Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Tribute to "The Land of the Sugarcane"

I believe it's been a while since I composed a full-out, poetic, belle of the bayou type entry. While I'm not sure these things can be planned exactly, by golly, today I hope to try. I am of the thought that those heart-wrenching, truly thought-provoking blogs really evolve out of inspiration rather than cognitive forethought, so we'll see what happens.

This morning I found myself on yet another plane—east, this time—heading back toward a place that is, though geographically only 1,000 miles away, a world apart in more ways than one. As I settled in for what has become a familiar ride, I cracked open a book in hopes of occupying my thoughts for the short trip. I'm no newcommer to flying, unlike many of the fellow guests who occupy the cramped space on this tiny regional get. I always crack a smile at the first-time fliers who have thousands of questions about this exciting, yet overwhelming, experience. It's always particularly interesting when traveling outbound from Lafayette, as so many of the locals rarely travel by plane...or by any mass transit, for that matter.

Today, this particular experience placed a bit of inspiration on my blogging heart. The book I happen to be reading is titled Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana. While I'm not sure that “outsiders,” can truly understand the poetic stories featured in this work, I find myself engrossed in the fairytales that are so familiar to me. I think, it should be required reading for friends of our dear Cajuns, to study (formally or informally) the heritage and culture of the Acadian people. It sounds strange, but I just feel as though there's no way to truly understand who we are and what we do, without such knowledge.

But back to my story. For the last month, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend time in the lovely place that I call home. Cajun Country, Acadiana, South Louisiana – however you choose to name it, it's still home to me. Even as I sit here, composing this entry after reading a very flowy and descriptive text, I find it challenging to provide readers with an accurate and complete picture of my homeland. Ask those who have visited – words just cannot do it justice.

The food, the people, their love for life and never-ending excuses for celebration. All of it. As I read about drive-through daiquiri shops, dirty politics (dirtier than our rice—I promise), stormy weather, ornately costumed drunkards in expected and acceptable brawls, as well as opposition to all things fancy and anti-cultural, I realized that the Cajun culture would forever be a part of me. While I have not yet signed up to spend the rest of my life within a 3 hour radius of “The Heart of Acadiana” (Lafayette), there is no mistaking that I will forever be Cajun—in heart, body, and soul.

To those of you who have visited, and even those who haven't, I want to extend a very special invitation. You are always welcome to come along for the ride, albeit a wild one, to “the end of the earth”--both literally and figuratively. Come, we'll drive to edge...where the road ends and water begins. We'll eat good food and drink merrily. We'll meet joyful, exuberant friends, and you'll leave with a sense of family. For those who come, never forget. And those who stay, will always be home.

I'll leave you with a philosophy for life, inspired by the people of Avery Island, Louisiana, home of world-famous Tobasco sauce: “When your sugar is wiped out by the enemy, do something creative with your salt. Protect the birds in your own back yard first. And, oh, yes, relish the unexpected.” - Rheta Grimsely Johnson (Poor Many's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Lousiana)

"Louisiana: It's not just a state, it's a state of mind." (LYJ)
- Lauren

**Last night, I dreamed I was eaten by an alligator. Now, if that ain't Cajun, I don't know what is!

1 comment:

Justine said...

I'm visiting sometime. Thanks. Let's plan! ;)