A North Carolina Tar Heel in the Heart of Acadiana

I’m not accustomed to having windows open and to be wondering whether I ought to just go ahead and turn on the a/c on New Year’s Eve. Welcome to Southern Louisiana! Evidently this isn’t at all unheard of, around here. We’re also under a tornado watch, as a cold front is coming through overnight, dropping our temps from (low) 60 to 47 and (high) 76 to 59 for New Year’s Day. That’s still on the mild side, isn’t it? Uh, yes, it is.

I haven’t done as much exploring of my region as I’d like. I live in a lovely town, one which date from about the same period as my home area in the Sandhills of North Carolina. That makes it one of the newer towns down here; there are towns like St. Martinville and New Iberia that date from the mid-1700s (and had European settlers in the area at what were simple trading outposts, much earlier, late 1600s-early 1700s). This area is also pretty “English,” in contrast to “Cajun,” although there’s a large Cajun population here. We are very much in the heart of Acadiana.

I grew up in town in NC but I have farming roots on both sides of my family. so the agricultural makeup of this area fascinates me. Now, I know what a tobacco field looks like, and peach orchards, and soybeans, and a variety of other crops grown in quantity up in The Old North State. But I’m not so sure what I’m looking at, yet, down here. I assume the recently-flooded fields that were so cleanly plowed and disked, just a couple weeks ago, are rice fields, as I live near the nation’s Rice Capitol, but that assumption is based entirely on my reading of the novels of Pearl S. Buck. They could be crawfish fields, too, but I’m more inclined to think the fields that had some water and a lot of plant growth even after being drained last year are the crawfish farms. I don’t know who can clear that up for me, yet, but I keep looking. Sugar cane, on the other hand, is pretty easy to recognize, and there’s a lot of that here and south toward the “coast –”

— if you can call it the coast. The Louisiana coastline is primarily swamp that becomes the Gulf oF Mexico, unlike the Carolinas’ flat and distinct sandy coastline.

Another big difference is that, although the Coastal Plain of NC is flat as flat can be, there are miles upon miles of woodlands. Here almost all land is under cultivation. The only place I’ve seen real forests are actually down along the Atchafalaya Swamp. Everywhere else, there are hedge rows and trees in people’s yards, but not acres and miles of woodland. That is peculiar, but it also gives one a vista that is out of this world — miles and miles of open land to the horizon, allowing you to see the moon coming up over the horizon and the water tower of the town maybe 12 miles away.

This is also a big beef area. I get a kick out of seeing pastures with cows and small lots with cows all around here. There are some breeds I know, like the Hereford, Brahma, Angus, and Charolais, and a couple of breeds I’m not sure of at all. They all help me feel at home, as cows are also a staple of the NC agricultural scene. More and more, this area, which has felt like home since my first visit nearly two years ago, is getting into my bones, and i absolutely love it.

Early signs of SPRING

1) longer days (for which I’m extremely grateful!)

2) warmer weather (we hit 60 today. We’ll have more cold before Easter, to be sure, but after two months’ unremitting cold (highs in 30s and 40s, extremely unusual for us), this is a wonderful respite.

3) Robins and bluebirds – and other birds as well, but those are the two noticeable species.

4) Green! – tips of green from bulbs and daylilies are poking their noses above-ground.

5) Patted Simon a few minutes ago, and my hands came up covered in cat hair. He’s already shedding!

My world and welcome to it – This Week: The Mouses Saga

Once upon a time, in the Farm (portion) jokingly called Funny (as in, The Funny Farm – which it was in that season, when, albeit briefly, chickens and goats resided thereon) –
There lived a slightly sentimental female by the name of Laura, with her single cat – who is sequentially known as Him, The Cat, Bubba, and most resently, Simon.

Simon was a large cat, weighing approximately 20 lbs, yet surprising agile. He was a clever and skilled hunter, and throughout the year he was known to bring to his Laura a wide variety of samples of his prowess:

Mice. Birds. Skinks. Moles. Bunnies (see the photo). Field rats. A bat. A squirrel… Once, the Laura barely got the door closed in Simon’s face in time to prevent his presenting her with a rather charming (and still very much alive) blacksnake.

In recent times, Simon’s techniques changed. Whereas formerly he would bring his kill in to impress his Laura, he began to surmise that she might be more enthused for his skill and capability as a Mighty Hunter if she could see just how hard he had to work to capture swiftly-moving prey.

In short, Simon began to bring live prey to his Laura, for her admiration and approbation.

Coming in through an open door, or occasionally window, Simon would bring his latest captive to his Laura, with little purry mrows of invitation. And, when his Laura would look at him from whatever work she was engaged in, he would lay his Love Offerings at her feet, then gaze up to her beloved face in order to see the pride and appreciation glowing there.

Poor Cat failed to recognize that the shrieks and pointings were not of admiration. He did not realize that his Laura was, in fact, saying, “Simon! Pick that mouse up – noooo!!!! Not in here! – quick! Catch it again!!!”

— because, in very Truth, while Simon was gazing with adoring expectation at his Laura, his captive was taking the opportunity of his diverted attention to make a mad dash for freedom. On some occasions, Mouse was eventually caught again, in a plastic cup, or in the Laura’s own hands from under a bookshelf (which won the Laura with a sharp little BITE on the hand!) –

However, two of the Mouses discovered that there was a tall and heavy object against one wall, which, touched, could make pleasing noise and which was too heavy to be moved. A very safe hiding place, indeed!

And so the Mouses hid, and when all was safe and quiet, they ventured out and made their way into other parts of the House, careful at all times to avoid rousing the notice of the Cat or of his Laura. Their favorite place to encamp was the object called Stove, whence small crumbs occasionally fell – but boredom, and a Mouse-like delight in adventure, caused them to venture forth beyond the confines of Stove and into the wider House-world……….

(to be continued, I fear)