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FIRST Inner Child Creates ADVENTURE: Following my Inner Child into the SWAMP inspired my creativity.

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

How following my Inner Child into the swamp to find alligators inspired my creativity.

ALLIGATOR HUNTING, well, not really --haha. Writing inspiration and artistic enthusiasm.

What did I create from our adventure?


Would I see alligators?

 

My Inner Child wanted to see the swamp; she really hoped to see ALLIGATORS in the wild. But most importantly, we were looking for creative inspiration.


"It was a perfect spring day when we set out in a little boat in search of adventure in the swamp. It was one of those days when you swear you can feel each little sun ray."

Since this was the first Inner Child creates adventure, I was concentrating on the theme of learning how to listen to my inner child to see if she lead me to freer creativity. I started by honoring her idea to go to the Louisiana swamp. The hope was to see alligators, but in truth, I’m a fairly equal-opportunity animal lover, so I knew I’d love any animal we’d encounter. Honestly, I had no idea how any of it would lead to creativity, I was just trusting that it might. I figured if I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired after the fact, I could always just write about the experience itself. In that way, there’s a failsafe in following any inner child prompting.


In my research to plan the expedition, I learned that a lot of tours feed the alligators to guarantee that you see them. Even though I really wanted to see one in the wild, (and knew it would make a better video) the idea of tours breaking down the natural barrier between human and reptile for profit felt disingenuous to my personal beliefs on wildlife conservation. In the end I chose Last Wilderness Swamp Tours who specialize in private and small group tours and do not believe in feeding the alligators.

Getting ready to get on the boat.

 

For my pre-swamp beauty rest, I chose the Stockade bed and breakfast in Baton Rouge. The creative in me appreciated the art filled halls and beautiful grounds. The boat launched from Plaquemine, Louisiana so it was about a half hour scenic drive. It was a perfect spring day when we set out in our little boat in search of adventure in the swamp. It was one of those days when you swear you can feel each little sun ray. I may live in Texas currently, but I’m a northerner—pure Yankee at heart, so the swamp is a foreign entity to me. My prior adventures had never led me into one before, so I was quite excited and even a little nervous not knowing what to expect.


"Rodents Of Unusual Size."

Our guide had an eye for pointing out wildlife that we probably never would have noticed, as a lot of them weren’t particularly trying to be seen. When he was telling us what kind of animals we would possibly observe, he mentioned nutria. My response was, “Rodents of unusual size?” I amused my self alone as no one else (4 other people) got my reference. I’m hoping a reader here might know what a R.O.U.S is. (Leave a comment for bragging rights.)

In the thickest part of the cypress, he pulled the boat up close to an ancient trunk to let us get a closer look at a white banded fishing spider. I find spiders fascinating. These, especially so, as they are capable of hunting crawfish!


White Banded Fishing Spider

 

Egrets, heron, and Mississippi Kite all made appearances. There were a few alligators, but they were generally quite a distance from us and always made a quick get-a-way. They definitely had their introvert signs waving.


At one point, we saw another boat heading toward us in the distance. It turned out to be a crawfish hunter. He kindly offered us Dr Peppers from his cooler and showed us his catch as he told us about his day. He wasn’t satisfied with the numbers he had collected, the recent floods had been mixing up the waters creating a poor environment for the crustaceans.


Dawn with Louisiana Crawfish.

 

He handed us a couple, which I accepted as this wasn’t my first rodeo with these cool little creatures. When I was a kid, growing up in the north, we called them crawdads, and I’d catch them by lifting rocks in streams. I made pets out of them sometimes. I even had a blue one for a few years in an aquarium, named “Baby Blue,” of course. (I didn’t catch him.) Louisiana Crawfish are a whole different culture though, with entire lively hoods and social events resting upon them.


"As I stared up into the canopy, I felt small as they towered, reaching into the sky above us. I sensed I was in a different world, a primeval world, where everything is wild and free.

Cypress Canopy, Atchafalaya Basin

 

Most impressive to me, was the bald cypress. You cannot observe one and not be impressed by it’s stature. As we glided between and around them, I was struck by their majestic beauty. As I stared up into the canopy, I felt small as they towered, reaching into the sky above us. I sensed I was in a different world, a primeval world, where everything is wild and free. The songs of birds and the calls of wood peckers filled the air with a symphony of happiness, of existence.


"The songs of birds and the calls of wood peckers filled the air with a symphony of happiness, of existence... "

We passed by a hollowed out cypress. After jokes about who was going to be tribute and reach their arm into the dark cavernous hole, our guide discussed how the ones like this one, survived the logging clear-cutting of the 20th century by being hollow. This one is probably hundreds of years old. The entire area once had a 150 ft canopy, a full forest of these magnificent, impressive bald cypress. But the bald cypress is rot resistant, and its wood is beautiful, so logging was lucrative. Now, only a small portion, mostly hollow, still remain. I was drawn into my imagination of what it must have been like, how the area must have sang with sounds of birds and wildlife. It’s still wild, but the likes of what it must have been, can now only be imagined.


I sat there in that little boat conflicted, drinking in the loveliness around me, savoring the wild moment, but my heart also felt a mourning— for the beauty we will never see, for the environment the animals who live there will never have. I also felt anger. How selfish was a generation that cared more for their temporary profit than for the enrichment of everyone and everything that would come behind them. If you planted a bald cypress, you could not achieve that magnificent of a tree in a human generation, or two. Or three. Or four… Only extreme hubris would disregard such a fact.


The seed of my creative endeavor was planted in that moment.


"The truth is, everything we do has an effect, whether it be in our environment, in our work, in our families, or in our art."

At the end of the day, we passed flooded homes. This area has been hit with more frequent flooding. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show any signs of getting better. I wonder how long people can continue to live here. With the sadness I felt about the bald cypress logging, I also ponder how we’ve manipulated waterways and water sheds…as a society we just assumed we could bend nature to our use, without any ill side effects. The truth is, everything we do has an effect, whether it be in our environment, in our work, in our families, or in our art.


Lament For The Cypress - by Dawn M. Wittke

 


Lament For The Cypress

Her thousand year old tears streak

a lyrical slide on their race down

move slow like lava

Gravity confused by the strength at which she holds it

Let us harvest this wealth—thousand year old cypress. Our children, and their children,

and their children’s children will never see the like of them again. Not a worry!

We can gather wealth! We can become rich! And what do they want of the swamp anyway? We will give them a cage, in a city, where they never have to worry about this heat again.











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