Sunday, April 8, 2007

Birthday on the Bayou

It was my son's birthday today, and he requested a trip to the Virginia version of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Eli has an 8-year-old boy's insatiable appetite for peering into biplanes, jets, space shuttles, etc., and his dad contentedly tagged along. But the rest of us needed a break after awhile and ducked into the IMAX presentation du jour: Hurricane on the Bayou. It's the wide-screen story of how the loss of wetlands, through mistaken efforts to control flooding and to facilitate oil production has eroded Louisiana wetlands and tragically contributed to Hurricane Katrina's toll. To me, it was a cut above many Imax presentations, which tend to be long on visuals but short on facts or ideas. Besides exceptional imagery of alligators & other wildlife dependent on a healthy bayou, "Hurricane" featured New Orleans-brand music, notably from Cajun blues master and wetlands activist, Tab Benoit. A local 14-year-old fiddle player, Amanda Shaw, also added her musical stylings and passion for 'gators to the emotional mix (& appeal to kids like mine). The movie's web page amplifies the message of wetlands conservation, with a guide for educators, a podcast on wetlands, and NOAA hurricane information. But it's the music that sticks with me, alternately jaunty and driving or yearning and grieving, as an unforgettable call to restore coastal wetlands to protect unique wildlife and human culture.

I'm not familiar with any good books about Louisiana's wildlife or ecosystems, but I know there are some out there. Any suggestions?

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