Friday, September 26, 2008

Allons a Lafayette et laissez les bons temps rouler!

In a few hours, I'll be on the road to my 30th high school reunion. I went to the 20th, but somehow it wasn't the same as this one. This one seems to be deeper, more meaningful somehow. Over the past month, I have reconnected with friends, and with that time of my life - forgotten snapshots of a life lived thirty years ago.

I could go on and on telling stories. Stories about being a canoe guide in the Atchafalaya Basin - leading groups of folks down the Fausse Point Cut, with a short portage across to Lake Gravenburg, then slipping silently deep into the swamp. Winding through the cypress trees and knees into the backwaters of Buffalo Cove. Have you ever seen clear black water? It's black from the tannic acids released by the cypress. Water that's smooth as silk, sometimes choked with the alien water hyacinth, sometimes coated with a green blanket of tiny two-leafed duck weed, sometimes open black water...

I could talk about the mouth-watering foods - crawfish boils, cochon du laits (pig roasts), boudin sausage, my ex-grandma's rolls that she baked in a cast iron frying pan, beignets, and on and on...so much good food there...

I could talk about my time as a weekend sawyer - felling thirty inch diameter, one hundred foot tall pine trees in the forest to build a log cabin...

I could talk about my solo backpacking trips into the Kisatchie National Forest, getting lost once in the darkening night, sleeping under a bush in the rain...vowing never to forget my map and compass again...

I could talk about my short time as a nuisance nutria trapper...

I could talk about paddling my canoe around the neighborhood lake every day after school, contemplating my universe...and killing cottonmouths and copperheads with a swift and silent blow from my Clément paddle...I loved that paddle...

I could talk about walking around the neighborhood during a hurricane, wearing waders and a slicker, carrying a shovel to clear debris out all the culvert pipes...

I could talk about the creosote burns I got all over my torso one hot summer - creosote splattered from the pounding of boards with a sledge hammer - driving them into the soft, squishy, stinky black mud to build a bulkhead along the lake...

I could talk about the now fading memories of friends from those days...

I could talk about it all...for a long time...but I have to get some sleep...

So I will just say this...

Beautiful memories...

An accordion solo :: Allons a Lafayette ::


From a documentary on Cajun Music ::


And another featuring Nathan Abshire and the Pine Grove Boys performing "ma negresse" :: with a short clip at the end of "Allons a Lafayette"


And finally, more Nathan Abshire with a slide show of crawfish boil images ::


More :: A great indie film :: Shultze Gets the Blues :: about a German accordionist who discovers cajun music and makes a pilgrimage to the Bayou country

4 comments:

Red Shoes said...

Oh, what I wouldn't give for a proper crawfish boil right about now...funny you should talk like this just now, when yesterday I was trolling youtube for videos of Rebirth leading the second-liners through the streets...

I was a city dweller in Louisiana, but I have seen clear black water--I've seen crawfish scuttling up the knees as the boat passed by.

Aren't you lucky to have such beautiful memories?

n a n c y said...

Is it true nutria tastes ' just like chicken'?

Alex said...

I never ate the meat...it would be like eating a rat...albeit a very large (40lb) one...I strung them up to bleed them (at the extreme displeasure of the neighbors)...skinned them...and then stretched tanned the hides...the fur is kinda like mink...but the coarse guard hairs are more prevalent...and blonde highlights...

MS Suzy Vegas said...

Man you really are C19th man - in the best possible way. You really need to be doing the E. Annie Proulx thing with your memories rather than Post-it-noting them here...