Country Roads, Acadiana: La Boucaniere Tuesday, Oct 29 2019 

When I moved to this Cajun town in 1981, one of the most authentic small-town Cajun grocery stores replete with a specialty meat market that prepared every sort of traditional smoked meat and boudin was Johnson’s Grocery.  I adapted the tradition of going to Johnson’s on Saturday mornings to stand in the boudin line that stretched from the boudin counter in the back of the store all the way to (and sometimes out of) the front door.  Boudin was just a Saturday morning thing-to-do in these parts (and still is!), and the partakers who went to Johnsons were willing to wait in the line for 3 or 4 pounds of the red-pepper laced stuffed pork and rice dressing for which Johnson’s was renowned.

The store was run by the Johnson brothers, inherited from their father.  The boudin (and the secret recipe!) was truly a Johnson family tradition.  The only Johnson brother still living is Mr. Wallace, who was for years our across-the-alley neighbor.  The tradition of his family’s boudin and smoked meat market is maintained today by his daughter, who along with her husband runs Johnson’s Boucaniere in Lafayette.  They sell the traditional family recipe boudin and a variety of other smoked meats, including succulent pork sausage and even the exotic smoked panse bourre (stuffed stomach).

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Sarah and I posed with the Boucaniere staff, Mr. Wallace and his daughter Lori.

We visited La Boucaniere last week while we were passing through Lafayette and were delighted to find 90+ year old Mr. Wallace taking orders behind the counter as customers came in for lunch.  He was delighted to see us and parlay a little with me in his native Cajun French.  We ate some boudin and  zesty smoked meat sandwiches for lunch, mused over the vintage 1950s/60s photos from the original Johnson’s Grocery that hang on the walls of La Boucaniere as we recalled rich traditions with these fine folks, whose roots run deep into the Cajun prairie past.

On passait vraiment un agrément!

Patio-as-Workplace: The Outer Office Tuesday, Oct 22 2019 

A rainy Monday.  Grading to do!  Driving to campus in the rain to work in the office, as I typically do for grading, wasn’t an appealing prospect.  Neither did cooping myself up

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No window necessary: What a view!

inside the house with my laptop and notes spread about on the kitchen table.

Solution?  The patio!  I was skeptical at the idea at first that I wouldn’t do well with concentration—-too much back-yard distraction going on, along with the rain.

But it worked.  I found myself productive, even relaxed, more so than I would had I holed myself up in the campus office for two or three hours, because I took breaks between papers to appreciate the verdant outdoors just beyond the patio’s edge.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, right?  The patio office provided a workable compromise between work and play, so there’s no dull boy going on here.

 

Patio Dwelling: October Daze, at Last Wednesday, Oct 16 2019 

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Welcoming fall patio dwelling daze ahead!

This late summer/fall 2019 has been more brutal than any season in memory.  The 90+ temps, attended by 70+ dew points,  persisted at record-levels through September and far into October while the chilling breezes of autumn seemed trapped somewhere north of Mason-Dixon.

A strong front visited last week, and another one breezed through today.  The weatherman’s long range prediction shows a more hopeful outlook for autumn weather as we move farther into the season.

How long we’ve waited for such days!

 

US 190: The Highway Home Friday, Oct 11 2019 

The highway home, in either direction!   Consider these curious coincidences of cartography:

US190Growing up in Covington, our house was on US 190, West 21st Ave., the business route right through the middle of town.

At the same time I was going to high school in the 1960s in Covington, a little Cajun girl was growing up in her family’s house on West Laurel Avenue, US190 in Eunice, about 150 miles to the west.  (We were living “across the street,” more or less—-her house was on the north side of 190, my house on the south.)

And so we were married just one block off US190 at the First Baptist Church of Eunice.  Our house is no longer directly on US 190, but we still live in Eunice: This fabled highway in our family lore remains the east/west route in and out of our lives.

But there’s more.  US190 continues to run like an asphalt thread through our lives, for our son’s Edward Jones office and his family life are now rooted in Huntsville, Texas, where the major east/west thoroughfare in and out of town is, of course, US 190!

So from my family home in Covington, 150 miles west to Eunice, and 200 miles farther west to Huntsville:  US 190 leads home, in either direction.

 

Country Roads, Acadiana: Spanish Moss Saturday, Oct 5 2019 

We attended a picturesque outdoor wedding last week on the shores of Lake Peigneur in Vermilion Parish.  The sun set along the lake as the wedding ceremony unfolded: a vintage South Louisiana scene!

IMG_0495Among the striking visual features of the setting, the Spanish Moss flowing from the sprawling Live Oak branches reminded me of the Louisiana Gulf Coast of my youth.  Spanish Moss was so common years ago.  Old-timey Cajuns would collect the moss as a commercial commodity and use it for household purposes, such as mattress stuffing.  As children, we would gather the moss and use the strands for play.   Spanish Moss was quite useful, for instance, as a funny fake beard for either a child’s Halloween costume or a life-like scarecrow to scare the birds away from the tomato patch.

Owing probably to air quality and pollution issues, Spanish Moss today is much rarer across South Louisiana than it was years ago.  Like so many traditions and artifacts of our childhood that are disappearing for environmental reasons, we’re reminded that we are stewards of the planet and that nature’s loss easily becomes a cultural loss.

Here’s to country roads, here’s to Acadiana, and here’s to Spanish Moss:  May we thrive!