Posts Tagged ‘louisiana’

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – August is upon us and for those in south Louisiana, specifically in Cajun country, that means it is time for the Fête-Dieu du Teche which celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also commemorates the arrival of the Acadians in south Louisiana.

On August 15, for the past eight years, Catholics have gathered along Bayou Teche from Leonville (Pop. 2,127) to St. Martiville (Pop. 5,844) to participate in the 38-mile journey down the bayou in a Eucharist procession by boat. The day begins in Leonville with Mass celebrated in French at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church.

Then everyone loads into their boats; the Eucharist is fixed on a altar in the lead boat, under a canopy. Everyone follows by boat down the bayou to Arnaudville (Pop. 1,614) where everyone disembarks. First communicants dressed in white scatter rose petals from baskets and the Eucharist follows, to an altar on the bank at St. Francis Regis Catholic Church. Participants kneel, pray the Rosary and Benediction, and then are back on the boats to the next stop.

By the end of the day, they reach St. Martinville where they process through town to the church, St. Martin de Tours for benediction. Confession is available at each stop.

It is a sight to behold. I’m not Catholic; we are Episcopalians, and my husband likes to say we are “Catholic-lite.” But, we love attending the Fête-Dieu du Teche because face it, what’s not to love about entire communities engaged in prayer?

Last year, as everyone was getting back into their boats at Arnaudville, Steve and I walked over to the bridge so we could see the procession as they passed under us on the way to the next town. Smiling nuns with habits flying behind them waved up at us; the incense perfumed the air and then behind the laity came the families who followed along. All in all it is easy over a hundred boats.

As more people around the world learn about this event, it grows each year. This will be year eight. We already have our lodging reserved and will be there once again to witness the event. I love how this event brings families and communities together; I love how tied to their very Cajun culture this is, too. The journey to St. Martinville commemorates the journey their Acadian ancestors made in fleeing religious persecution all those years ago.

It is a glorious thing to see and I’d encourage anyone to see it if you have the chance. Joseph Pronechen wrote in some detail about the event here and the Facebook page is here. And there is a cool video here. I wrote about it last year on this blog which you can see here.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT -A few random thoughts today:     

On Living in Louisiana: Even though Louisiana is at the bottom of all the important economic growth lists, bottom of education, bottom of job growth, there are some definite advantages to living here. I’ve written often about the differences between north and south Louisiana – it might as well be two different universes, and I do love south Louisiana. But, even up here in the northern part of the state, we have our perks. It’s never a bad day, for example, when a friend calls out of the blue on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon and says, “We droppin’ a big ol’ batch of crawfish in da water right now; come get you some!”

When that happens, you drop what you are doing, grab a six-pack, and follow the directions to a renovated industrial looking building in the shad of the interstate where three 45-pound sacks of crawfish await the hot boiling brew over the propane fire that turns them into spicy, tasty delicacies. I could eat my weight in crawfish.

They aren’t crayfish or crawdads around here; they are crawfish. Sometimes mudbugs. Always delicious.

Another perk of living in Louisiana is the weather; yes, last winter we had a five-day snowmageddon event that had us shut inside for a solid week. Unheard of. We have already had our one day of snow this week, so now we look forward to spring. Oh, the cold isn’t done with us yet. We will have a few more spells where the temps go below freezing, but for the most part, I’m looking for spring.

I mean, college baseball kicked off this weekend. Nothing says spring like college baseball!

We have Mardi Gras parades coming up beginning in the next week or so and that harkens to Lent and then the Easter season, and well, spring.

Here in Shreveport, we have “city Mardi Gras” as opposed to “country Mardi Gras” celebrated by many of my friends in Cajun country down south. Very different events! But always fun.

I’m the first one to get on my soapbox and complain about the crime, the terrible politicians, the urban decay, the potholes, the low teacher pay, etc.; we are far from perfect here in Louisiana, but dang, I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

On The Super Bowl: Are you going to watch? I’m probably not. I haven’t watched an NFL game in three or so years and could not care less about it. I do love Joe Burrow however, and so I rather would like to see him win, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. We usually watch the Puppy Bowl instead.

On The Vanishing Louisiana Coast: I know we all hate the NYT, but I do want to share this article. Last week one of the books I share with you was the Mosquito Supper Club cookbook and this article references that book, the author, and her very real concerns about the danger of the Louisiana coastline. I’ve seen it. It’s read and it’s shocking. We can debate the whole climate change angle, but whatever the actual cause, or combination of causes, we are losing a lot of land down there, as well as entire communities and even the sustainability of our seafood industry. It’s troublesome.

Y’all have a good week and be kind.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

By:  Pat Austin

ARNAUDVILLE LA – Welcome 2022! I did not post last week – you may not have noticed (ha!).  As you may or may not recall I retired from teaching in May. As a state employee in Louisiana, I did not pay into Social Security but instead into the Teachers Retirement System for the state. However, previous private sector jobs means that a little Social Security dividend may be on the horizon if I can get nine more quarters. So, I have picked up a part time job working as the secretary at my church. It is a nice three-day a week gig, 18 hours, and eventually I’ll get my nine quarters. All that to say, I didn’t post last week because I was juggling off days so I could go out of town over the New Year’s weekend.

There’s no way I was staying in Shreveport over New Year’s weekend, I mean…seriously. Guns fired in the air…sounding like a third world country.

We spent the past week in my beloved south Louisiana, in a tiny town called Arnaudville, which I love. The population here is about 1500, but we are 15 miles from Breaux Bridge, about 25 miles from Lafayette, an hour away from Baton Rouge, and a little further than that from New Orleans but I don’t need to go to NOLA except to see the WWII museum. 

I’m sure I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my Cajun paradise before, but man it has been a great week. You’ll never find friendlier people anywhere on the planet – of this I am convinced.

This part of Louisiana is a conservative bastion. NOLA is another story, but Cajun Country is ultra conservative. We have had very interesting conversations with people here and met many like minds. As a rule, these Cajun people are hard-working, family oriented, and faith based. Work hard, play hard.

It is depressing to think about returning to Shreveport this week. Shreveport is a culinary desert. Nothing but chain restaurants and heavy on the Mexican and Chinese. You would think that just three hours to the north of Arnaudville I could get decent seafood, but you would be wrong. I can get decent frozen seafood, but here, in south Louisiana I can get seafood fresh and prepared in delicious sauces that would make you weep. Lump crabmeat topped with crawfish etouffee, hot steaming crawfish seasoned with a spicy Cajun blend, and fried alligator so tender it melts in your mouth.

We have stocked our freezer in our Air BnB with food to take home: chicken thighs stuffed with boudin and pepperjack cheese, wrapped in bacon; a pork roast stuffed with bell peppers, onions, and garlic, a pork chops stuffed with crawfish dressing. I can’t get food like this three hours from here.

Last night we went to a local brewery famous for their beer of course, but also their wood fired pizza. My favorite is the Alien Autopsy which is topped with a spicy tasso ham, andouille sausage, and candied jalapenos. For New Year’s Day they offered an eggroll stuffed with black eyed peas and shredded cabbage. We listened to live Zydeco music, people danced under the live oaks, and we talked with a local business owner for hours about the state of our country. His recommendation, in short, is for all the producers to just go “off the grid” and quit feeding the system. Quit supporting the welfare state.

He may not be wrong.

Here in Arnaudville, there are two Catholic churches served by the same priest. He is fabulous. To attend an Episcopalian service, we’d have to drive into Lafayette, probably.  So, when here, we walk down half a block to the Catholic church and listen to Fr. Travis. He is young, energetic, and always on point. His sermons are amazing. And I love a town where you can go to the brewery to hear a live Cajun jam, order a pizza, and run into the priest. We were able to visit with Fr. Travis today and discuss several theological questions we had while the fiddles and accordians played sad Cajun ballads and lively dance tunes across the room.

I hope we can move here soon and get out of Shreveport. My son is in nursing school, starting clinicals, and I don’t want to move off until he is on his own two feet. But man alive, I can’t wait to get out of Shreveport. Life is short and I want to spend the rest of my time in a happy place with good food, good music, good people.

Here’s hoping the New Year brings good things to us all.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Random thoughts this morning….

  • I just saw in The Advocate that former NOLA mayor Mitch Landrieu has been appointed by Biden to oversee the $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill. My first thought was “WTH?!”  Mitch Landrieu who was the ramrod for destroyed NOLA’s monuments, who thought “equity circles” would help solve crime in the city, the gun-control advocate…I mean, what could go wrong?  In trying to find some kind of positive spin on this, I can only hope he will perhaps do something with this new power to help coastal erosion issues in Louisiana.
  • Beto O’Rourke has thrown his hat in the ring for Texas governor.  Now I remember why I burned out of political blogging. I hate them all.  Hate.
  • On that note, I have just finished reading a book I thoroughly enjoyed: Hondo Crouch’s daughter, Becky, has written her third book and it’s a treasure. Luckenbach: The Center of the Universe, is a joyful look into the life of Hondo and the good times had by all at Luckenbach. If we could all only approach life as Hondo did, the world would be better. The man who fired a cannon full of chicken feathers during festivals at Luckenbach and awarded “purple hearts” to those “who fell down the best” obviously has a joyful outlook on life. The man who led a parade from the Alamo to Luckenbach, TX while playing a pea-trap with a kazoo hidden inside is someone I wish I had known. I laughed out loud on nearly every page and read every other page aloud to my husband. So much fun!
  • Speaking of books, I’m happy to be able to get back out on the speaking circuit again. The Covid shutdowns pretty much halted any book appearances I was doing after Cane River Bohemia came out. That, and time – those things taper off after your book has been out for a year or so. But I do have an appearance tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. It is fun to get out, meet people, and talk about a project so close to my heart. This book has taken me all over the state of Louisiana and it’s been a fun ride.
  • Holidays? I’m feeling a bit of Christmas spirit this year; sometimes it’s more of a struggle, but this year, since so many things were shut down last year, I am a little excited. That being said, I am a one holiday at a time girl, and I’m not going to put up any tree until after Thanksgiving. Plus, we put up a live tree, and it will be quite dead by Christmas if I put it up too early. One holiday at a time. No tree. Yet.
  • Closing arguments today in the Rittenhouse trial. Predictions?