The Birds on Crooked Bayou: Who Owns the Land?

Cherry Winche Creek_thumb

I’ve been reacquainting myself with the land where my roots are deepest.

It’s been neat walking the fire lanes and fence rows that make up the end of Clayton Iles Road.

Towering pine near my parent's home.
Towering pine near my parent’s home.

I’m renewing friendships with the summer birds of Louisiana.  They are so different from Africa.  I’d nearly forgotten what a unique singer the Mockingbird is; how bright red a Cardinal is; the grating wonderful call of a bluejay.

This Dry Creek sojourn has also been a reminder that we don’t own land.

It seems to own us.


The trees on our family homestead are alive with Summer Tanagers.
The trees on our family homestead are alive with Summer Tanagers.

The quote below, from Margorie Kinnan Rawlings, is a favorite:

“Who owns Cross Creek? The red-birds, I think, more than I, for they will have their nests even in the face of delinquent mortgages.

It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed, but not bought.

It may be used, but not owned.

It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers, and not masters.

Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time…”  

-Margorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


Sydney Iles along Wagnon Estate land line.
Sydney Iles along Wagnon Estate land line.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullest thereof . . . “

I’ve always loved looking at land abstracts, tracing ownership back through generations.  It’s an educational way to learn about the settling of western Louisiana.

I found the following letter in my dad’s historical file.  Daddy, I’m so glad you saved this.  DeDe and I laughed out loud while reading it.  It is written in pure legalese with a bit of Louisiana tongue-in-cheek.

Enjoy “And the Lord God made Louisiana.”

A wonderful legal description of the historic ownership of Louisiana land. I believe it covers all of the bases.


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