There is a place of magic and mystery that straddles the Northern East Texas and Louisiana border. It’s a lake, of sorts, though once you’ve reached its depths it is more akin to a swampland where it’s difficult to tell where the lake ends and the wetlands begin. Cyprus trees grow tall throughout with knees that poke up through the water looking for a breath of fresh air.
Gray, curly mosses hang long and gingerly from their limbs like the hair of an old witch, waiting to entangle you. This is not a place to drop in the jet ski and see how fast you can go before flying off. The trees create waterways and little paths that are perfect to tuck into with a canoe or small John boat, where one can sit and observe nature, often without seeing another soul pass by.
As you wind your way deeper into the thick of this forested body of water, you start to notice a green vegetation (Giant Salvinia) that floats on the water that eventually gets thicker and thicker; so thick that it makes paddling arduous. In places, this blanket of water-logged weeds almost looks like a picturesque meadow where once lay open water. The beauty of this floating field, however, is fleeting; it doubles in size every two to four days, choking out life beneath the surface of the water. The magnificence of its vastness isn’t worth the damaging effects of the seemingly delicate green ruffles of this invasive species.
The paddling trails eventually take you by the residential portion of the lake, the shore acting as a curb to this watery suburb. The houses are not your typical overbuilt, fancy lake houses that oft adorn lakeshores within a day trip of a major city; while some boast all the trimmings, you get the feeling that many of the homeowners actually live here permanently.
Continuing on the trails you eventually come upon a gauntlet of sorts the locals call “The Cathedral,” where a whole stand of Cyprus trees stand tall and proud in natural rows, with little else poking through the surface of the water that could otherwise be called its “forest floor.” The sunlight dances through the leaves, leaving a repetitious cascade of shadow and light. It makes one think what this place of wonder is like on a gray, misty day, leaving only to the imagination what may lurk below its watery depths.