So now oil has finally reached Lake Pontchartrain, the lake along the north side of New Orleans. You know, as if New Orleans hasn’t had enough bad luck in recent years.
I’m a Yankee. I’m one of those Yankees who walks fast, curses a lot, uses Yiddish words, and starts exhibiting withdrawal symptoms when outside the New York metro area for any length of time. But I’ve been lucky enough to have had the chance to visit a lot of places in the United States, all of them incredible in their own way. After I finished college, I went to Louisiana a couple of times to visit a friend who had a job down there. It was like a different country. And I’ve been to real different countries. It was swampy, lawless, and exotic. There was music, and booze, and seafood, and droopy trees. And alligators. ALLIGATORS! And even for a fast-walking foul-mouthed Jewish girl from New Jersey, it was easy to see why the place holds such such a special place in the hearts of so many.
Lake Pontchartrain is a huge lake, and the land bridge that bisects it — the Land Pontchartrain Causeway — is 24 miles long, the longest bridge over a body of water in the world. Driving over it, you feel like you’re driving over the ocean.
The damage we inflict on these places for our short-sighted desires is sometimes hard to understand from far away. But these are real places, with real people, and real cultures with history and beauty and music all their own that deserve respect and care and awe. And we need to keep that in mind when we buy gas, and move to a place where we have to drive everywhere, and do any number of other things that feed the beast of our addiction.