The Bayou

I was honored to have this photo essay of a trip back to my cajun roots with my dad and son featured on TRIAD Magazine last month. If you haven’t had a chance to spend some time over there, it would be good for your soul… promise.

I wanted to share it here as well because it has a special place in my heart and heritage.

Bayou01 Bayou02 As a kid, I can remember packing up our small flat-bottom boat with my dad for a little evening trip to the river. We would fill a small ice chest with a few Cokes, some Ritz Crackers + Cheese Wiz, and usually throw in a small fishing net for good measure. After dousing ourselves with sufficient amounts of DEET to ward off the mammoth mosquitoes that serve as armed guards for the Southeast Texas bayous, we would make the short trek down the road to the boat launch.

Within about five minutes, we would be transported to another world. Away from the hissing sounds of the highway, things are much slower on the bayou. Your senses are awakened to sounds that you rarely hear… birds screeching… dragon flies buzzing by… random fish grazing the surface of the water before plummeting back down. Water moves at a crawling pace, and if you’re lucky and patient, you’ll just may find yourself eye to eye with an alligator as it slowly peeks above the surface.

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Almost all of my family has roots in this small part of the world. An area that is soaked in culture that is intimately tied to the water.

As we would putter along in the boat, my dad always made a point of reminding me that my Great-Grandfather helped float cypress logs down those narrow canals many years ago. “Oh… and that little bayou over there… that’s where I used to come with my grandfather when I was a kid to fish. It’s amazing how some things don’t change back here”, he would say.

One of the many things I am thankful for in my life is the heritage that I have. Something deep inside my soul stirs around when I sit on the front of that little flat-bottom boat and drift through those bayous. I see the bearded cypress trees with their Spanish Moss gently moving in the wind, and I start thinking about the people that have gone before me. The ones that had similar blood running through their veins as myself and who floated along the same bayous many many years before I.

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When I brought my wife and kids back home recently, I was once again hit with this nostalgia overload. This time, it was my oldest boy wearing an oversized baseball cap helping his Papa load up that same old boat. We were careful not to leave home without the Cokes, but as people and times change, the Cheese Wiz did not make the journey.

As we began weaving around the maze of little bayous that evening, my soul was filled as I listened to my dad once again recall those same old stories to my boy, as if he was telling them for the first time. A heritage being passed down unknowingly to an eight year old from his grandfather.

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Contax 645 / Fuji 400H and Canon 1V / Kodak Portra 400 // Indie Film Lab

 

A Tribute To A Great Artist | Charles Stagg

With a heavy heart, today I reflect on the life of a great artist, mentor, friend and uncle.

My uncle, Charles Stagg, passed away earlier this morning.

I grew up living across the street from him. As a boy, I was always intrigued by this mysterious man. He was definitely different than most people in our small southeast Texas town. He thought deeply about things, lived secluded in the woods without electricity in a home that was a constantly evolving work of art that he built right out of the dirt, and listed to NPR on his little radio. I used to wonder what kind of person would just listen to people talking in monotone voices all day long… now, I’m kind of an NPR junkie myself, and I see what the draw was.

I was always inspired by my uncle. A man that spent his life literally piecing sticks together to make art. Pioneering a form of art that a lot of people probably looked at and thought was somewhat a joke, but will no doubt be looked at and remembered as greatness for years to come.

I only hope to aspire to be as thoughtful of an artist as he was… leaving a mark on the world through what can be seen and beheld.

I will indeed miss having rather uncommon conversations with him and seeing what new thing he had put his hand to. I’m thankful that somewhere swimming around in my blood are bits of hippie that link us together.

May his work and legacy live on.