Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine included a piece by Nathaniel Rich on nature’s apparent upper hand in the Lower Ninth Ward. Rich, a writer based in New Orleans, read as part of the Room 220 Live Prose at the Antenna Gallery reading series last November.
Here’s an excerpt from “Jungleland“:
“My neighbor just saw a little family of coons parading across the street,” said Don Porter, who lives south of Claiborne Avenue, in one of the more occupied areas of the neighborhood. There are four houses on his block, and only two are vacant. “And you see rabbit,” he said. “You see egrets. Pelicans.”
“A raccoon climbs on top of our roof,” said Terry Jacko, 23, who stood with his brother Terrence, 19, in the front yard of their Reynes Street house. “It’s huge. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a dude.”
“I saw a possum in the backyard the other day,” Terrence said. “Its teeth were about this big. I killed it with a stick. It was coming toward me, so I hit him. He just flipped over. I stayed inside after that.”
There have been sightings of armadillos, coyotes, owls, hawks, falcons and even a four-foot alligator, drinking from a leaky fire hydrant. Rats have been less of a problem lately because of the stray cats and the birds of prey. But it’s not just animals that emerge from the weeds. “Sometimes I see people coming out of there,” Terrence said, pointing at the ruins of two houses, shrouded in weeds, across the street. “They’re trying to get in my home.”
Read the entire article here.