Louisiana Lagniappe

Well, we are back. And Susan Harwood is right, it is the land of myth and story. It's not for the faint of heart, or the vegetarian. Or the PETA supporter. But it has its own elixir that beckons and delights. On the evening of our arrival, as we drove down Highway 22, the fog was so opaque it was all but indistinguishable from the Spanish moss that hung from the oaks. We crept along, and signs would appear out of the mist, highlighting different aspects of the country we were entering: signs pointing to Rosaryville, signs advertising pirogue rentals (swamp boat), wayside pulpits by the truckload, signs for live bait and fried catfish. The swamps were full of thick, sluggish water and tupelo trees that were already gray-limbed and barren. The gators were all down in the mud, so we didn't see any in situ, only poor ole' Hardhide, who looked bored and irritable in his cement pond, the westbound train rattling past every few hours. G tried to entertain him by getting her finger stuck in the small gauge chicken wire surrounding his pond; she obligingly cried and wailed, and he looked like he might have perked up for a minute, but then B gave said digit a yank and the moment passed. I thought it was nice of her.
My neck was hugged by countless cousins on Thanksgiving Day, a humid day when the tables heaved with food, the turkey was deep-fried and the mosquitoes were sluggish with our blood.
I learned many things, and collected many stories, which I hope eventually to share here.
The whole week was amazing and bizarre and surprisingly full of sweet moments, literally (strawberry-filled beignets covered in mounds of powdered sugar) and figuratively (B's cousin casually tells us after dinner, "Y'all should come outside, there's something very interesting in the front." We dutifully file outside, I'm expecting some sort of critter: gator or swamp rat, but instead from around the side of the house comes a child-size ATV driven by a barefoot 3 year old, G is hanging onto her neck from behind and hollerin' at us, a huge grin on her face. They speed past us, wheels churning in the muddy clay.)
The racism was always there, just under the surface; although it did seem a little deeper under the surface than the last time I was there. Someone brought his black friend to the Thanksgiving celebration, something B said he had never seen before. B's mom drove us through her childhood neighborhood which included what had been the black school in her day. B's ancient and lovely Aunt Bernice taught in rural Louisiana from the 30's until the 70's. I asked her about desegregation and she told me some tales, voice lowered as if we were talking about something not quite nice. And apparently Obama won because, "all those black people voted for him." I'll try to share more stories when I get a chance.
A Family On The Verge
Unfortunately I am on the verge of a cold, as well as being on the verge of an Advent Party this weekend. Not to mention on the verge of a baby, next May. B is on the verge of a play that he is way heavily involved in, it opens next week. I don't know what G is on the verge of, besides literacy and then running for public office (actually, we're holding her back from that until she's at least 5.)

Oh, and visit Susan's Advent Blog! Pictures for Advent
And tell her Rosa sent you.


Blessed said...

thank you for posting what i hope will be the first of many musings about your trip. in the meantime, here is a little bit of Christmas cheer i wanted to share with you and your readers. : )


hope the link works!


jessica said...

certainly an interestingly enjoyable thanksgiving. when thinking of several states in the general vicinity of Louisiana and swamps with raised roads with dilapidated timber houses come to mind, though this skewed vision is just that, little and skewed (I blame tim burton and big fish for this, even though alabama is separated from louisiana by a whole state). i'd never heard of a beignet, and i now wish i hadn't as i so crave one/some/a massive plateful Louisiana no longer seems so far away.


Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.