lake Martin this past weekend.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

Tall, prickly thistles are in aggressive display.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

Big bumble bees and other insects flutter around.

Thistle, Lake Martin, Louisiana

The flower's serrated-edge arms repel, but the overall silhouette pleases. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014: Old Louisiana State Capitol

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Holy moly, the Old Louisiana State Capitol is a show stopper!

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

I've been in three or ten state capitols - all with the requisite rotunda topper - and the Old Louisiana State Capitol is like a big ol' wedding cake.

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

For the Baton Rouge Blues Fest, the building is home to documentary movies and live interviews with the festival performers. It also offers an intimate space for small ensembles, such as the Fugitive Poets, they of the cool, Mesilla-esque t-shirts. Alas, the acoustics weren't terribly good.  Go listen to them here.

Fugitive Poets, Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014

So what does the current state capitol look like?

Current Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Credit: wikipedia.

To be honest, I wanted to smirk at the looks of the new capitol over the old, but ... I kind of like it. It makes me think of the World War I Museum in Kansas City.

Old Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge Blues Fest 2014: Jimmy Dotson

Jimmy Dotson. Credit: Gulf Coast Entertainment.

One of the coolest things about southern Louisiana is how accessible the musicians are. Well, not just musicians - all of the artists. (No, I'm not gonna say "creatives.")

Jimmy Dotson plays an impromptu song below:

So at the Baton Rouge Blues Fest last weekend, was it richly cool to wander into a large room at what used to be the state capitol and be able to sit in on an interview with Jimmy Dotson, one of the august performers?

It sure was.

In fact, the Blues Fest impresses me with its multi-dimensional presentation. You can listen to big sound on large stages, big sound on smaller stages, watch documentaries about southern Louisiana's blues artists, enjoy quieter sound in small spaces, and be an audience at interviews with the performers.

Mr. Dotson has cut a new album - doesn't seem to be ready for release yet. 'til then, here's an old song.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rootlessness and Death Review

Today I received a reminder from the Social Security Administration to take a look at my future as it pertains to prospective Social Security benefits. I did take a look and I got some good info there about what to expect in my financial future.

Coincidentally, I noted that today some readers had looked at a post I did on Rootlessness and Death in January 2013.

It's still timely, so I'll re-post it here:

Cemetery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

A recent article in the New York Times reminded me I need to take care of some business.

Getting your shit together 

The article is A Shocking Death, A Financial Lesson, and Help for Others, which introduced readers to the article subject's website: Get Your Shit Together. As in, start getting your affairs in order now so you or your loved ones don't have a mess to deal with later.  The information that the author, Chanel Reynolds, shares is very basic, but it is a good starting point.    

Cemetery, Istanbul

That includes your online life ... and death

Back here, I mentioned some vendors that keep all of your passwords (and access to online "assets" in general) in one place and pairs that with instructions from you to share the passwords with designated beneficiaries upon your death or incapacitation.  That is a service I want, but have I followed up on this? No, I have not.

Cemetery, Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, Georgia

The Digital Beyond is "... a blog about your digital existence and what happens to it after your death. We’re the go-to source for archival, cultural, legal and technical insights to help you predict and plan for the future of your online content." This site lists and compares "digital death and afterlife online services" here.

What I do have in place ... 

Advance directive - appropriately signed and notarized, with originals distributed to appropriate people. (The link goes to a place where you can download your state's advance directive forms.) Done.

All of my financial accounts have designated beneficiaries. When I say designated, that doesn't mean I wrote a list of my accounts and entered a name beside each entry on a piece of paper and that was the end of it. No, it means the financial institutions have this information and will automatically transfer ownership of said funds to the designated beneficiary upon proof of my death. You don't need a will to make this happen and, in fact, if you do have a will, the designated beneficiaries on your financial accounts will supersede any conflicting direction you may have in your will. (You know that nightmare situation where a guy made his 2nd wife the beneficiary of everything in his will, but he didn't take his 1st wife's name off of the financial accounts as beneficiary? You got it - the 1st wife wins the jackpot.) Done.

Cemetery, Missouri

 What I don't have ... because I don't need it

Life insurance. I have no mate, minor children, business partnerships, or debt. I have enough money to pay the expenses related to the disposition of my remains.  I don't feel the need to create a legacy via life insurance. So I don't need life insurance.

Cemetery, Armenia

The will

Alllaw has a nice list of DIY resources on wills. For my simple situation, I felt comfortable copying and adapting the Basic Will Form at the bottom of the Alllaw's page. Here's another guide to get someone started on doing up a will - with or without help.

I don't have this in the Done section yet because I'm just now completing it.

I'm not entirely convinced one is necessary for me, but it's easy to make a will (for someone, like me, with an uncomplicated asset-and-beneficiary life), plus having one will remove even the slightest hesitation about who's in charge of taking care of my stuff when I'm gone. I mean, I don't have much stuff (like that printer I just bought), but I do have some. And somebody's going to have to deal with it.

Cemetery, Lalibela, Ethiopia

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Louisiana: Zydeco Accoutrement

Zydeco Joe. Credit: Cascade Zydeco.

At the Hot Sauce Festival in New Iberia this past weekend, I observed these zydeco accoutrement:


  • Accordion fans, used by men and women
  • Change of clothes for when the dancers sweat through the first set
  • Terry towel for wiping the dance sweat from one's brow, usually worn in the back pocket of the dancer's jeans

Zydeco is hot work. New Iberia Hot Sauce Festival, April 2014.

  • Men often wore a cowboy hat, as did some women
  • A common shirt is of the torn-off sleeves variety or a Western shirt, long sleeves intact
  • Jeans, naturally
  • Nice belt buckle

And I know you're wondering: "Is zydeco attire sexy?"

The answer is, "Yes. Yes, it is."

Said sexiness is ageless, too, as evidenced in this video from a past Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Louisiana: Angola and ...

Angola prisoners. Credit: Angola Museum

Angola is the Louisiana State Prison.

Like a few other American prisons - such as Alcatraz, Folsom, Attica, Rikers - its infamy also elicits a perverse ... awe? reverence? pride? I don't know, but whatever it is, it says something uncomfortable about humans. 

Dave Robicheaux on Angola

(See references to fictional homicide detective, Dave Robicheaux here, here, here, here, and here.)

From Jolie's Bounce (2002): 
It is difficult to describe in a convincing way the kind of place Angola was in the Louisiana of my youth, primarily because no society wishes to believe itself capable of the kinds of abuse that occur when we allow our worst members, usually psychopaths themselves, to have sway over the powerless.

For the inmates on the Red Hat gang, which was assigned to the levee along the river, it was double time and hit-it-and-git-it from sunrise to sunset, or what the guards called "cain't-see to cain't-see." The guards on the Red Hat gang arbitrarily shot and killed and buried troublesome convicts without missing a beat in the work schedule. The bones of those inmates still rest, unmarked, under the buttercups and the long green roll of the Mississippi levee.

The sweatboxes were iron cauldrons of human pain set in concrete on Camp A, where Leadbelly, Robert Pete Williams, Hogman Matthew Maxey, and Guitar Welch did their time. Convicts who passed out on work details were stretched on anthills. Trusty guards, mounted on horseback and armed with chopped-down double-barreled shotguns, had to serve the time of any inmate they let escape. There was a high attrition rate among convicts who tried to run.
(links added)

'course, when I thnk of Angola, I think of the old state prison in New Mexico, site of the massacre at the 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary Revolt.

And of the growing unsettledness about solitary confinement of our prisoners.

Which brings me to this March 2014 article in The Guardian:  Why Do We Let 80,00 Americans Suffer a 'Slow-Motion Torture of Burying Alive'? The article compares the experience of Sarah Shroud, who spent 13 months in solitary confinement in Iran, with that of American prisoners who face similar conditions for the indefinite future.

You can read more about solitary confinement here

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Louisiana: "Holy Week Crawfish Supply Should Satisfy Demand"

Crawfish Etouffee, Crawfish Etouffee Cook-Off, Eunice, Louisiana

Here's a newspaper headline you don't see in most parts: Holy Week Crawfish Supply Should Satisfy Demand
Excerpted from The Daily Advertiser: LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Louisiana crawfishermen and the merchants who sell the crustacean to retail customers say the supply should be enough to satisfy appetites during Holy Week and Easter weekend.

It's a welcome turn to a season marred by a harsh winter that stunted crawfish growth, limited the catch and made profit forecasts bleak.

In the days leading into Holy Week, prices for a pound of live crawfish ran from $2 at Db Seafood in Morgan City to $2.49 at Tony's Seafood Market and Deli in Baton Rouge.

The price was somewhere in between at D&T Seafood in Abbeville, where live, small-sized crawfish sold for $1.50 a pound and the mediums went for $2.25.

"We're going to have a decent supply" for Easter week, said D&T owner Don Benoit. ..... 

This reminds me of some other Lenten food stories. 


Georgia: Snails (Part 1)
Georgia: Snails (Part 2)

Snail, Gori, Caucasus Georgia


On my first trip to Alamogordo, while on a road trip with my mother, we learned about capybara and Lent.

Capybara, Alamogordo Zoo, New Mexico

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lafayette: The Sound Track

You know how in a movie there's usually a soundtrack, right?

And you can love the soundtrack and even buy the soundtrack, but you know, of course, that soundtracks don't exist in real life. Because that's only in the movies.

Except in and around Lafayette. Here, there really is a soundtrack

The soundtrack envelops me whenever I get into the car and comes by way of a local station such as KRVS - Radio Acadie. (An in-house KRVS concert video above, featuring one of my favorite zydeco musicians, Corey Ledet, on the accordion.)

Cajun and creole, la la, zydeco, swamp pop.

Picture it. Driving down a shaded street over which live oak limbs stretch, and in the spring, as it is now, azalea bushes at their peak of splashy color.

Passing shops with delectables by Poupart Bakery, T-Coon's, Chris' Po-boy, Jolie's Bistro

Crawfish signs, signs for boudin and cracklin's.

Deep-porched, steep-pitched bungalows sitting atop cement blocks .... drawbridges

... and on the radio you hear English and French, and songs old and new that have you tapping the steering wheel to the beat of a waltz, a two-step, a jig, or the zydeco eight-count.

A real-life soundtrack.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Louisiana Lit: Dave Robicheaux and Louisiana's Shadow Self

Who is Dave Robicheaux? 

He's the protagonist in 20 books written by James Lee Burke, a New Iberia, Louisiana, writer.

Dave is a homicide detective in New Iberia, Louisiana. Cajun. Recovering alcoholic. Vietnam war veteran. A man who marries. A father.

You can read more about Dave here. And what he thinks about north Louisianans here. And alcohol here. And some music here.

Love of (southern) Louisiana

There is no doubt that Dave Robicheaux loves southern Louisiana - its scenery, people, music, food, traditions.

But he doesn't romanticize it.

From a Stained White Radiance (1992):
I sat on the railway tracks behind the French Market and watched the dawn touch the earth's rim and light the river and the docks and scows over in Algiers, turn the sky the color of bone, and finally fill the east with a hot red glow like the spokes in a wagon wheel. The river looked wide and yellow with silt, and I could see oil and occasionally dead fish floating belly up in the current.

From Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002):
Growing up during the 1940s in New Iberia, down on the Gulf Coast, I never doubted how the world worked. At dawn the antebellum homes along East Main loomed out of the mists, their columned porches and garden walkways and second-story verandas soaked with dew, the chimneys and slate roofs softly molded by the canopy of live oaks that arched over the entire street.

... on East Main, in the false dawn, the air was heavy with the smell of night-blooming flowers and lichen on damp stone and the fecund odor of Bayou Teche, and even though a gold service star may have hung in a window of a grand mansion, indicating the death of a serviceman in the family, the year could have been mistaken for 1861 rather than 1942.

Even when the sun broke above the horizon and the ice wagons and the milk delivery came down the street on iron-rimmed wheels and the Negro help began reporting for work at their employers' back doors, the light was never harsh, never superheated or smelling of tar roads and dust as it was in other neighborhoods. Instead it filtered through Spanish moss and bamboo and philodendron that dripped with beads of moisture as big as marbles, so that even in the midst of summer the morning came to those who lived here with a blue softness that daily told them the earth was a grand place, its design vouchsafed in heaven and not to be questioned. 

... Farther down Main were Hopkins and Railroad Avenues, like ancillary conduits into part of the town's history and geography that people did not talk about publicly. When I went to the ice house on Saturday afternoons with my father, I would look furtively down Railroad at the rows of paintless cribs on each side of the train tracks and at the blowzy women who sat on the stoops, hung over, their knees apart under their loose cotton dresses, perhaps dipping beer out of a bucket two Negro boys carried on a broom handle from Hattie Fontenot's bar. 

I came to learn early on that no venal or meretricious enterprise existed without a community's consent.

Louisiana's Shadow Self

From Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002):
"This is Louisiana, Dave. Guatemala North. Quit pretending it's the United States. Life will make a lot more sense," [Clete] said.


A love affair with Louisiana is in some ways like falling in love with the biblical whore of Babylon. We try to smile at its carnival-like politics, its sweaty, whiskey-soaked demagogues, the ignorance bred by its poverty and the insularity of its Cajun and Afro-Caribbean culture. But our self-deprecating manner is a poor disguise for the realities that hover on the edges of one's vision like dirty smudges on a family portrait.

The state roadsides and parking lots of discount stores are strewn, if not actually layered, with mind-numbing amounts of litter, thrown there by the poor and the uneducated and the revelers for whom a self-congratulatory hedonism is a way of life. With regularity, land developers who are accountable to no one bulldoze our stands of virgin cypress and two-hundred year-old live oaks, often at night, so the irrevocable nature of their work cannot be seen until daylight, when it is too late to stop it.

The petrochemical industry poisons waterways with impunity and even trucks in waste from out of state and dumps it in open sludge pits, usually in rural black communities.

Rather than fight monied interests, most of the state's politicians give their constituency casinos and Power ball lotteries and drive-by daiquiri windows, along with low income taxes for the wealthy and an eight and one quarter percent sales tax on food for the poor.

From Burning Angel (1995):
.... Any honest cop will tell you that no form of vice exists without societal sanction of some kind. Also, the big players would still be with us - the mob and the gambling interests who feed on economic recession and greed in politicians and local businessmen, the oil industry, which fouls the oyster beds and trenches saltwater channels into a freshwater marsh, the chemical and waste management companies that treat Louisiana as an enormous outdoor toilet and transform lakes and even the aquifer into toxic soup. 

They all came here by consent, using the word jobs as though it were part of a votive vocabulary. But the deception wasn't even necessary. There was always somebody for sale, waiting to take it on his knees, right down the throat and into the viscera, as long as the money was right.

A Stained White Radiance (1992):
... Over the years I had seen all the dark players get to southern Louisiana in one form or another: the oil and chemical companies who drained and polluted the wetlands; the developers who could turn sugarcane acreage and pecan orchards into miles of tract homes and shopping malls that had the aesthetic qualities of a sewer works; and the Mafia, who operated out of New Orleans and brought us prostitution, slot machines, control of at least two big labor unions, and finally narcotics.

They hunted on the game reserve. They came into an area where large numbers of the people were poor and illiterate, where many were unable to speak English and the politicians were terminally inept or corrupt, and they took everything that was best from the Cajun world in which I had grown up, treated it cynically and with contempt, and left us with oil sludge in the oyster beds, Levittown, and the ... knowledge that we had done virtually nothing to stop them.

Dave's words require no elaboration on my part.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lafayette: The Campus Swamp

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana

The University of Louisiana - Lafayette campus is compact and pretty.  Live oaks drape the main promenade, St. Mary's Street. Bright flowers leaven the seriousness of red brick buildings. Much-loved Girard Park anchors a corner of the campus.

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana

You'd never know that in the heart of the campus lies a petite swamp. With alligators, turtles, cypresses and Spanish moss, an array of fishes, and fat squirrels. It's surrounded by an attractive black metal fence to protect residents both within and without the habitat.

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana

 People visit and feed bread to the fish and turtles.

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana

The "swamp" is more technically Cypress Lake. If one really wants to get technical, I'd propose it was more a large pond than a lake, but historically, the swamp-lake-pond originated as a depression caused by two-stepping buffalo who liked to party in the cypress grove. The depression, which later filled with water, was here before UL was.

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see turtles sunning themselves on a log. .... or is it a log?

Cypress Lake, UL campus, Lafayette, Louisiana