Sunday, October 02, 2005

Life and Death at the Roadside Park

There's a little park just off Highway 90, on the far outskirts of Slidell, Louisiana. We always called it the Roadside Park. It's huge mossy shade trees and shell-gravel mini-roads are surrounded by marshes and inlets on all sides. It was one of the anchor points of my childhood, a place we always went to on our frequent "adventures" around the countryside. When I was fourteen my mom taught me how to drive on its little shell road, and I can still remember the crunch of the shells under the tires as I rolled around at walking pace, an ice cold bottle of Pepsi sweating between my legs.

Now a houseboat, washed in from the marshes across the highway, rests in the middle of the road I learned to drive on.

This massive concrete picnic table is the only one in the park that wasn't dislodged and ripped from it's foundation by the hurricane. I was kind of glad for this, because this is the one we sat at that day when I was fourteen, and had po-boys and that ice-cold Pepsi to celebrate good times. I was glad that at least one of my anchor points had stayed anchored.

There were a dozen or so abandoned cats wandering what was left of the park, in the fading light. Padding silently in and out of the bushes, hungry, surrounded by the smell of death and rotting plants.

We found some cans of cat food nearby, lined up and unopened. I had no can opener, so I caveman-bashed the can into the edge of this dislodged concrete bench until it splattered out all over the bench, and my pants. We also left the remains of some donated hot lunch we had had that day. You can see a truck washed into the bayou in the distance behind the cats. Normally that would be a wall of dense green trees, now washed away. We sat back and made sure the cats came over to eat, which they did, although not before the flies got there.

Dinner came much too late for this guy.


Rachel said...

Poor cats! Thanks for feeding them. Thanks for telling us what it's like there.

kcr said...

Hey Clayton, how are YOU doing? How's your Mom? And your brother?

Like so many others, I am DEEPLY touched by your work here and I just want to thank you for sharing your immense talents with us! I KNOW your Mama is SOOO proud of you!

I think about your family and all the good people of Pearlington a lot and I'm just wondering how y'all are holding up. Our best to all of you!

zebulon said...

Yeah, thanks for taking the time to feed those poor cats. I understand, of course, that humans are the #1 priority after such a disaster, but it's always good to know animals are taken care of as much as possible.

A big "hello" from France to everyone there. Get well! And keep us informed.

Like I said on a french blog about your pictures: "sometimes beautiful, sometimes cocasse, always tragic".

(I came here via

Val B said...

I have just come across your blog site and felt I must tell you how deeply moved I was by your pics and account of the terrible devastation you have all suffered. I would like to wish you all good luck (including those poor cats and other animals)and hope your lives are soon happier.