You see them everywhere these days. Newspapers, magazines, internet sites, late night talk shows. The top ten best places to . . . , the top ten favorite . . . , the top ten easiest . . . , the top ten worst . . . . A writer friend of mine insists these top ten lists amount to nothing more than lazy journalism. Mere filler and fluff for pages or airwaves. And yet they remain a pop culture staple. Publishers love them. Do readers? Personally, I get pretty excited when I read that Pittsburgh is the number one most livable city, rates high for having a low cost of living, or boasts the most football fans. I feel sad when I read that Louisiana ranks high as one of most unhealthy states or has poor standards for education.
What do you think? Do you read top ten lists? Do you enjoy them? Do they influence your behavior or opinions? Do you really want someone telling you where to find the best pizza in town or would you rather figure that out for yourself?
I guess I was lazy this weekend. I did little exciting or noteworthy. So here are my own top ten best reasons to love living in southwest Louisiana.
10. Shorts and t-shirts in January. Sure, we suffer stifling heat and humidity in the summer – what part of the country hasn’t lately – and occasional hurricanes. But I love not bundling up and shivering in winter, dealing with treacherous driving conditions, and paying $300.00 monthly heating bills. I love that I can get outdoors and play year round. Recently, I'm learning how to kayak. Like I always say, I’d rather be hot in the summer than cold in the winter.
9. Free parking. Everywhere. No kidding.
8. Minimal traffic. Seriously. If five cars line up behind a stop light, the locals think it’s a traffic jam.
7. Roads. Long, straight, basic grid pattern, easy to learn my way around. And without the freeze/thaw thing going on in the winter, very few if any potholes. Okay, enough about driving and weather.
6. Food. Since moving to Louisiana, my taste buds have savored the most incredible new cuisines and some dishes I’d never even heard of before. Gumbo, jambalaya, etoufee, po boys, boudin, crawfish, shrimp and other fresh seafood; it’s all so good!
5. Interesting wildlife. Nutria, roseate spoonbills, armadillos . . . . An alligator in Lowe’s garden center? Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the opossum it actually can in fact be done.
4. Festivals. Louisiana.com states Calcasieu Parish alone hosts over 75 annual festivals. That's only one parish in a five parish region. Suffice it to say, there are a whole lot of festivals around here. I've said it before; we celebrate everything!
3. Music. Zydeco, Cajun, swamp pop . . . if all that doesn’t make you want to dance, there’s no hope for you.
2. Unique culture. I’m learning French by osmosis. I’m fascinated by the traditions of Mardi Gras, pirates, swamp lore, and the Acadians. It’s a daily learning experience. And I love the arts in Lake Charles; the many galleries and museums, theater, ballet, the symphony, the list goes on and on.
And my number one top ten reason why I love living in southwest Louisiana . . . friendly people. The folks here are amazing; kind, helpful, caring, welcoming, shirt-off-their-backs-for-anyone-types. My family and I have been on the receiving end of so much goodness. It’s truly heartwarming. Of course, Pittsburghers rank high on the friendly list, too. On my top ten, Pittsburgh and Lake Charles are tied for first place in the friendly category.
Let me know what you think on those earlier questions. And just for fun, create a top ten list related to your own hometown.