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(TFT) Before I cover the bamboo forest

Before I cover the bamboo forest

   Lastly before I cover the bamboo forest, let me take a moment to describe
the seasons.  In winter a lot of the undergrowth dies back and it is easy to
see a long way.  In summer a person can hide anywhere by crouching down.  Just
make sure it`s not in a patch of fire weed.  But every spring it floods and
Dawson`s creek overflows the banks.  This cuts off access to most of the woods
as the trail goes right along the bayou.

   It`s then that Darryl Mark and I bring out a pirogue we have been building
and paddle the creek.  To travel down stream quickly use the strong current of
the swollen creek.  Move over to the shallows where the path used to be to
travel up stream with little resistance.  Then one spring there is a record
flood and the entire wood is underwater.

   It`s about a mater and a half deep throughout the entire wood.  Not just
along the bayou.  We use poles to push along.  I`ve never seen the woods like
this.  All of the undergrowth is submerged.  It looks like a room with a glass
floor, pillared with trees.  And everything is soothing.  The birds are
subdued, the sky is blue, and the breeze is light in the tops of the trees.
It`s like poling a pirogue through a forest size cathedral.

   So one winter we are talking Brian skinner with us to the woods.  In
Louisiana it hardly ever gets below freezing, but this day it is.  We are
hiking along the creek when Darryl draws his machete, cuts the bottom of a
vine, sheaths, and swings across to the other side.  Of course we all have to
try.  He swings the vine back and Mark catches it.  Mark runs to the left,
swings out over the creek describes a half circle and lands next to Darryl.

   He whips the vine back.  I catch it.  Choke up, jump back, pull up my legs
and swing directly across to Darryl.  I pass the vine back to Brian who misses
it.  Darryl has to lean out to catch it.  Passes it back to Brian with more
force.  It hits Brian in the chest and he manages to hang onto it after
fumbling a bit.

   Brian lifts up on his toes 3 times like he`s going to swing.  On the fourth
he steps out over the creek and begins to swing across dragging his right foot
off the bank behind him.  Almost to us, the vine snaps loose from the tree
above and drops him on his back in the 1 meter deep, and very muddy water.
Brian springs out  of the bayou to his feet on the bank next to us with the
agility of a cat.

   He is soaked from his ears, through his winter coat to his socks.  We are
immediately heading back.  Even with the trees breaking the wind the slight
breeze is causing his teeth to chatter.  We pick up the pace.

   ``I wish I had my lighter.``

   ``Me too.``

   ``Me too.``

   ``Me ``  Chatter, chatter ``too.``  Says Brian.

   ``Yours would be wet dumb ass.``

   ``Be cool Mark.``  Says Darryl.  ``He`s probably getting hypothermia and
going into shock.  I wouldn`t be surprised if his lips turn blue next.

   Weall stop and look at him.

   ``Well they aren`t right looking anymore.``  Says Mark.  And they are kind
of pale.  Brian is standing there shivering.

   ``The bamboo forest.`` I say.  ``There is no wind there.``  We all break
into a jog.  Once it looks like Brian is keeping up, we run.  Soon we enter
the bamboo groves.  A cluster here, a cluster there, heavy shadows.  Then into
the thick 3 decimeter stalks that tower and rival the trees.  Soon we are
surrounded by bamboo.  It`s like being in a stuffy room.  There is zero wind.

   We have Brian start stripping off wet clothes.  We pull of our teeshirts
and flannels to give him to dry off, just putting our jackets back on.  Darryl
just wears a flannel & gives Brian his dry jacket.  Mark and I knot wrestle
his jeans wringing them out.  Mark trades pants with him.

   ``Ok.  We still have a long bike ride back.  Darryl`s house is the closest.
But his hair is still wet and he looks damp.  That freezing wind on the bike
is going to be murder.  Mark you`re wearing wet pants so you ride ahead and
get a fire started.  Darryl, you and I ride on each side of him incase we can
grab his handlebar and steer for him.``

   ``Can we just.``  Chatter.  ``Stay here?``

   ``It`s afternoon, the sun`s going down.``

   ``Ok.``  Chatter, chatter.

   We j9og the last two and a half kilometers to our bikes and pedal home.
The wind is worse than we thought.  Almost immediately Brian`s hands and face
are turning white.  We get to Darryl`s and he`s walking like Frankenstein, but
the fire is going.  After two hours in a robe & blankets by the fire his is
better.  He takes a luke warm shower and we spend the night telling stories.
They are punctuated by that nervous laughter that says we are glad everyone is
still here.

David Michael Grouchy II

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