December’s End in Louisiana

IMG_0190It’s December’s end at my place in Abita Springs, Louisiana. My family elected to not share gifts this year. That was fine with me. The presents that I received were a few small items from students and coworkers. I also helped myself to navel oranges from my mother’s tree that I picked on a ladder from the highest branches  It’s been a merry little Christmas.

Oh yes, another December gift was LSU clobbering Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl yesterday, 63-28. We’re on our way to a national championship. Our quarterback, Joe Burrow, won the Heisman trophy this year. The coach, Ed Orgeron, is also enjoying his time in the limelight. If you haven’t heard Coach O, as he is often called, you are missing a treat. He’s got the Cajun cadence of someone born and raised on the bayou. Here’s a clip of Orgeron speaking after a win earlier this year against the arch nemesis of LSU football, the reviled team from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Judge for yourself if the accent is out of the norm.

Coach Orgeron’s way of speaking is not odd to my ears. I’m a native of southeast Louisiana. Most all of my family speaks with a bit of Cajun in their voices, as well as a smattering of French words and phrases thrown in.

Coach O’s speech drew the curiosity of a Washington Post writer, Chuck Culpepper, He explained in fine detail the language peculiarities of Coach O’s diction. For a change, someone actually wrote an accurate and entertaining piece about our language and region. Culpepper writes better than I can:

Listen meticulously to the lionized voice of Ed Orgeron, and you might think you hear the gators sloshing, the mosquitoes buzzing, the oil-rig helicopters chuffing. You might picture the muskrats out swimming just before dawn, the Spanish moss hanging, the crawfish puffing through their gills, the shrimp trawlers’ outriggers above the bayou. You might even detect the French and the Southern in their singular dance.

This is December’s end for me in Louisiana: enjoying a few Christmas presents, some freshly picked citrus along with football. Coach O’s speech is lagniappe.

 

Signs of the Times

For your reading pleasure, I present the Signs of the Times of Abita Springs. As I have stated in other posts, I live in Abita Springs, Louisiana. We, the residents, are in the midst of a brouhaha.

Mayor Dan Curtis SignSign #1. It was posted at the entrance to a new housing development in Abita Springs. This sign is better known as The Original Sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign #2. Bad Ass for Abita Signage modified by unknown townsman (or woman). It’s better known as The Bad A** Sign. 

 

 

 

Scumbag developers

Sign #3.  The sign that expressed what Abita residents really thought the new housing development. It’s better known as The Scumbag Sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abita Mudhole

Sign #4. This sign may or may not have been posted by the developers. Kenner is a working class suburb of New Orleans. This sign is also known as The Final Sign. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What prompted these signs? Let’s review the town’s history first. In the not so distant past, the town had a good sense of boundaries. It was bounded on three sides by piney woods and a fourth side was marked by the Abita Bayou.

The town came into its own near the beginning of the 20th century as a Gilded Age resort town for New Orleanians looking for a holiday or a health spa, seeking cures through the clean air and water. Then, the automobile made the boat and train ride from New Orleans less popular. A group of hippies found the dying town in the early 1970s, giving it a bohemian renaissance. Then, the citizens of New Orleans and the surrounding suburbs decided that the 30-mile or so commute to and from Abita was not a hindrance. They descended upon Abita as well as all the other small towns on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Today, the town is stretching beyond its original boundaries. The outskirts and border areas near town are full of new housing and business developments. It’s harder and harder to judge where the town ends and begins even though the official population is about 2,500. With more people and buildings, there are more tensions.

In January 2019, a new mayor, Dan Curtis, took over Abita Springs City Hall. He inherited a boondoggle of a problem. The former mayor and council had approved a new housing development covering 162 acres that was zoned for 390 lots. Curtis ran and won as mayor on the platform of stopping the development, as the general consensus of the town was that the size of the new development would overwhelm the small town. The development is on hold as the two sides are waiting to go to court over the plan.

I don’t know what will happen now that The Final Sign has been posted.  Will the project begin with approval from the courts as the above cited project is now under court review? Will that mean The Apocalypse follows as hundreds of new residents descend upon our quaint town? Or, will the courts rule in favor of the town and the mayor. Will that make the town remain Paradise?

Only God knows.

 

 

A Mayor Named Omelette

mayor omeletteThis past Sunday, the mayor of Abita Springs, Dan Curtis, made an announcement at the weekly farmer’s market. At 11 a.m., as the market opened, Mayor Curtis introduced Omelette the hen as the honorary mayor for the day from the stage of the museum overlooking the market. Omelette is the local mascot for the Abita Cafe.

museumNormally, Omelette is a free range bird, who pecks for worms and scraps in the yard and near the outside tables of the cafe. However, for her honorary day as mayor, she appeared in a cage and was wheeled around the town’s center in a wagon. In addition to touring the market stalls of vegetables, prepared food and crafts, she viewed Rosie’s Tavern, Artigue’s Grocery and Deli, and the Abita Brew Pub.

I have never been inside Rosie’s Tavern, but I am a regular customer at Artigue’s Grocery and Deli, as well as the Abita Brew Pub. If you come by Abita, I recommend the plate lunches at Artigue’s Grocery. The Abita Brew Pub has great burgers.

Omelette’s political views are unknown. I have no idea where she stands on the local issues such as zoning or sewerage improvements. Heaven knows what she thinks about impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. For one blessed Sunday, Omelette blessed us with her apolitical tenure as mayor. It was refreshing. brew pub

In the evening, after the market closed. the chicken returned to her home at the cafe. Dan Curtis resumed his mayoral duties. Such is the news of a small town on Sunday in Louisiana.

How Cool is Abita Springs, Louisiana?

How cool is Abita Springs, Louisiana? Well, let me tell you. Abita Springs, a town of about 2500 residents, made the list of 25 Top Coolest Towns in the US.* You can read the article yourself if you want their opinion. I won’t repeat the article here in this space.

However, I think this is a cool town. I live here, so I might be a bit biased. Let me give you my list on what makes Abita Springs a great place.

mapld bakery
The town bakery not only has great baked goods, but a great wrap-around porch and its own ghost.
  1. Abita Springs has quaint architecture. The town came into its own in the Gilded Age as a place to escape the Yellow Fever epidemics of nearby New Orleans.
  2. Abita Springs has the St Tammany Trace running through the center of town.  The Trace is a bike and pedestrian trail that replaced the train tracks in St. Tammany Parish.
  3. Abita Springs has two museums. One museum is devoted to the history of the town, and the other is a museum of oddities with things like a stuffed alligator and collections of glass shards.

    abita mystery house
    Entrance to UCM (You See ‘Um) Museum and Mystery House
  4. Abita Springs has the Push Mow Parade every Mardi Gras. I can’t add anything else to that – it’s just cool.
  5. Abita Springs has its own Opry. The Abita Springs Opry has six concerts a year in the town hall, dedicated to preserving bluegrass and country music.
  6. Abita Springs hosts an annual city-wide garage sale every spring. What can beat that? I don’t know, but maybe the beer. . . ?
  7. Abita Springs is home to Louisiana’s best craft beer.  The Abita Brewery sells thousands of barrels of beer and ale across the state and the nation.

    Abita Christmas Ale
    Christmas Ale from Abita Brewery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The Matador Network, a digital travel magazine.