Friday, June 16, 2017

Coffee and Cropdusting on a Bayou Morning

Welcome to a Cajun Country morning.

Our son's home just outside Patterson Louisiana (The Cypress Capital of the World) lies on three beautiful acres about a hundred feet from Bayou Teche, the meandering waterway made famous by James Lee Burke's novels.

As bayous go, it is rather long - 125 miles.  It begins in Port Barre, about 25 miles north of Lafayette. From there it flows southwest about 5 miles before making a looping turn east to snake its way toward Breaux Bridge.  If you want to take a scenic ride, LA31 tracks the bayou from halfway around that looping turn, almost to New Iberia.  At New Iberia The Teche turns east southeast, accompanied by LA182 - The Old Spanish Trail - until it empties into the Atchafalaya River about 5 miles from the house.

We spend mornings at the house sitting on the screened porch  in back with the view of the Teche you see above.

 Most of yesterday morning a crop duster worked the many acres of sugarcane across 182 in front of the house.  The plane made its turns over the Teche not many feet above the cypress at the edge of the bayou. Though I'm not in love with the thought of the toxic stuff that emanates from the many nozzles under its belly when it sprays the field, the maneuvers as it blanketed the cane field fascinated me.

I watched every time it flew over the roof dipped its wing for the hard turn above the Teche. Then I hurried to the corner of the house to watch the plane drop so close that its landing wheels nearly touched the tips of the cane as it turned on the spray.  At the end of its return pass, the plane accelerated and climbed sharply to clear the trees in the front yard then leveled off for its 180 over the Teche and began its descent for the next round.

The work was repetitive, much like mowing hay in a field, only with the extra parameters of altitude and wind.  One wonders if it's possible to zone out, to let body memory take over as in mowing hay, while the mind goes elsewhere. Perhaps the pilot imagines doing strafing runs against a sugarcane army.

I tried to get a picture of the plane as it passed overhead because it looked kind of old.  Here's the best one I could get -


Not good but it was clear enough for me to do a little research on the craft.  

Here's Grumman's photo - it's an  Ag-cat G-164B.

With it's maiden flight in 1957, it was the first plane developed specifically for agricultural use.  That made the machine flying overhead 60 years old.  

Time to get some breakfast.