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A Cali Girl in Cajun Country

Many, many days, that’s exactly how I feel. Everything, every single thing, is so different. Even the wildlife.

In my little coastal town in California, population around 75,000, so small to mid sized, we had plenty of wildlife. Possums, raccoons, squirrels, and coyotes; lots of coyotes. You got used to it and didn’t leave animals out past dark. In some places, even small children were at threat. Not kidding, but that was life in SoCal. And bugs? Hate to ruin your picturesque view of life on the west coast, but most of SoCal is crawling with cockroaches. If you go out after dark, they are everywhere. Mind the stairs, they love the insides of the steps. Very gross, but many of the buildings, public and private are totally infested. As a result, I thought I was ready for whatever Louisiana had going on. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not as many roaches, thank goodness, but several types of killer mosquitoes, black ants that sting like red ant and make nests in the grass, the sidewalks and even the streets. Even the dragonflies are wildly different, what kind of dragonfly had black wings and well, flutters at the ends of its wings? Like they are holding tiny, black handkerchiefs. Google has failed me in identifying them, so I’m just going to roll with it. And try to get a picture. So I can send them to a friend and say, wtf?

Pictures weren’t a problem for my latest wildlife encounter. My sister thinks I need to get out more, extroverts! She drags me, kicking and whining, out for walks. Like to the local park. Where they have, I kid you not, RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE! Yep. I thought they were beavers at first, but it turned out they were nutria rats. Also known as the coypu. Just chilling in the local stream bed. And destroying all the trees along it. They eat the roots and take down the trees and generally destroy the habitat. The way that invasive species that were brought in without study usually do. According to the kind young man who answered my many questions about them, Hi Blain!, people can and do eat them and they taste like rabbit. I haven’t been offered any yet, but I like rabbit, so I’d probably give it a try.


Another surprise has been the crawfish. I knew they raised them here, just out of town in the rice fields, but I wasn’t aware that they grew wild all over the place. When I first saw their tiny, mud huts, I thought they were wasps. I’m from California, after all. The yards and fields are filled with wild crawfish. Just filled. I’m not sure how the kids play outside, it must be hard to race across the grass in fields covered with crawfish and the many, many ant hills.

The wild crawfish don’t seem to come out much, so I’m pretty sure I’m safe from any bites. Mosquitoes on the other hand? That will never be anything but a full out war. I am, sadly, allergic to DEET and nothing else works as well. Looking into herbal repellents, but my sister, as sisters do, is pleased to get a break from their attention. Fresh, Californian meat. Wonder how they feel about garlic? The locals are already convinced that I’m weird, so smelling like garlic wouldn’t add much to that. Hmm…

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The floor is lava.

Changing literally every part of your life comes with surprises, but it’s the little ones that catch me unawares. I have lived for decades on carpet, in the relatively mild climate of Southern California, so Louisiana in the winter is bringing as many surprises as the summer did.

Just don’t get me started on the mosquitoes, my ranting on that subject becomes epic. Winter brings cold in ways I couldn’t predict. My apartment is raised off the ground by several feet, a blessing during flooding, but a challenge during a cold spell. Because the floor is cold in a way I haven’t experienced in years. My heater raises the temperature of the air, but not the ground. Forgetting to wear my peds (socks won’t do, too slippery, but my knee recovered) means racing across the floor as if I were playing a child’s game.

The floor is lava.