Bonjour from the bayou!
If you have never been, you are certainly missing out.
There is a mysterious kind of beauty in the swamps with the Spanish moss that drapes like a stringy-haired sister of kudzu.
Passing under the cypress draped in the moss is like feeling the trees themselves reaching for you, eager to gather you into their exposed roots.
These roots are not buried in the scarce patches of earth but stand above the water extending to their tippy-toes below the lines of the murky water to balance like sturdy ballerinas dancing in the breeze.
Like the dancers’ feet, these roots hold secrets hiding mutant rats called nutria and alligators that emerge to warm themselves in the sun.
Often appearing as logs themselves, these lurking eyes have watched the watchers in such places as the land of Tabasco as well as the web of canals that run throughout communities and towns.
If you keep them well-fed with table scraps and marshmallows, they will probably leave your pets alone.
Most visitors probably stop at a drive-thru daiquiri shop as well as try to spot a gator.
These fascinating stops hold very strict rules insisting on IDs for anyone who even touches the frozen sweet concoctions even though the containers are carefully sealed.
These Cajuns do like their concoctions, many of which involve rice and a multitude of spices.
From jambalaya to basic chicken stew, the grain gives substance to sustenance with enough spice to tempt even those who don’t much care for rice.
It is the seafood that really tests the tongue though.
Crawfish and shrimp with the texture of meat instead of bait can make a person wonder if they will ever be able to eat such things anywhere else.
Like the food the music is like nowhere else.
Washboards and spoons compete with brass and strings as locals continue to explore the possibilities of their unique cultural heritage.
A people of outcasts and slaves, the bayou folks are proud of their rich heritage although getting one to speak on it might be a challenge.
Indeed getting a Cajun to speak might be a challenge as these close communities close themselves tight against the prying eyes of strangers.
Those lucky enough to be able to step away from the allure of big cities like New Orleans in the company of a Cajun might find themselves hearkening back to high school French with the hope of understanding a few more words of this pigeon language.
Asking a Cajun to slow their speech is like asking the bayou not to stink in the spring when the Mississippi rises and even the locals don’t drink the water.
That water runs everywhere. It engulfs the land as well as its people giving rise to birds that nest with predators as well as a determined people who build homes in spite of hurricanes.
This is a fierce and beautiful land as well as a fiercely beautiful land, still it is dull compared to the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains of my North Carolina home.
Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter for The Tribune, sharing her vacation this week with readers. She can be reached, when she returns, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-258-4058.