Friday, December 31, 2010

The Eve

Wildly anticipating 2011. My hopes are for a year of doing whatever makes me happy. Not quite sure what that will be because I normally don't plan ahead but my bucket list might look like this.
1. Travel
2. Photography Time
3. Home renovations
4. Peaceful wanderings

Looks like a beautiful start to me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Golden Sunrise

The sky shimmered with onyx, garnet and golds as the rays peaked throught the cypress cove. It was 4:30 a.m. and I sat there just waiting for the cool mist to come in with the sunrise. I've always heard the old saying that as the sun rises the temperture drops a few degrees and it really did feel that way on the Lake. For a few minutes I observed this beautiful landscape. It was like an unexpected gift, actually like a feeling of being blesssed just to be in this spot for this little while.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Visit

This morning I said good bye to the Mountain Magnolia as she boarded her plane back to her Rocky Mountain home. As I drove home my thoughts returned to this weekend's trip out to Lake Faussey Point. At some point in time I'll have to sit down and try to put all the pieces of our conversation into their proper places. We had planned way to much travel and not enough sitting on the porch time. Then our discussions were of the why of things. Why so much times passes between our visits. You know what happened to our well meaning plans. Nature happened. This beautiful landscape just pulled us in and we sat and talked and shared our lives. And she reminisced about her beautiful child hood home and I was grateful for the chance to just sit and enjoy our friendship.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekend on the Cove

Planning a camping trip into the Atchaflaya basin can be a difficult task. You just can't forget anything. Running out of just about anything takes a drive back into town to resupply so I am carefully making a list and checking it twenty times. Canoe\ Fire Wood\ Ice chest\ Crawfish Etoufee\ Rum\ Makers Mark/ Hoodie\ I Pod \ That should just about cover all the necessary items. Watching a roaring fire while sitting on the dock listening to some blues music after returning from a canoe trip into the Cove sounds perfect to me. Did I mention the black pot of crawfish etoufee simmering on the camp stove. PERFECTION !

Friday, November 19, 2010

Atchafalaya Good Time Hunting Camp

As we drove down Banker road towards the levee only grey clouds filled this country landscape. Gus said, today is a good day for hunters. It seemed that every pickup truck we crossed had a four wheeler parked in its bed. This is the time of year when every father, son, brother, cousin, and uncle, heads out to a deer hunters camp on the Atchafalaya. These holy grails are situated throughout the Atchafalaya River Basin area. Their locations on a GPS list them as Buffalo Cove, Cow Island, Bayou Cocodrie, Whiskey Bay or Grand Lake just to name a few. They are as elegant as a six room lodge or as humble as a one room house boat. What ever the location it's a deer hunters dream spot for the weekend. If you could take a peak at every camp window I'm sure you'd find a black pot simmering with a seafood gumbo or a wild game stew.
After we returned home I started my own traditional first blue northerner-cold front gumbo. Chicken, Oyster, and Andouille sausage fills my own black pot. Fresh and simple with no shortcuts, its a tradition that is passed on to me by my mother. Tonight as I sit down to my own supper I'll be visualizing all of those black pots simmering on the camp stoves. Pots filled to the brim with whatever the basin can provide.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guinea Gumbo

So, fall has arrived with the first hint of what we call here in Acadiana Gumbo weather. I began making my roux at 5:00 a.m and after two hours of a slow simmer the time was just right to add the chicken and smoked meats. I heard a rooster crow in the barn yard and I thought to myself today you were lucky old man. You should have been in my pot instead of this store bought hen.

We raise Guinea Hens and they also make a wonderful gumbo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lake Martin Sunset

Not a leaf moved as the sun set. Moments before I took this shot several egrets flew past me returning from a day of feasting on crawfish in the Atchafalaya Basin. Several photographers were all waiting for just the right moment to get their perfect shot. I felt so lucky when I returned home and downloaded this raw photo of the Lake Martin sunset.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Waiting on Snow Flurries

This photograph was taken last December. Today's forcast is for cooler weather to slowly start moving into our swamps. It's just that one day its 40 then it warms back up to 80. It's the kind of Louisiana weather that makes you forget that at some point it actually will stay at 32 for a couple of days.
For the past couple of years we've actually had a covering of snow that stayed on the ground for more than a couple of hours. You read about snow days for the kids up north and then you look around at this snow covered tropical landscape and all you see are grown up with turtle neck sweaters and wool mittens. Make you wonder where those things were hiding. Don't get me wrong the humidity here can make the cold wind blowing over the swamps bone chilling. Just ask any fisherman out on Whiskey Bay. It's a love hate thing I'm sure. One thing I know for sure is that Calpernia and I won't be on Whiskey Bay when the north wind comes blowing through the cypress trees but if by some unforeseen twist of fate we were, I'd be wishing to be buried down deep in a crawfish hole waiting on spring.

This photograph is of the Acadian's mother church, St. Martin de Tours.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Mountain Magnolia's Visit

A couple of years ago a group of friends flew in from Colorado and we head out into the Atchafalaya Basin near Bayou Benoit landing in St. Martin parish. We rented a few camps at Lake Faussey Point State Park and we cooked up all the Cajun delicacy's the basin had to offer. We boiled a sack or two of crawfish and fried up some fresh catfish. We even fried a few frog legs and some alligator bites just to complete the meal. My friends are totally amazed at the beauty of the swamp and just never get enough of it. This land is such a beautiful paradise and I'm so blessed to live here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Peaceful Perch

I guess my visit’s to Lake Martin always reminds me that there is such a place that is so serene and calming that I could imagine myself living right there. Just sitting on a cypress limb perched on the edge of this rookery. The early morning light and the quietness of the swamp has such a calming affect on me that it make me want to tell every one **** life is just too short to worry about ………….no words needed, just be.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cypress Greys

It's a rainny day here in the Swamps. The cool weather is slowly moving into our area but just not quick enough for me. I'm hoping that soon this humidity will drift away and I'll be able to stir up a pot of creamy pecan candy. 100% humidity and sugar just don't mix.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Old Relic

The past couple of day I've been feeling like a bit of an old relic my self. This old hull has been left on the Bayou Portage and I really do hope it's going to be fixed up. From the looks of her she must have been a fine ride in her day. Even with her tired and weary look I can still imagine her spirit as she flew past all the camps along the levee. One of those camps was where in 1965 I spent my summer days learning to swim at the sand bars and returning to night fish on Lake Dautrieve. Well actually the fishing lasted only as long as the mosquitoes weren't around.
I remember the wonderful fried catfish we had with lots and lots of ketchup and all the hot french bread you could eat. It was kind of a ritual to have fried catfish on Friday evenings at the camp and come Saturday mornings fresh boudin for breakfast. Sunday's were saved for the BBQ Chicken, that was my daddy's' specialty. I'll be honest, I miss those days. It seems it was such a short moment in time. I really do hope some one takes this old boat and gives her another chance to float past the camps again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Early Morning at the Rookery

Decided to take a ride out to Lake Martin for the sunrise. Several people were already out on the lake fishing and paddling. This paddler asked if I had seen any alligators this morning. Not her favorite thing she told me. I completely understand I told her. Their's not much protection from a 15 footer in that little kayak. Beautiful fall colors are taking over the rookery right now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Sunrise

Driving past St. John Sugar Mill in the early morning light always gives me this haunting feeling. It’s as though I half expect to have a headless horseman cross my path on Sugar Cane highway. The orange glow silhouettes the massive oaks along the Bayou Teche, and it always makes me think of homemade Pumpkin Pie.

It’s true that the Halloween holiday is my favorite. Not so much for the witches, goblins, and pumpkin pie but mainly because fall has arrived and I know that the Cypress trees in the Atchafalaya River Basin are glowing. Most people think of South Louisiana as a subtropical landscape and for the most part it is. But come around this time of the year and you’ll find the native Cypress giving this landscape the beautiful hues of rusty reds and golden nutmeg. The reflections in the swamps would make any photographer want to spend endless hours trying to capture that pure light. I guess it’s obvious I’m longing to spend some time out their just sitting on a camp porch watching the pumpkin colored sun set on Lake Dautrieve.

Some pie would be nice to.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Swamp People

Okay! I have to admit it. It's sometimes hard to watch the reality show The Swamp People. I guess it's the Cajun's dialect that makes it hard for me to listen to. If it weren't for the beautiful scenery of the Atchafalaya River Basin I'm sure I'd channel surf over to the cooking channel. But truth be told I'm a Cajun with my own heavy accent and it won't be going anywhere, anytime soon. So as I flipped the channel away from the Swamp People I came upon Zachary Richard interviewing an Acadian woman from Nova Scotia. I listened to the sound of her voice and I understood that the Cajun French spoken by my mothers sisters on Aunt Lula's porch so long ago, had a such a beautiful musical sound when telling their stories. I know what you're thinking. (Here's your sign). You'd be so right.

So I surfed back to enjoy more of the Atchafalaya and her people and I remembered I had this picture of an Alligator harvest I photographed near Bayou Benoit in the Atchafalaya River Basin. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lake Faussey Point

This photo was taken in the early fall of 2008 on the edge of Lake Dautrieve in the parish of St. Martin. The vibrant colors just make me dream of the fall season. Gustave and I were traveling down the levee road when the filtered evening light with its amber glow caught my eye. It might seem a little strange to most people who celebrate the fall foliage, with all its glorious colors, that I make such a big thing about this photo. But down in south Louisiana with its tropical setting you are more likely to see only shades of green. As fall slowly creeps into Louisiana and the cypress trees turn a deep shade of rust, I treasure the colorful display in her swamps. Its like food for the soul.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Amelie's Nickels

My grandmother’s name was Amelie and she lived in a small Acadian house next door to my Aunt Chicks in a small little village in the Parish of Iberia. My memories of her takes me back to round rimed glasses and a flowered apron. It seems as though there was always a hand reaching towards me filled with extra nickels. Nickels she saved for my walk down the well worn path to Mr. Crips mercantile store. On many sleepovers I remember listening from my bed, in the early morning , to the ringing church bells from St. Joseph’s and the smell of strong black coffee filling her house. Some say it’s a tradition that in every Acadian home they start the day off with a good cup of coffee. Thats one tradition I've still kept to this day.

The name of my grandmothers hometown was Loreauville and back then I guess you could say it was a one light town. Even to this day it still has only one red light. Back then the soul of main street belonged to two of Amelie's daughters, Nadege who cooked bowls of southern goodness at Masso’s CafĂ©, where families gathered to have okra gumbo and crawfish etoufee, and Edith, Amelie's second oldest child, who was the proprietess of the Pool Room Saloon. Uncle George gave her plenty of room to rule the roost as they served good cold Jax beer along with interesting stories of the Atchafalaya basin. Wonderful stories that were greatly embellished as only a good Cajun storyteller can.
I treasure those memories and I really miss her.

This photograph was taken at one of my grandmothers’ birthday celebrations. It documents all of her fifteen children.
My mothers name was Pola, she was the ninth child of Amelie and Admar Breaux and she also had many stories to tell.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Memory Box

Often memories can be so selective. It’s as if I want to remember the good times and place the bad ones some where in a box labeled “Open at your own risk”. But more often than not when I begin to think of those old memories good and bad I realize they are all connected in some way. My box is filled with all them all side by side, all inter-connected.

My home town was a small village in Iberia parish. It's a place where cousins are almost too many to count and everyone is related to everyone else. Cajun nicknames are a common thread that ties everyone together. Names like T-Boy, Coocoon, Kitty, Josephine, Mut, and Papoose. Even our pets were given names like Pocketknife, the horse, Casco, the cat, or Poopay the puppy All of these names have such a loving sound to me even to this day.

Looking back one of my childhood friends will always hold a special place in my memories. As children we lived across the street from each other on a gravel road . We learned to ride bikes together and played out the stories of Wilma and Betty Flintstone as bank tellers. Their were many foot races with us trying to beat each other to the ice cream truck as it’s musical sounds filled the air. I was the chubby child and usually lost the race to my long legged friend. In my mind I remember second place rewards were just as sweet.

Yesterday a long overdue phone call to my friend brought back memories of a September birthday and waiting in line for a ride on the tilt-a-whirl at the Sugar Cane Festival. I can still see her brown hair curled around her finger as we waited in line to buy our tickets. It’s not that we were afraid that somehow we would be thrown out of the spinning top, but just having someone else in control of the off button makes you kind of wonder whose in charge of this rolling contraption anyway. But as my memories of that ride have faded into the next one and the next, that one image has some how taken hold in a corner of my mind and I revisit it from time to time.

She was the fourth daughter of Hazel and with much excitement named in honor of her daddy Rene. Today Rene’e lives in a quaint log cabin in the town of Abbeville and always has time for an old friend. She’s a sweet wonderful friend that even today makes me feel special. Our friendship has been going on for some 58 years now and when September's autumn wind blows in and it takes me back to that box of memories I’ll remember to push aside the worrisome ones and pull up the memory of the little girl with the brown curls standing next to me at the carnival.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Class of 1960

The Class of 1960 was out an about this evening and you could feel that fall was in the air. The enduring tradition of the Loreauville High Pep Rally brought back memories for me.  I can still see Dawn Lyl's pony tail swing in the breeze and feel her holding my hand as we watched the students light the fire.  This big sister had a lot on her mind , after all she was a cheerleader with plans of her own, but their I was tagging along. I must have been only about eight years old.  Today her pony tail is long gone but I still see that sparkle in her eyes and that endless facination with all things that are fun. Thats her. Thats my Joe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bayou Benoit Cove

This is an old story I think of every time I hear the wind blowing through the Cypress trees this time of year.

Bayou Benoit Cove
It seems that four o'clock is the hour of decision at my house. Should I or shouldn't I go. This morning's wind had a clip of about 20 miles per hour, and the current weather report called for stormy skies. On yesterday's trip out to the basin I noticed the wide expanse of sky surrounding a lone oak tree sitting in a sugar cane field. Some times you should trust your instincts, but I didn't and I missed a beautiful sunrise. Today's ride on Banker road offered only grey overcast clouds.

Gus said it was a good day for hunters. It seemed that every pickup truck we crossed had a four wheeler parked in its bed. This is the time of year when every father, son, brother, cousin, and uncle heads out to a deer hunters camp.. These holy grails are situated throughout the Atchafalaya Basin area. Their locations on a GPS list them as Buffalo Cove, Cow Island, Bayou Cocodrie or Grand Lake. They are as elegant as a six room lodge or as humble as a small house boat. What ever it may be its the deer hunters dream location for the weekend. Tonight every camp will be filled with the aroma of seafood gumbo or wild game stews.

After we returned home I started my own traditional first blue northerner-cold front gumbo. Chicken, Oyster, and Andouille Sausage fills my own black pot. Fresh and simple with no shortcuts, its a tradition that is passed on to me by my mother. Tonight as I sit down to supper I'll be visualizing all of those black pots simmering on the camp stoves. Pots filled to the brim with whatever the basin can provide. This is surly a hunters dream weekend in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rosemary Aromas

The aroma of rosemary filled my kitchen as this stew simmered. Earlier I read a magazine article that said first you eat with your eyes.  So true.  Just look at the texture and colors of this beef stew. Just so lucious. This was a good everyday meal. 

Homemade Pie

I was prepared for oohs and aahs but instead I recieved a lemon twist pucker.  I started with Granny Smith apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg but the orange and lemon zest changed the direction of my pie. Good but different. Theirs one sure way to make friends feel at home in your kitchen just offer them a piece of pie.  I will secretly watch for the pucker effect that this dessert gives and I'll try not to laugh out loud.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recovery Mode

We are in recovery mode here.  Gustave had triple by pass surgery exactly 10 days ago. He'd struggling  a little with his recovery but actually doing very well.  I'll post more later.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lazy River

We headed out to Bayou Portage to check on the house boat and picked up a few supplies along the way. One fifth of Makers Mark for a litlle soul tempting and a box of worms for my old cane pole.  The camp needs so much work before its really usable but the porch gave us a nice haven to watch the muddy bayou flow on down to Lake Dautrieve.  I'm really ready for the spring days to stick around.  

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Driving down Bayou Lafourch

I watched the sun come up over St. Mary Parish as I drove down I - 49 headed towards Cut Off.  K-bon  cajun radio played all my favorites starting with Jerry Lee Lewis and filled in with Bozoo Chavez, Roy Oberson, and Fats Domino.  As I drove I wondered if the butterfly shrimp boats would be trolling down Bayou LaFourche.  It's such a beautiful site watching the boat cut throught the coffee colored water. It makes me think of my first cup of coffee this morining.  The artist in me  noticed how the marsh grasses give off a golden glow in the morining light and the colorful boats parked along the bayou come in every shape, size and color. I think my favorites are the oyster boats. Their odd shapes are built for exactly what they are suppose to do transport raked oyster from the gulf and get them ready for half shell orders in the oyster bars of New Orleans.  My exit is Hwy. 1 and it takes me down to Golden Meadows and travels on to the Grand Island.  I keep hearing how the island is about to fall into the gulf but I find it still holding on.  Highway 1 is the main line  for all of the oil company trucks delivering supplies to the boats that go out to the oil rigs.  Its such a pity I get so motion sick because I would love to take a ride out into that green gulf water. 
With my visit to the old man over with and the memory of the old folks home making me feel sad I headed back up Hwy. 1. I'm still hoping to see at least one shrimp boat trolling but if not I'll settle on shrimp creole for  supper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Learning to Talk

Learning to talk for a two year old is such a powerful thing.  She has all of us hanging on to every word she babbles.  So the fact that we don't understand her secret language and because it's been so many year since any of us have spoken the powerful babble we will have to be patient till she can re-teach us.
Lesson one - No!  It can mean so many things and it gives her total power over us.  She's a sweet heart and the love of her daddy's life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Feel A Party Coming On

Lyrics to Angel from Montgomery keeps playing in my head.  A friend told me once I have a tendence to (what she called) cave. My justification is that everone should have a place that you can just kind of disappear into. Right?  My cave is a small room where I stitch tiny art quilts and listen to the music that tells me its okay to just be. Its still a work in progress. Today after using every curse word I know I finally figured out that the sewing machine has a self threading feature. Next time I'll read the directions before my glass gets half full.  The funny thing is that every time I get in this zone I feel a party coming on.  Sam Cook does it to me every time.  I can imagine a tall cool glass of burbon sitting next to the i pod helping me and Anthony Hamilton  ask whats going on. One of my (In the Hood) influences from work. There are a wealth of stories there, anyway back to the cave.  Right now I'm working on a scene from a picture I took in the Atchafalaya basin near Bayou Benoit cove. When it is finished it will be made into a pillow for my godchild and shipped off to Colorado.  Its funny how you can be a thousand mile from the swamp and it still has a hold on you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Louisiana Sneaux

My ride to work was like viewing a scene from some northern town except you knew your were in Louisiana by the snow covered Cypress limbs. It was a beautiful sight. I could have just stopped my car and ran around enjoying the snow flurries. My ride to work takes me down Hwy. 31 which I've nicknamed sugar cane highway. It winds along Bayou Teche passing throught the town of St. Martinville then passing by St. John Sugar Mill. As I drove past the Lake Martin rookery the snow flakes became so thick it actually looked like a little might cover the ground.

Louisiana snow can you just imagine that.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rain on a Tin Roof

The wind blew through the Cypress trees last nite and I bet even the Cocodrie's were wishing for a warm spring.  This cold weather has the crawfish sunk so deep in the pond it will take a warm wind coming from Marsh Island to make a difference.  Last nite's low was only 35 the weather man said, not really cold enough to snow down here in the swamp but I bet you can find ice on the ponds this morining.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Perfect Picture

Today was Papa Gustaves 86 birthday celebration and this picture really touched my heart. His special name for her when she was growing up was my little turtle.  You can see her love for him in her eyes.  She's a loving grand daughter and a good friend.  I'm greatful to have her in our lives.  

Monday, January 18, 2010

Iced Latte for Papa Gustave

Todays journey took me and Papa Gustave to Barnes and Nobles for a Iced latte.  I just wish that once I could go their and not find my self picking up a self help book.  After all how many do you need.  Just last week I picked up all my  old one and delivered them to my work and passed them around.  Its perty evident that they haven't done me any good because I still feel the need to purchase new ones.  I've misplaced my passion.  Wondeing what the real story behind this pathetic cry for help.  I want my passion to return but I'm tired. Could this be the real reason its hiding. I believe it's the sugar. Way to much sugar in my life. It started with the Christmas cookies and I've been on a roll ever since.  It may be time for an intervention, a purification by water.  We'll see.    I don't sound real convincing do I.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lower St. Martin Parish

Yesterday I drove down to lower St. Martin Parish for a Council On Ageing Gumbo that St. Martin Sheriff's Office  sponsored.  As I drove along Lake Paloure I noticed at least a hundred Louisiana Brown Pelicans skimming the water feeding on fish. It was a beautiful site and as it not being my lucky day I didn't have my camera with me. It was just as well because I would have been late for my function. No beast, no bird, no dead of nite will keep the Council On Ageing from their gumbo.  I'm being a little dramitic here but the truth be known, no matter what the weather is like the older folks come out for gumbo and I should also mention the  bingo.  I mean really lets put it in perspective gumbo's good but  B 23 and a little cash is even better.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Frozen Tundra down on the Bayou Teche

Woke up to a frosty 25 degrees. Fake fireplace roaring and I guess you would say it's a mind thing.  I would just love to drive out to Lake Martin but It's really cold out.  The term used  by the weather man is bitterly cold, now on the Bayou thats saying something. When the high for the day is only 32 degrees thats what I call winter weather. I actually love it. I can say that as I sit next to my natural gas heater surfing the web.  Guess I need to get it together and get out in nature.  Let's wait on day light.   

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bad Start

Started off my New Years eve with a toilet hugging situation.  Not good. No where to go but up from here. So I'm looking forward to a calmer stomach tomorrow and we'll see what it brings.

About Me

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St. Martinville, Louisiana, United States
A tiny piece of land.