Yesterday and today, I had the pleasure of hanging around with Master Naturalist Buddy John and Emily, the Tree-Climbing Wonder Dog, out at John’s home north of Pass Christian, Mississippi, on Bayou Arcadia, north of The Bay of St. Louis.
You got a bit of a look at John’s place in my recent post, “Week #13 – Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Update.”
The weather this weekend has been pretty nice, with daytime highs around 88 or so, with moderate humidity; not nearly so nasty as it has been the past couple of weeks and will be again soon, as we slide more into the heat of the gulf coast summer.
I had done quite a bit of work for John last summer and fall, helping to build a new bathroom in a ground floor room (he calls it his ‘shed’) at his home, and he and I were doing some more modifications to his ground level area this weekend.
As you can see from the images in “Week #13 – Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Update,” John’s home is quite a ways up off the ground on wood pilings, but still not so high that he could escape having 5 feet of storm surge during Hurricane Katrina in the living area of his home. That amount of water made it necessary to completely gut the inside of the home up to the ceiling level.
John had the foresight to have had flood insurance on his home structure, and that allowed him to repair it after Katrina finished with it, much of it done with volunteer helpers. He has been frugal in choosing the materials and sources for re-doing his home, and has been able to end up with a beautiful home to live in.
He has planted a large number of flowers, plants and trees on the property, especially in the back yard, between the home and the pier on the bayou. One of the most interesting things he has growing on the ground floor area, above the fish-cleaning table and lower back deck, are the young Banana Spiders. The largest one he has there at the moment, is about the size of an old half dollar. John advises that they will grow to be the size of a canning jar lid, and be beautiful. Yeeeeaaaaaaahhhhh, I can hardly wait…
While cutting some boards this afternoon, we chased a Brown Recluse female spider down through the deck floor boards, where the Black Widow spiders hang out. Maybe some of you would like to come and help the next time I go out there to work, huh? If not, I’ll understand.
John doesn’t let Emily out in the back yard now without watching her so she doesn’t go near the pier and water, since he saw a gator measuring about 6′ in length swimming around there two days ago. If the gator hangs around, he will call the Game & Fish to come and trap it and transport it to an safer location.
After finishing working yesterday afternoon, John and I went over to Kimball’s Shrimp Cafe in The Pass for lunch. They have giant cheeseburgers and great shrimp po-boys. While there, we ran into a fellow I work with and his sister, who is rebuilding her home in The Pass, which Katrina totally destroyed.
This afternoon, with most local cafes closed, John and I went to Shaggy’s Cafe on the beach, in the Pass Christian Harbor, for lunch. Shaggy’s Cafe is located right in the middle of the harbor, on the water, up high on pilings, with various private boats and shrimpers moored nearby.
Shaggy’s Cafe in the harbor at Pass Christian, Mississippi.
They had a pretty good size crowd when we arrived, and we ended up sitting at a small table out on the deck in the sunshine, directly overlooking the water and boats.
John ordered some Gumbo, while I had the Shrimp Po-Boy, and we dined watching various boats come and go all around us.
A big thrill was when a 39′ banana boat with three engines pulled in and docked directly below our table, and we got to watch the crew unload several large yellow-fin tuna from the fish hold, into the lower portion of the restaurant. The six people on board had been out two days and caught the tuna halfway to Mexico.
After we sat down at our table, a young waitress who John knew, named Katie, stopped by our table and said hello to John. He introduced me to her, and advised her that we had been working at his house earlier in the afternoon. I told her I was from Wisconsin, and when I did that, she grabbed my arm and punched me in the shoulder. Then she said she was from Wisconsin, too!
I said, “You’re kidding, where from?” And she says, “Most recently, Madison. My mother just got back from there last week.” I said, “Girl, my home is just south of Madison. What a small world!”
The next time she walked by us, I asked her, “Where are you from originally in Wisconsin?” She replied, “Tomah.” I said, “Really, I used to eat at the supper club in Tomah, ‘The Teepee.’” She says, “No way! My family and I went in there to eat all the time!” Then she said, “I’m going in and call my dad and tell him about this; this is amazing!”
Yes, it is a small world, at times.
Shaggy’s Cafe at the harbor in The Pass.
As we dined at Shaggy’s, I couldn’t help buy notice the many shrimp boats which were tied up at piers in The Pass Harbor, rather than out in the sound or gulf shrimping. Shrimping season started during this past week, but many shrimpers were not going out, due to the high cost of diesel fuel and the current low price of shrimp, due in part, to the competition from shrimpers in southeast Asia.
Like I said, it is a small world, at times, and what happens on the other side of it, does affect us on this side, more and more as time passes.
Rebuilding Pass Christian, and the rest of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, is proceeding along, and much has been done to repair and replace homes, businesses, schools, churches and public buildings damaged or destroyed by Katrina. However, much remains to be rebuilt, as evidenced by the large numbers of empty home slabs remaining, as well as the large numbers of Katrina Cottages and FEMA trailers still left around the coast. Those are families without permanent homes, still waiting to get their lives back.
It is that challenge which brought me to Mississippi Gulf Coast a year and a half ago, and which I will continue to play a small part in the rest of this year.
Thanks for stopping by!