Despite all our careful plans, the natural world is beyond our control. The Mississippi River, leveed and engineered, nevertheless misbehaves, year after year. In the past half-decade, we’ve seen four years of record droughts and floods.
Alongside this famous river is a landscape largely unknown—“the batture,” it’s called, the muddy woods between the levee and the river. It’s the leftovers, half domesticated and half wild, that remain after our centuries-long attempt to wrest the river into control.
Some think it’s a no man’s land. But people are out there. Fishermen continue the generations-old tradition of working its waters. Bargemen stare at its banks for thirty days at a time, never leaving their floating fortresses. Scientists measure its disappearing habitats. Engineers still attempt to corral its waters’ flows.
I called the batture the "walled-in wild," and for six weeks this spring, it will be my home. In our Anthropocene era, its story matters more than ever.
Banner image photography courtesy of Rory Doyle.