Monday, November 15, 2010

"I made it to Providence!"

I know that sounds like a strange title for a post, but read on and you will discover how it relates to my story.

This is a continuation of my journey from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Lake Village, Arkansas, traveling through the heart of the Louisiana Delta, on US Highway 65 North. If you would like to read the story and see the sights from the beginning of my trip, you can click on this link — Journey Through the Louisiana Delta.

The first part of my journey ended just outside of Lake Providence, Louisiana, which is about 50 miles northeast of Vicksburg.

Lake Providence is a small town located on a large "oxbow lake" called, appropriately enough, Lake Providence.

An "oxbow lake" is a crescent-shaped lake lying alongside a winding river (the Mississippi River, in this case). The oxbow lake is created over time as erosion and deposits of soil change the river's course.

While doing a little research on the history of Lake Providence, I came across a story about how it got its name. In the late 18th century, goods like animal pelts, indigo, and cotton were transported up and down the Mississippi River by people commonly known as "longboat men," named after the type of craft that carried the goods. These were eventually replaced by steamboats.

Thieves and pirates would raid the boats, kill the longboat men, and then sell the goods. There is a bend in the river called Bunch's Bend where a pirate named Bunch would raid the boats. If the longboat men made it past Bunch's Bend without being robbed, they would say they, "made it to Providence." This is where the trading town of Providence was located. It later became Lake Providence when the town was moved to its current location surrounding the natural oxbow lake.

As you can see in the above photo, the lake is gorgeous. But as you drive up Highway 65, which runs alongside the lake for miles, the view is truly spectacular, especially this time of year.

The banks of the lake are lined with huge cypress trees, and it was difficult to pay attention to my driving with all that beautiful scenery calling out to me to stop.

I finally found a place to pull off the road which just happened to be the Byerley House, a museum and visitor's center. Just across the street, huge old cypress trees shade picnic areas, and a pier extends out over the water. The pier is what attracted me, of course, and I grabbed my cameras and walked out to the end of it. I wasn't disappointed.

I shot these pictures with my zoom lens, and wished that the pier was longer — especially when I saw this white heron on the other side of the lake. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll also see another reason I wanted to be closer. Look at the base of the big tree on the right.

Can you see the turtles clinging to the trunk of the tree? I didn't see them until I loaded my pictures onto my computer.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them, if you would like to get a closer look at the heron, too.

And speaking of closeup views — here are a few pictures I captured of a cypress tree that was close to the pier ...

Of course, where there are Cypress trees, there are cypress knees, and they were everywhere — all sizes and shapes. I felt like I was in "Cypress Knee Heaven," as I happily wandered around capturing them with my camera.

I showed these pictures to our five-year-old granddaughter Avery Grace, and she said, "They look like little castles," and they really do, don't they!

I grew up around cypress trees and cypress swamps, and never really thought about what cypress knees are, or what they do.

For the purpose of this post, I did a little research and found that cypress knees are distinctive structures found in the roots of cypress trees. Their function is unknown, but some biologists think they may help in providing oxygen to the tree, and assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil.

I love the little clump of "baby knees" in the foreground of this next picture:

My lagniappe for the day was meeting this nice couple from British Columbia, Canada.

I failed to get their names, but enjoyed visiting with them for a few minutes. They were headed to Vicksburg, and planned to spend a day exploring the Vicksburg National Military Park while there. They are going to be traveling until April, before returning home, and I wish them a safe journey.

I'll conclude mine in my next post.


Deb said...

your photos are beautiful...I always learn something from your posts...

chubskulit said...

What a beautiful place, great shots.

Nostalgic Marveling, happy Blue Monday!

SmilingSally said...

What a delightful trip!

racheld said...

What a lotta Lagniappe YOU happened upon!! Sweet Avery sees castles where I usually find meerkats, and the mirror photos---just stunning. You seemed to be traveling alone, and just strolling happily along to wherever you pleased.

What a lovely trip.

And now we know why turtles have toenails.

Jenni said...

so interesting! and the history of the oxbow lake and bunch's bend was so fab!

thanks to the "roving lagniappe lens" today....

Carolyn said...

I love the reflection of the cypress trees in the water. Your pictures are beautiful and showcase our wonderful southern treasures. Looking forward to the rest of the trip!

nanny said...

Beautiful shots....I love the reflections in the water.
Those turtles are hanging on...isn't that amazing?