Prairie Ronde, Louisiana, is not a town.  It’s a rural Cajun “place” centered around the confluence of three or four winding roads and secondary state highways in the general proximity of the middle of nowhere, or at least it must seem so to outsiders, especially city folks.  The community sprawls along those roadsides for several miles in at least three different directions.  I passed through Prairie Ronde today and decided this view was too rich to ignore.

Consider these remarkable icons of life in Acadiana that come together in this photo:

  • the water tower, a source of sustenance, presiding over the landscape, proclaiming “Prairie Ronde.”
  • the solitary Oak rising from the prairie, spreading branches perhaps symbolic of the branches of families interred in the cemetery below, perhaps also evoking images of the Live Oak Walt Whitman “saw in Louisiana growing, uttering joyous leaves of friendship” during the days of the Civil War.
  • the venerated Saint Mary, her statue fixed squarely in the approach to the church entrance, strikes an unavoidable presence as she solemnly greets parishioners on their way to mass.
  • the very Catholic church, another source of life in these people’s world view . . . hardly a Cathedral, but nonetheless a substantial building where generations of Prairie Rondians were christened, catechized, wed, and groomed for eternity.
  • and finally, the cemitiere in the yard alongside the church, where the mortal remains of those same generations are laid to rest, their whitewashed tombs monuments to the sturdy people that tilled the prairie soil to eek out their subsistence.

Yep, it’s a picture that invites poetry–symbolic objects commingling themes of life, death, faith, and eternity.   Maybe I’ll write a poem one day about Prairie Ronde.  Meanwhile, I’ll just blog it.

Here’s to Prairie Ronde and other off-the-beaten-path places like it.