As Maya has noted, Rayne, Louisiana is the renowned City of Frogs. We actually knew nothing about it until we pulled off the highway in search of coffee and were immediately assailed by frog statues, frog murals, and frog memorabilia at every turn, memorial to the days when this city exported as much as 10,000 pounds of frog legs in a week, mostly to France. The market seems to have dropped off or moved elsewhere, but locals still reminisce about trapping frogs in the nearby swamps as children, selling them for a quarter each at a holding pond just off main street, and heading across to spend their spoils at the now shuttered theater.
The Rayne Courthouse
of course, the local newspaper offices.
The Rayne Police Station.
And here’s the large scale sculpture greeting new arrivals to town. The plaque details that this image of “Monsieur Jacques”, left unpainted for “various reasons”, now signified that beneath our skin we were all the same (brushed steel, presumably). The bible is cited: “Not a flesh is the same, but there is one kind for human beings, another kind of flesh for birds, and another for fish.” (Corinthians 15:09)
The sole mural with not an amphibian in view.
As a slight aside, here’s the RV camp in which we camped for the night a little ways west of Baton Rouge and just before driving to Rayne. As I snapped this memento, a resident advised me “Get a good picture, it’ll all be under water in a few days”, tapping the new metallic false leg he’d only just recieved as replacement for the limb he’d lost during Katrina. He was referring to the impending opening of the Morganza Spillway to divert floodwaters away from New Orleans and into a supposedly uninhabited flood plain to the south and east. Contrast these grim prospects with the assurances of a few New Orleans residents we spoke with: that anyone in the Morganza had known exactly what they were getting into if they leased farming or mineral rights, and that comparatively few would be affected anyway. Now, as far as I can tell, flooding has not in fact reached so far inland as that RV Park, but that says nothing of the tens of thousands of homes that were placed at risk. These, apparently, are the trade-offs necessary to protect many many more people from another Katrina scenario. I’ve been unable to find much sound information on the outcomes for these homes, but I’m hoping that the silence indicates the best, and that the region has not been entirely returned to the frogs.
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