The last time I made it out to Jean Lafitte National Park was in April. I grew up in the area, with the swamp butting up against our house. Armadillos frequently tunneled into our backyard and if we stood atop the levee we’d find gator eyes staring back at us. Going outside after dusk during the summer was crossing enemy lines, diving head first into a mosquito combat zone. I remember my family went to an outdoor performance of Camelot at Loyola University once, and my adolescent, humidity soaked brain couldn’t comphrend that one could sit in the city at 8:00pm and not be eaten alive by the little blood suckers. When you live next to the swamp, bugs are just a way of life.
My mom still lives near my childhood home, and once in a while I like to stroll through Jean Lafitte when I’m on that side of the river. I know a lot of people are squeamish when it comes to reptiles and insects (minus the mosquitoes), but I look forward to these encounters. I spotted a rat snake, two alligators, a handful of banana spiders and an unending supply of katydids on my last trip. That said, I’ll jump through the ceiling if I see a cockroach in my kitchen. Hey, even this tomboy from Southern Louisiana is allowed to have her buggy fears, right?
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