For Want of Place

I took some time to pick pecans,
and planted an olive tree (famous symbol of retreating water) with my army shovel,
leaving some broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprout plants for the garden near where I had hung my hammock.
A little later, I drove out to east Texas to visit with the kids. The oldest boy, great with dogs, looked handsome with his well manicured beard, a little on the thin side though. The grandmother and I sat on the porch and caught up – the oldest girl is now married with a young baby, the middle girl is now a champion wrestler, the youngest girl, graduating from high school this year, took the air force exam and did really well. Smart and fearless, it would be a great opportunity for her. The youngest boy still loves the outdoors. Both of the other 2 boys have girlfriends. There were lots of puppies, very obviously fathered by Spot, or one of his progeny.

Moving back through Louisiana on the way up, I tried to stay overnight in the Baton Rouge area to volunteer to help with the clean up as they were organizing crews spontaneously every morning and afternoon. Having accidentally left my insulin in Tx, and therefore switching to a different OTC kind, and fasting for a day, I arrived after a day of picking pecans, planting a tree in dirt that was better suited for a pick-axe, and a few hours of driving, tired, hungry, and in medical need. I went from one hotel to the next to try to pay for a room (or pay for one with a displaced family), only to be turned away. There was the Motel 6 in Denham Springs, open doors to most of the rooms, with flood debris inside, no front office, a few seemingly occupied with squatters. I briefly considered it, but it brought back too many memories. I had moved passed this 15 year homeless vagrant, “No, we won’t house YOU” stage in my life. It was one thing to camp out in nature occasionally because you love nature and the outdoors, it was another thing to be told that this was your station in life. Having worked both Katrina and Rita in La, I was not going to fight for the right to help in the flood in Baton Rouge. Lucky to have my legs, I left “space” rather than “clean-up labor”. Looking back, getting the motel habitable, and people who are yet so stunned by their loss that they can’t function out of the city, to allow people who can labor and rebuild will probably be the right first step for the city. Cleaning up the motel should be a priority.

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