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Louisiana revisited: At Point of the Dog, blue crabs are scarce, so it's time to buy crawfish

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3 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Sr. head shot Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe
I thought of the color of Russell Dardar Sr.’s eyes, an Indian friend of the Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe, who I was on my way to see. Photo by Katie Oxford
13 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 A sign good to see
Finally, I reached the narrow little bridge, glad to see that the sign was still there. Unchanged. Photo by Katie Oxford
4 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Sr. sitting
I found Russell just where we’d met three years ago. Photo by Katie Oxford
2 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell’s aunt Nattie Burnet
Russell’s aunt, Nattie Burnet, working head down, planting a new garden.  Photo by Katie Oxford
9 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Skiff boat
The skiff, across the street and next to his house, still sat in the weeds. Photo by Katie Oxford
5 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Jr. and Russell Dardar Sr.
Russell Dardar Jr., left, and Russell Dardar Sr. Photo by Katie Oxford
1 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Lousiana Revisited dock river
“Crabbin’ is bad,” Russell said. “They said it was going to be good, but it’s not.” Photo by Katie Oxford
12 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Those in charge sign
I made a note to check out the sign but later, thinking that it had less to do with ecology and more with politics. Maybe I was wrong. Photo by Katie Oxford
3 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Sr. head shot Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe
13 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 A sign good to see
4 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Sr. sitting
2 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell’s aunt Nattie Burnet
9 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Skiff boat
5 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Russell Dardar Jr. and Russell Dardar Sr.
1 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Lousiana Revisited dock river
12 Katie Louisiana Revisited part 3 April 2013 Those in charge sign
News_Katie Oxford_hair cut_column mug_head shot

Editor's Note: In 2010, Katie Oxford filed a series of riveting columns from the heart of the Gulf oil spill disaster. She recently returned to Louisiana. This is her third column in a series.

In Galliano, Louisiana, on March 25th, the wind came steady and strong. 30 mph, I estimated.
 
The cloudless sky was so blue that I thought of the ocean. Upside down. Also, the color of Russell Dardar’s eyes, an Indian friend of the Pointe-Au-Chien Indian Tribe, who I was on my way to see.  
 
Russell, Tribal member #187, lives in Montegut. More specifically, in a place called Point of the Dog or Point of the Oaks depending on whom you talk to. In Russell’s view, it’s Point of the Dog.  Mine too. 
 
 I took the top down, slid another Don Henley into the CD player and sang solid from Lafourche Parish to Terrebonne. Louisiana makes me happy.   
From the Holiday Inn Express in Galliano, the drive is about an hour and one that I remembered as sheer bliss. Especially, when traveling through the little town of Bourg. Pronounced as in iceberg.  
 
I took the top down, slid another Don Henley into the CD player and sang solid from Lafourche Parish to Terrebonne. Louisiana makes me happy.  
 
Along the way, I noticed that the Cajun Country Store had closed but the Exxon Station near the Klondyke water tower was still a bustle. Leaving Bourg, I made the last turn onto Hwy 665 and soon came to a new paved road with signage. Ecological Restoration Services. I made a note to check it out but later, thinking that it had less to do with ecology and more with politics, I passed.  Maybe I was wrong.
 
Finally, I reached the narrow little bridge, glad to see that the sign BIENVENU POINTE-AU-CHIEN INDIAN TRIBE COMMUNITY was still there. Unchanged. That a wooden pier nearby, once rotten, now looked as new as a baby’s butt.
 
A new season 
 
Just before reaching Russell’s house, I saw a threesome working diligently outside and, as so often happens, I was compelled to pull over. Come to find out, two were Mary Verdin and Russell’s aunt, Nattie Burnet. All worked head down, planting a new garden. When I asked Mary what they were putting in, she answered, “Plenty.” Indeed, and all sitting pretty. Zucchini, butter beans, green bean, cucumbers and more in the prettiest dirt I’d ever seen. Dirt so clean you could eat off of it.  
 
A few minutes later, I found Russell just where we’d met three years ago. The skiff, across the street and next to his house, still sat in the weeds. Waiting for attention. Screaming, water.  
 
 Russell explained that the crabs were different in quantity and in quality. For every dozen crabs he used to catch in a cage, now there are three. Maybe.  
This time, Russell smiled when I approached him and I was glad. As we settled on a wooden bench, I noticed that he moved a little carefully. He explained that his back was down due to a previous injury. That taking the boat out on such a windy day as this one wouldn’t be too good. I understood and quickly explained that it wasn’t necessary anyway. That I’d come to see how he was doing.
 
Russell reported that this time of year, as things warm up, he runs crab traps.
 
“How’s it going?” I asked.
 
“Crabbin’ is bad,” Russell answered.  “They said it was going to be good but it’s not.”
 
“Who’s they?”  
 
“Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries,” he replied, adding, “If this is good, I’d hate to see bad.”
 
Russell explained that the crabs were different in quantity and in quality. For every dozen crabs he used to catch in a cage, now there are three. Maybe. Then, he checks for quality. Nowadays, according to Russell, a good catch is when you get three crabs in a cage that you can keep. “And I’m the one catchin’a lot,” he chuckled.   
 
Adding to loss, there’s also frustration. For example, Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries is conducting a study on the blue crab. Problem is, Russell pointed out, “You can’t get the form to fill out to tell them what they want to know!” Go figure.
 
In Russell’s community, they used to enjoy crab boils five times a week, he told me. Shrimp boils. Oyster, too. Last year, they had one or two. This year? “Not one yet,” Russell said.
 
Good Friday was fast approaching, and I wondered how his family was celebrating it. Russell looked down at his white rubber boots (shrimpers’ boots) and made a smile. “Everybody’s gotta eat crab on Good Friday,” he paused, “but this year, I think my brother-in-law’s buying some crawfish.”  
 

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