Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gueydan Duck Festival

Gueydan sits about 25 miles south of Jennings in Vermilion Parish. Pronounced gay-dawn, this small town is locally famous for its annual duck festival, to celebrate duck season next month. I thought that would be a good time to check the place out.

Driving east from Lake Charles down rural route 14 through coastal Louisiana, past fields of rice and soybeans, sugarcane growing alongside the road like weeds, it rained here and there, but the heaviest clouds loomed in front of us.


When we arrived in Gueydan, it looked like this.


When the rain subsided, we found the festival. Like the town, it’s a small affair, yet plenty of food, the usual southern Louisiana cuisine; crawfish balls, red beans and rice, pulled pork poboys.
We saw duck calls.


Duck decoys.

Duck carving.

Camo was everywhere; on everyone, everything, and for sale. One young boy donned a camo shirt, camo shorts, camo shoes, and a camo cap. I wanted to take his photo, but I feared his mom would think I’m a creeper.

There was skeet shooting.

A Cajun band, naturally.

A typical carnival midway.

And because it’s a DUCK festival . . .



Saturday, August 21, 2010

Preservation


I canned four jars of pickled banana peppers from our garden today -- first time I've canned since moving to Louisiana. Sadly, these peppers are the only thing I presently have growing in our garden. We planted tomatoes too late. We got only a handful of bell peppers. And that's all we planted. For some reason, our one banana pepper plant was prolific. I hope someday to have a large garden. And an orchard. Berry bushes growing along the fence.

There is something so satisfying about putting up, storing away, preserving summer's goodness for the lean winter months. Canning reminds me of my childhood, spending time with my grandmother. Corn, green beans, peaches, and tomatoes. She'd sweat in the heat of the kitchen, steam rolling off the vats of water baths, competing with the other women on the ridge to see who could amass the most jars. Grandma would line the basement shelves with the colorful filled containers like an athlete displays her trophies. Then she'd feed her family for a year.

Canning makes a woman feel industrious and proud. If she's particularly proud, or prodded, she may enter the fruit of her labors in the county fair competition, hoping to win a blue ribbon and recognition for her hard work.

What have you preserved lately? Produce, memories, words . . . ?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Extreme (Dorm Room) Makeover

Is there anything bleaker than an unoccupied dorm room? Four bare blank walls, two beat-up beds, two empty desks, and two chairs. That’s it. Sparse and stark. Then two boys move in, bringing their belongings. Bedding, books, and backpacks. Posters and musical instruments. Refrigerators and snacks to fuel all those late nights studying. Carpets to cover the cold cracked linoleum floor. Sentimental items that remind them of home. And they settle into this new home away from home.



After getting Eric unpacked, we ate lunch at Lasyone’s (La-see-awns), famous for their meat pies.


Bob and I each had a crawfish pie and red beans and rice.


Eric had a meat pie and potato salad.


If you missed my earlier post on Natchitoches, you can read it here.

To get to Natchitoches, part of our route takes us through the Kisatchie National Forest. It’s a lovely drive.


We’ll see Eric again in three weeks. In case you were wondering, and I have to say I even surprised myself, I did not cry as we left Natchitoches.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Orange, Texas

Cross the Sabine River on I-10 West from Louisiana into Texas, and the first town you come to is Orange. And you thought oranges only grew in Florida! I’d wanted to visit Orange since I arrived in SWLA three years ago and first heard about Shangri-La Gardens. (Because I miss Phipp's Conservatory terribly!) I can’t believe it took me all this time to get there. Of course, the dead of summer is not an ideal time to visit an outdoor garden. It was terribly hot to wander the paths. And there’s simply not all that much in bloom with this heat. But lovely, nonetheless. They offer a bayou tour twice a day, which I’d love to do, but we missed the boat. Literally.



Not sure the history of these bells.

This is some serious Spanish moss.

Purple martin mansions.


A blue bottle tree jungle in the children’s garden.


This is the coolest vine with orchid-like flowers called Dutchman’s Pipe. Bob and I had never seen one before.



We toured the Stark House. This gingerbread-adorned Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1894 by philanthropists William Henry Stark and his wife Miriam M. Lutcher Stark.


We enjoyed a fantastic lunch at Old Orange Café. Can't wait to eat there again.

Here’s a curious store called Farmer’s Mercantile. They sell seed, feed, whatnot and you name it. I found it fascinating – for about five minutes.


This is First Presbyterian Church of Orange, unique with its classic Greek Revival architecture. Quite impressive! Mrs. Stark donated the funds to have the church built, and promptly destroyed all receipts, as she didn’t want anyone to know how much it cost.


We also enjoyed the Stark Museum of Art. Well worth a visit. There are few towns I feel I must return to, but Orange is one of them. I want to take in a stage show at the Lutcher Theater, I’ve heard it’s quite nice. And I want to go back to Shangra-La in springtime – when the azaleas and camellias bloom.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Baby Turtle Finds a Home

One day, as Bob left work, he spied a baby turtle in the gravel outside his office door.

“How did you get here?” said Bob. “And what are you doing? You can’t stay here at the plant. You’ll get run over by a scooter. Or fall into a bin of silica. Or stumble into a tank of chlorine. I know. I’ll take you home. Angie loves turtles.” So Bob picked up Baby Turtle and put him in his lunch box.

Once home, Bob found a large glass jar and made Turtle a nice home with fresh water and aquarium rocks. He placed a life-like plastic turtle in the jar so Turtle wouldn’t feel lonely. He fed Turtle some fish food.

Angie came home and she indeed loved Turtle. “Oh, he’s so beautiful!”



But Turtle wasn’t happy. He didn’t like fish food. He couldn’t climb the high slippery glass walls of his little house. His “friend” wouldn’t move and Turtle suspected he was dead. The fresh water soon turned muddy. And Turtle was hungry.

Bob looked online and discovered red-eared sliders are omnivores – they eat anything. So Angie gave Turtle spinach and a piece of sweet juicy peach. Bob gave him a broccoli floret and a chunk of chicken. But Turtle still wouldn’t eat. He wanted OUT!

So Bob and Angie put Turtle and his little house into the car and drove him to Holbrook Park. They found a nice quiet spot along the bank of the bayou. A spot where Turtle could swim and eat and make new friends.


After saying goodbye and wishing Turtle the best of luck in his future, Angie placed Turtle on the sandy ground. Slowly at first, then picking up speed, Turtle scurried to the water and dove in.





A small minnow immediately swam up to greet Turtle, and Turtle made his first new friend. (minnow in right lower quadrant)


“Nice to meet you,” said Turtle to minnow, “but right now I’m really hungry and I must find something to eat.” And off Turtle swam in search of food. (Turtle in left lower quadrant)


Hopefully, this blue heron didn’t find Turtle first.