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Three years ago, perhaps you saw the bizarre and wonderful viral video in which a small flock of about two dozen wild turkeys stalked in continuous circles around a dead cat in the middle of a suburban street.
At first glance, filled with the bright blooms and lyrical birdsong of early spring, Caddo Mounds State Historic Site seems a place of endless peace, inhabited only by the beauty of nature and the whispers of its rich and ancient past.
The great cypress swamp is lovely, dark, and deep. There is no debating this. The wildly intricate and critter-infested maze of bayous, lakes, ponds, sloughs, and interconnected channels known as Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou is one of the country’s most spectacular nature shows. It contains arguably the most diverse collection of species in Texas. The place has a mystical feel, too, an impression enhanced by the ghostly Spanish moss that drapes the trees, by the cypress roots known as “knees” that rise from the swirling mists like Excalibur in the Arthurian legend, by the lily pads with lotus flowers that spread everywhere and suggest Celtic fairylands.
Anglers and paddlers, rejoice: Caddo Lake is back.
Once largely overrun by giant salvinia, a highly invasive aquatic fern, the lake has benefited from a combination of freezing weather last winter and the release of more than 200,000 salvinia-munching weevils—the same kind that keep salvinia in check in the noxious weed’s native Brazil, the Marshall News Messenger reports.
Two hours into my canoeing adventure on Caddo Lake, I saw an osprey swoop down into the water and emerge with a fish clutched in its beak. I was debating whether the raptor would stick around long enough for me to pull out my binoculars when an enterprising bald eagle suddenly appeared and struck the osprey in mid-air. The osprey tumbled but managed to keep the fish, and then flew higher. My group watched in wonder as the two magnificent birds circled one another over the lake’s cypress forest for several minutes.
Every Texan should experience the primordial mystery of Caddo Lake State Park. With its ghostly, century-old cypress trees draped with gray-green Spanish moss, cozy cabins built in the 1930s, and a history that encompasses pearl hunting and steamboating, a Caddo getaway works efficiently to re-set your perspective.