Goodbye Jefferson Island

As long as I’ve lived in Lafayette, I had never been to Jefferson Island until Mr. Canada came to visit. It’s much smaller than Avery Island but it has a different character that I found enchanting. I took Lori there too when she visited.

We chased after the muster of peacocks that live there. (Did you know that’s what you call a group of peacocks?) Lori had a bit of food and she cajoled them closer so I could take photos, despite the fact that they scared her a bit.

So before I left Lafayette, I wanted to go there again.

It’s only the beginning of March and as Mr. Canada has shown me in pictures, it’s still snowing in parts of North America, but according to the oak trees and azalea bushes, it’s spring in Louisiana.

While the visit with Mr. Canada had come just after a hard freeze, with sad looking, droopy plants…..I arrived on the island to witness roses in bloom and bright green things pushing up and back to life.

I savored each step as I made my way to the Hindu gate, the weird frogs guarding the entrances of bamboo framed paths leading to the Japanese-style square structure. It was a Monday afternoon so there were only a handful of other people there. I had no where else to be that day. I had no obligations, no projects due, no expectations of any kind. It was me, my cameras, the island and freedom.

I sat on the porch of the Japanese structure for a long time, just soaking in the serene view. All of a sudden my stomach reminded me that I had not eaten. I also realized I hadn’t seen the peacocks yet. Then I heard one of them call out. I looked down the path and they were all gathered on the steps and porch of a small house. I’ll go photograph the peacocks then I’ll get something to eat at the café, I thought.

I made my way over the muster of colorful males and neutral-toned females. One of the males with short, stubby plumage was facing a female and shaking his upright feathers. It was mating season, I realized. They let me get remarkable close as I inched my way towards the amazing, bright colors of their feathers and chest plumage. How can a green like that exist in nature? It was neon.

Then, one of the males with an impressive array of tail feathers stepped out into the path, eager to show off for the females who seem to be nonchalantly lying about. He spread out his big semi-circle tail, separating the layers of feathers, slowly moving the whole fan back and forth and generally showing off his agility in controlling his magnificent appendage. When I tried to get close to him, he would back away just a bit but when a female was in front of him, he would shake and ruffle his feathers frantically, looking only at her and ignoring me and the clicking of the shutter.

Of course, I snapped away furiously, crouching to their level to get a better view. This went on for at least half an hour and I was in heaven. The male, let’s call him George stomped and turned and flitted about as I tried to create interesting images from his dance.

After a while, my hunger got the better of me and I walked back to the café only to find that it had closed ten minutes before. I went to the gift shop and reluctantly bought a honey bun. I scarfed it down in my car and drank some water, then walked back through the shop and out to the garden and its roses.

The wind forced the roses to dance and gyrate uncomfortably as I tried to get my lens to focus on one or two. I took a video to send to Mr. Canada. I was just about done with my visit, feeling content and peaceful. I decided to go back to the Japanese building one more time. When I arrived a male peacock was hanging out on the corner. We sat there, examining each other. I put all my camera stuff down and tried to be still for a little while, failing on occasion as I picked up one my Nikons to snap at the peacock.

On my way out, I walked through a decorative gate to nothing, as if to tell myself I was walking away from one phase of my life and into another. I can get pretty corny when no one’s looking. As I found the path again, George was once again strutting for the ladies, having moved away from the house. I couldn’t leave without taking more pictures so I joined him. After a few minutes, I sat down on the gravel, picking up a camera once every few seconds. George seemed to be showing off just for me. He let me sit very close as he turned slowly around, looking at me with a cocked head, the brilliant, psychedelic blue against the unnatural green of his chest.

After I had my fill of brilliance, I got up and told George goodbye and walked back toward the gift shop exit. I turned around one more time to see the Hindu gate.

I drove back to the compound continuing to listen to “26 Seconds,” in anticipation of my grassy knoll visit, which at this point would be about 4 days.

After a hot shower, I settled on the floor of the living room, set up my computer and began choosing my favorites of the day’s images.

Just three days left.

To be continued……

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