Monday, February 11, 2008

Letting the cold in

Our Louisiana parish (read "county") of East Baton Rouge voted Saturday to approve the construction of its third casino resort, this one a 540 acre development to include a 100 room hotel, a river boat gambling venue and a 3,700 space parking lot.

All of it will go in about a mile north of this field, which lies south of our border with Iberville Parish:

The landscape surrounding the coming casino is still rural. I took a tour on Saturday afternoon, riding the River Road along the Mississippi levee and passing a series of small horse and cattle farms and mostly-rustic ranch houses. The few newly erected megahomes hint at the proximity of this area to the city proper and its burgeoning desirablity as a suburb of Baton Rouge.

Our local casino vote was a referendum on more than the fate of propety values or "family values" or crime or traffic or tax revenue. It was a last chance to dodge, for a time, a particular kind of bullet. In this case, too few of us leaped away or else too many of us leaped in its path. Looking at the property now, as I do each time I drive past it to my hawking field, I'm reminded of a story by Jim Fergus (from A Hunter's Road) in which he observes that bird shot spills a grouse's life-sustaining heat as well as its blood; but that it seems to him the reverse occurs. The hunter's shot lets the cold in.

Looking now at the Google Map of my house, and south along the River Road to what will become "The Riviere" resort and further to a certain gorgeous plot of pasture land, I can't help but see a body into which the cold is quickly streaming.

Hat tip to Talking Pictures via Pluvi for a related story on what it means to lose the ground beneath your feet.

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