Friday, January 05, 2007

Sportsman's Paradise

Bayou DeSaird Photo
When I was a kid growing up, the Louisiana car tags had "Sportsman's Paradise" written on them.

Now I thought this was highly suspect for two reasons: 1. The only sport team in Louisiana that played on a national level was the New Orleans Saints, and they always stunk to high heaven, and 2. I was too young and ignorant to know that "sportsman" was a term for folks who like to hunt deer, ducks, quail, and go fishing and so forth.

When I learned what they meant by Sportsman's Paradise, I could understand it, I guess. Because there's sure enough a lot of fishing and hunting to be had in just about any part of the state. I saw more camouflage hats and clothing in four days last week than I've seen in ten years in Florida.

But going back to Louisiana after so long an absence, it was Louisiana that seemed strange to me.

For a long time after moving to Florida, it seemed wierd to see clumps of palm trees in horse and cow pastures. Oleanders and hibiscus blooming year 'round. Things like that, that I thought I could never get used to.

But this time, I was looking around Monroe and northeast Louisiana with new eyes.

The beauty is there if you look for it.

It isn't like the mountains or the ocean with a knock-your-socks-off immediate sensation. It's more like the desert, in that, at first look, you don't see much to look at, but if you look closely you see the beauty.

I had forgotten how pretty spanish moss hanging from so many of the trees is.

I had forgotten how green the winter plantings of rice were against the otherwise rather bleak landscape.

I had forgotten how lazy and beautiful the bayous and rivers were, with the cypress trees growing way out in the water and draped with spanish moss. Not to mention the way fog looks hanging low over these bayous and rivers.

Most of the houses there are brick, so they tend to look the same, even after many years; the trees and plants around them were just bigger. Neighborhoods built in the fifties and sixties still look pretty good, especially in the nicer neighborhoods.

It was neat to get to drive around a bit and see the sameness as well as the town's growth and differences.

I guess I could talk about that more tomorrow.

One thing I can say for certain; it was SO nice to be asked questions and thanked, even at drive through windows at fast food restaurants in Louisiana and Mississippi. Heck, they even were nice in northern Florida. Fast food restaurants in Palm Bay and Melbourne, all of central Florida really, would do well to send their employees to The South for training. We have the surliest, don't care workers down here. The difference was striking. (End of rant.)

Photo Information:

First Photo: Bayou DeSaird looking toward the ULM campus.

Second Photo: Spanish moss in the cypress trees along a bayou.

Third Photo: Train crossing the Ouachita River in the rain and fog. (Don't be afraid to take your camera out when the weather is bad. Just take basic precautions.)

Fourth Photo: Private homes and boat docks along Bayou DeSaird.


Hammer said...

I always like the scenery and good manners of the south. The slower pace and friendly people are a welcome change from most big cities.

I came from the midwest which is sort of nice but people start off gruff and onery then quickly warm up to you.

JAM said...

I'm not trying to glorify the South, but there is something to the phrase "southern hospitality". Still lots of problems, just like any other place, but thank yous and kindness and good manners is a pleasure to be immersed in. There are good people everywhere, but having grown up in the South, I appreciate some of the small things there. In reality, there are just as many knuckleheads there as anywhere else.

Several years ago, on a trip to Atlanta, when we checked into our hotel, the lady kept calling us "Hun". As in, what kin ah do for you, Hun? I know that many would run screaming to hear that, but I almost teared up, it had been so long since anyone talked to us that way.