creative crustaceans

I was heading out to the truck the other day when I was accosted by a punk crawdad. Its a good thing he wasn’t eight feet long. Coming face-to-feet with a crustacean, here in the piney woods of Covington is not uncommon. It comes with the turf.

IMG_4947

If you drive directly east from here about 15 miles to Hickory Louisiana, at the edge of the Pearl River, there’s little or no elevation change. It is flat land. Like the salt flats of Bonneville but with vegetation. In an earlier time, this region at the northern edge of Lake Ponchartrain, from Slidel to Covington, was called the Covington Lowlands. Its pretty obvious why. I’ve gardened here for the last several years and I’ve found the water table to be really high. The ground stays saturated for long periods after the rains are long gone.

For several years, before I moved to Covington, I worked for a client just a stone’s throw from here. For six years I built a home garden for a great client on what is a pine flat bog. It was a real eye-opening experience. I killed a lot of plants.

I’ve gardened in many soil types since I started helping Mom in the vegetable garden many years ago, but the soil hydrology in the southern flatland bog is some of the most perplexing I’ve seen. Its dry like a saltine cracker in the drought and mushy like a quaking bog when its rainy.

Best not to plant a camellia here. Or a Chinese holly. Or anything else that doesn’t like wet feet. Try planting a dry-lander here on this flat land and watch it die a very slow, and agonizing death: death by saturation.

IMG_7634

above: when I was digging a posthole the other day, I got just a few inches down when I  was a shovel’s head deep in water (I dropped a quarter down there for scale)

Me and Candi and a bunch of crawfish are co-owners of our property. Seems there’s some artistic expression associated with the individual crawfish “chimney” construction. Each one I see is a little different. Little adobe homes of distinction. A social expression of crawdad style or an expression of personal pride in craftsmanship. um, maybe not but it kind of gives me a glimpse to another world under, and occasionally on top of, my yard.

Not positive but I’m pretty sure the crawfish are doing some farming here, building little underground chimney-ponds in which to “fish” for their aquatic meals.

IMG_7633

there’s the “short-stack” chimney-home, with in-door pool(notice the water table at soil surface)

IMG_7695

there’s the side-of-the-mountain chalet chimney

IMG_7445

the green bean row Farm-house chimney

IMG_7692

the “McMansion”

IMG_7885

…the “keepin’up-with-the-Jones or Dueling craw-Dads” chimney

IMG_7876

the sub-urbanist four-plex

IMG_7888

the Louisiana backwoods camouflaged

IMG_7886

the rustic woodland

IMG_7884

the contemporary modern, angled-facade

IMG_7883

and the piece de resistance!    ……the leaning tower of Pisa. Masterful.

I’m still working on what works as far as plants go. Web-footed trees and shrubs do the best, of course. And my native meadow stuff does well. Livin’ is good in these-here Lake Ponchartrain coastal Lowlands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s