Lagniappe and Life

There should have been no reason to cry.

In the house on the road to the Amite river, with memories of Verlinda Harrell’s ferry stirring in the breeze and the old Baton Rouge-Springfield road still leading down to the crossing, the pace of life was slow — easy and enjoyable.

Part of a world perfectly designed for childhood wandering, its Spanish moss-draped oaks invited climbing, and the tire dangling from its sturdy limb seemed to demand swinging. On cots arrayed across the screened-in sleeping porch, we dreamed our dreams on mattresses filled with moss in the sweet, magnolia scented air.

In season, we picked lemons, or pecans. In spring, we ate our way through dewberry patches down to the river, where cypress and tupelo drank from the easy current, shadowing and protecting the creatures passing among them.

In such a world, there should have been no reason to cry.

And yet I stood in my great-aunt’s kitchen, tears streaming down my face, undone by profound and obvious misery. Seeing my distress, Aunt Fannie said, “Good heavens, child. Did you hurt yourself?” I wasn’t hurt — at least, not in the way she meant it. I shook my head. “Come see, then. Let’s have some lemonade, and go out on the gallery.”

With lemonade to enjoy, the tears soon stopped. “Now,” she said. “Tell me. What’s troubling you?” Reluctantly, I confessed. “I don’t want to take a nap.” “A nap?” she said. “Who told you to take a nap?” “Beulah. She said I had to lay down and nap.”

Absent-mindedly brushing away one of the dogs, Fannie stood up and headed into the house. “Drink your lemonade. I’ll ask what she said.”

In less time than it took to finish the lemonade, Fannie and Beulah were back, and both were laughing. A common Louisiana phrase, combined with Beulah’s lovely but noticeable accent, had led to misunderstanding. When she offered me a tidbit from the kitchen and said, “Take this for lagniappe,” I interpreted her words as a suggestion that I should “take a nap.” 

I endured years of good-natured teasing about my confusion, until the teasers were taken by death and the incident forgotten. But the word had become embedded into my vocabulary. Eventually, I began to truly appreciate the usefulness and beauty of that unusual word: lagniappe.

The word itself is French Creole, rooted in the Spanish la ñapa —a gift — which itself may be related to the Quechuan yapa  — something added, or a gift.

The word began to appear in the south, particularly in New Orleans, around the mid-1800s; merchants used it to describe small extras, or bonuses, given to customers.

The best early description of the word was written by Mark Twain in his 1883 book, Life on the Mississippi:

We picked up one excellent word — a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word –“lagniappe”. They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish — so they said.
We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth.
It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a “baker’s dozen.” It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure.
The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying “Give me something for lagniappe”. The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don’t know what he gives the governor; support, likely.
When you are invited to drink — and this does occur now and then in New Orleans — and you say, “What? Again? No, I’ve had enough,” the other party says, “But just this one time more — this is for lagniappe.”
If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill of coffee down the back of your neck, he says, “F’r lagniappe, sah,” and gets you another cup without extra charge.

The meaning of the word has continued to spread. Dan Gill, garden correspondent for The Times-Picayune, once wrote that “Spanish moss is atmospheric lagniappe in Louisiana landscapes.”

His clever phrase points to a larger truth. Just as shopkeepers, restaurateurs, family, or friends will extend lagniappe from time to time, so the world offers us lagniappe: unexpected and wholly undeserved gifts that lead to delight and appreciation.

Piles of vividly colored milo in Kansas; a ladies’ tresses orchid in Arkansas; the aerial courting display of a great white egret in Texas: each in its own way is lagniappe, the “something extra” that adds beauty and interest to our lives.

In her characteristic way, Annie Dillard suggests the existence of lagniappe in nature when she writes:

This, then, is the extravagant landscape of the world: given with pizzazz, given in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

That sense of extravagance, that exuberance and beauty I see everywhere in nature  has led me develop a new blog site titled, “Lagniappe: Images and Incidentals.” As I say there:

I love to write, and “The Task at Hand” always will be my primary site: my place for essays, stories, and poetry. On the other hand, photography has opened new worlds to me. Now and then, I take special delight in a photo, and have wanted a place to post those I enjoy.

Now, I have that place. A link to “Lagniappe” is available at the top of this page, just as a link to “The Task At Hand” is found in the same spot on the new page.

In certain circles, it’s considered poor form to laugh at our own jokes, and I suppose some might consider it in bad taste to enjoy our own work.  But I do take pleasure in many of my photos, and I hope you do, too.

They’re for lagniappe.

Comments always are welcome. To hear “lagniappe” spoken, click here.


116 thoughts on “Lagniappe and Life

  1. Lagniappe is an interesting word and I’d not heard it spoken nor seen it written before. I very much enjoyed the story of it and maybe I’ll learn to use it myself. I’ll need to go to Google to learn how to pronounce the word. My computer is still on the fritz and sometimes the sound is working and sometimes it is not. I’ve been too lazy and/or just not in the mood to get it fixed. I’m happy that you have added a new blog. I know that I’ll enjoy it probably a tad more than this one. I am sorry but the birds, plants, insects and, landscapes give me immense enjoyment.

    1. The pronunciation can vary, but the way I most often hear it is “LAN-yap.” My aunt Fannie came to Louisiana from Iowa, so she never picked up much of an accent, but Beulah and her sister Marlene did. I wish they still were around. I’d love to listen to them again, just to figure out that accent. The last time I saw them, my mom still was alive, and we visited them at the old house. I heard a lot of family stories I’d never heard. Everyone was in a chatty mood. (Mom, Beulah, and Marlene were cousins.)

      You’re partly responsible for the new blog, you know. Almost every time I’m out roaming, I see something and think, “Oh, Yvonne would like that.” Now, I can share more of what I find.

      1. Goodness gracious, thank you for thinking of me as a bit of inspiration to begin a new blog. I know that I will enjoy a great deal.

        As for as “lan-yap” goes I thank you for a new word. I went immediately to Google to see and or hear and by George the sound was working again but it will not work for anything that’s in You Tube.

      2. LAN-yap sounds right and good and is our favourite new word of the week. Thank you so much for this wonderful story. We’ll pop right over now. :-)
        Warm greetings from Norfolk,
        💃🏼 Dina-Hanne
        👭Siri & Selma

        1. There’s nothing like new — even a new word can be quite a delight. I’m glad you like this one. All of you certainly provide that “little something extra” in life for us all!

    1. Jean, the more I write, the more I believe Flannery O’Connor got it right when she said, ““Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” I’m constantly surprised by how often something in the present and something from the past seem to link up. When they do, I learn a few things, too. What’s not to like about learning?

  2. Oh, Linda, I really enjoyed this word, and the meaning of it, and the writing and stories in this post! Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this! Well, your photos in your new page, amazing, invaluable and so educational! We just came back from a couple hikes in Sedona, around Oak Creek, and the wildflowers are starting to bloom, so truly magical.

    1. I’m not surprised you enjoyed the word, Bee. It’s one that would fit nicely in your life — especially with your kids. From what I’ve seen, they’re almost lagniappe-magnets.They seem to find those gifts everywhere, thanks in good part to their curiosity and attentiveness.

      I’ve been seeing posts about the really overwhelming blooms across the desert this year. I’m so glad you’re starting to see your wildflowers. They can come and go so quickly that saying, “Oh, maybe next week, or the week after” isn’t such a good idea.

  3. Looking forward to both columns! This was great, you had me worried with the crying and Spanish moss, that there was going to be something nostalgic in a sad way, or sad in a worse than a rose-for-Emily way coming up, but I should have known it was a rolling-stone-gathers-no-moss way.

    I know that last expression means rootlessness, and I definitely don’t mean that, just a keep on truckin’ way and looking forward to seeing more of your photos. Already I haven’t seen half those plants or flowers before.

    1. Actually, if you crossed “A Rose for Emily” with “Truckin” you might just get “Sugar Magnolia”. Our family’s sugar magnolia was my great-aunt Inazel, who pretty much set the standard for flighty behavior. More about her in the future.

      As for truckin’, I’ve heard that R.Crumb modeled these guys after a group of botanists on a field trip. That might not be true, but what fun if it were.

          1. Re-read your column this morning with genuine enjoyment, and wanted to state that your quest for “just the right words” was successful. You conveyed a charming glimpse of your childhood world and the people in it, with economy yet warmth.

    1. See what a girl can do with a stash of good cookies at hand? I’m a little behind my self-imposed schedule (new template in January, new site in February) but it’s still March, so it’s time to march on to Number Three on the resolution list!

  4. Sometimes blogs are like potato chips, and sometimes they are pigeon holes, and sometimes they are two distinct constructions, each made for its own sake. I shall look forward to seeing the new one.

    1. Well, as I’ve said many times over the past years, I’m more inclined toward “both/and” than I am to “either/or.” It took me some time to figure out that I could apply that preference to my blogging, but when the inspiration hit, all that was left was the doing of it.

      I toyed with the title for weeks, but when I found the Twain quotation, it was like a huge, green light and away I went.

  5. Children cry because they have to take a nap, and now there are days we’d appreciate that nap. I’ll check out your new site. Thanks for the word. Lagniappe. I like it.

    1. It’s a wonderful word, and the experience it represents is more common than we might think. For example, anyone walking down the street might look at your house and be startled, or delighted, or amused, by the porch pup. See? Lagniappe!

  6. What a lovely way to introduce your new blog. I love Fannie’s concern about your tears, and the assumption that there was a reasonable cause behind the tears.

    1. Fannie was quite a woman. She attracted kids like a magnet — partly because there always were cookies around, and she had no qualms about letting grubby little hands dig around in the cookie jar.
      This post was a fun way to introduce Fannie, too. She’ll be back.

        1. Those look wonderful. I did look at some other recipes on the sidebar, and noticed that, even when two cultures are speaking the same language, a lot of translation can be necessary. The centigrade to farenheit is easy, and the measurements can be figured out, but there’s still some vocabulary that wants exploring.

          Your kisses reminded me of the meringue shells we used to love. They could be filled with anything. I liked peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce, or lemon curd with berries. I may give those a go before the humidity rolls in full force, and they’re impossible to make.

          1. I have had meringues with lemon curd but not peppermint ice cream. They sound delicious. I had another look at the link I sent. I am wondering if you are puzzled by Eskimo lolly cake. I am too. I have only known that cake as Lolly Cake.Obviously I don’t pay much attention to the lolly/candy sections in shops! Who knew there were Eskimo lollies? Not me.

  7. “Lagniappe”…I can’t pronounce bur what a beautiful expressions/story of this word, and this post, dear Linda. Your writing fascinated me. It is always so beautiful, so enjoyable and so interesting to read of your posts. Thank you, have a nice day and new week, Love, nia

    1. Here you are, Nia. Click the little button on this page and you can hear the pronunciation. I should have added that to the post, but didn’t think about it. Now, I will.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Now that I have both blogsites up and running, I appreciate all the work that you put into yours — not the mention the frustrations you endured. I hope all’s going well now, and the problems have been resolved.

      1. How thoughtful you are dear Linda, yes, I can hear and I can say now :) How nice to learn… Thank you, Thank you. I am fine dear, I try to make my mind busy, with photography, home, cats, etc. But closed my mind to the things that happening in my country. Soon there will be a referendum, it is almost nonsense… It is referendum to say yes or now for the dictatorship! He wants to decide and work on everything…This is craziness… there is only one chance to say no. But I am not sure what will be… Anyway, once again Thank you dear Linda, Love, nia

        1. I’ve been following events in your country, and hoping the best for you. Photography, home, and cats can be a good defense against certain kinds of craziness — as well as a little knitting, I suspect. Living through chaos never is easy, but it can be done. You’re a fine model of how to do it, Nia.

  8. Loved the word ‘lagniappe’ and your story, Linda! You are one amazing storyteller. There’s always something new to learn from your posts. Am even more delighted to know that you have another blog site exclusively for nature photographs. Congratulations and best wishes!

    1. The focus on the new blog will be nature, but there’s no telling what else might creep in. That’s why I included “incidentals” along with “images.” it was a way to leave myself a little wiggle room for other things that might catch my attention.

      One of my favorite bloggers, now gone, liked to say that “everything is storyable.” And it’s true. Stories are everywhere; like flowers, like people, like clouds. It’s just a matter of pointing to them and saying, “Hey. Look at that.”

  9. It’s fascinating about “Lagniappe”. The Spanish version of “la ñapa” is still used extensively in P.R..

    This post made me think of the famous song “The best things in life are free,” sometimes quoted as a famous proverb, but it really is a song written by Americans B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, and Ray Henderson for the 1927 musical “Good News.” However, later on fashionista Coco Chanel added “The best things in life are free. The second best things are very, very expensive.”

    1. The saying is easy for me, but the spelling still requires a pause, now and then. Even after I activated the new blog, and wrote this piece, I was double-checking, just to be sure. I’m entirely capable of reading right past the most obvious mistakes.

  10. Coco Chanel could match Dorothy Parker in any witty remark competition. For years, I admired her little black dresses and Chanel No.5. Later, I discovered she was quite the sharp-eyed observer, and often on target. That’s a great quotation you added.

    I grew up with that song, and loved it. Here’s one of my favorite arrangements — probably because I grew up listening to it on our “hi-fi.”

      1. That is a good one. Of course, I never hear Dinah Shore’s name without thinking about Chevrolet. Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of advertising should have been around in the 50s and 60s. Those people knew their business.

  11. The first time I saw that word, lagniappe, was in NE Wisconsin in 1999. Never have seen it or heard it since. It’s a much prettier word to look at than hear.

    Dewberries? Regional for blackberries? Don’t be tallkin’ about sweet scents and magnolias! It’s 25 windchill right now with snow patches still on the ground!

    1. Maybe you just haven’t heard it said the right way — with a little southern breeze at the start, and some sugar cane at the end. Come on down, and immerse your good self in some south Louisiana for a time, and you might start to hear it differently.

      Dewberries are in the same genus as blackberries. Ours are “Rubus trivialis” — but there’s nothing trivial about the pleasure they produce. A good dewberry cobbler is food for the gods, although getting out to pick them always is an experience. They trail along the ground, and are enthusiastic growers. It’s always wise to take a look before sitting on the ground. Sitting on half-hidden dewberry vines isn’t something I recommend.

      It’s the vernal equinox today. Shouldn’t that snow be disappearing sometime soon?

  12. Linda, once again, you’ve woven a tapestry of ideas into a delicious whole… one thread at a time. After years of trips and weeks of stays in and around New Orleans, I had a vague idea of the meaning of lagniappe, but never in all that time had it been explained in such an entertaining manner. Thanks for the education…

    1. I didn’t realize you had such close associations with New Orleans. I’ve not spent any time at all there, apart from a couple of brief visits. I’m told New Orleans culture is quite different from the rest of the state, but lagniappe is one thing that seems to unite everyone from New Orleans to Lafayette to Grand Chenier.

      I love Mark Twain’s description, and I love the word. It bespeaks a graciousness that’s disappearing from our world. Here’s an odd thought that came to me yesterday: lagniappe seems to demand human interaction. There’s not much chance of experiencing lagniappe with Amazon Prime.

      1. My associations were all work related. I would spend a couple of weeks most years working a convention in the city. Sometimes at my company’s office in the city, but, most times at the convention center along the river.

        And every trip I explored, I almost always drove over so as to have a way to get around.

        1. One of my customers brought his boat here after Katrina. Every now and then, he mutters about going back. I tell him I think he should, and that I’d be more than glad to go over to NOLA to do the maintenance.

  13. My mom is a Gulf Coast native, and I’ve been back and forth more times than I can count, so lagniappe is a word I’m most comfortable with. Thank you for explaining it so well to those unfamiliar with it. Too many times, we forget that others haven’t shared our experiences and therefore can’t know all we do!

    What a great idea, having a special place for your photos. I’m heading over there right now to check them out, and I know a feast awaits my senses!

    1. Of course you would know the word, Debbie. I’ll bet you’ve used it a few times yourself. A “Louisiana word” that evokes a similar response from me is “beignet.” If I think there are beignets around, I’m smiling. If I’ve ordered a plate of three, and four show up, that’s lagniappe, for sure.

      As a web designer, you would have smiled at some of my frustrations while setting up the second page. There’s always something that doesn’t turn out the way it’s “supposed” to, even when so much is cookie-cutter. There’s nothing quite like discovering something makes sense after days of muttering, “this doesn’t make sense.” I’ll bet you’ve had that experience, too.

      1. Oh, Linda, you’ve hit the nail on its head! Yes, indeed, so much of web design should make sense to me, but I get frustrated and fail to see the trees for the forest. But you know, when it all finally works, it’s a happy day (and one tends to forget how frustrated one was, ha!)

    1. Very interesting. I smiled at the mention of “beignet,” since I used that word in my comment to Debbie, just above. And it seems to me that Twain is pointing to the enlarged meaning of the word with his last two examples, about the extra drink and the coffee refill.

      I wondered, too, about his use of “lanny-yap.” I wonder if the pronunciation has changed, if it’s different in New Orleans, or if I haven’t listened carefully enough. I suppose all three are possible.

      1. I, too, wondered about Twain’s rendering of the word as “lanny-yap.” Non-scientific transliterations from one language to another are notoriously open to multiple interpretations, and therefore misinterpretations. The advent of sound recording a little over a century ago is more than a lagniappe to future linguists, who will be able to hear how people spoke in such and such a time and place.

  14. I feel sure I’ve heard the term, can’t recall when or where, though it must have been on one of our excursions to Louisiana. I love the childhood story by which you lead us in to follow the trail of the word.

    1. You might even have seen it, rather than hearing it. The word’s popularity is such that the marketers have taken to using it. There’s a chain of restaurants now called Louisiana Lagniappe, and an Illinois guesthouse near Grafton called Lagniappe Place.

      It’s rather like cruising through St. Martin parish and discovering the Evangeline Dry Cleaners, Evangeline Computer Repair, and the Evangeline Funeral Home along with the Evangeline Oak. The difference, of course, is that those names are historically-based and related to the area. “Lagniappe” has started traveling, and probably won’t stop for a while.

    1. It’s a wonderful word from a wonderful culture, Tina. “Laissez les bons temps rouler” is pretty well established now, so perhaps it’s time to start encouraging the use — and the custom — of lagniappe.

  15. I never pondered ‘lagniappe’ and ‘yapa’ being branches on the same tree…. Lagniappe was always a great something extra, and the yapa is something that is often ‘asked for’ by the consumer in the Andean area and then smile when the shopkeeper smiles with this, ‘How did she know that word?’ kind of expression… There is one vegetable lady who always hands a yapa to the consumer – there are times I am not even shopping there = i just poke my head in and say ‘Hola’ and she hands me something….

    Now I will smile and roll back to Louisiana memories and recall with fondness, ‘Lagniappes from the past.’

    Your new site is lovely!

    1. I thought it was interesting that Twain mentioned both in his description of the word: the gift proferred by the merchant, and the asking for “a little something extra” by the customer. It’s almost hidden, but it’s there: “When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying “Give me something for lagniappe.”
      That’s your “yapa,” I’d say.

      At market on Saturday, my favorite vendor had been given grapefruit by a customer. Since neither she nor her husband can eat them because of medications, she was plunking them into bags, two or three at a time. When she put some into my bags, she said, “There — a little something extra for you.” I smiled and smiled.

  16. Annie Dillard! She shook, rattled and rolled my world a decade ago. She’s fallen off my radar of late, but just her name recalls her scalpel-like facility with language. I can’t read her writing without goosebumps, sometimes with the feeling that someone lifted the top of my head and stuffed in more than I can handle in one sitting. “…pizzazz, given in good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” Thanks for that little something extra.

    1. I’ve re-read “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” so many times I can find my pull quotes without resorting to Google. My favorite chapter might be the one on “Seeing,” but the line above comes from the chapter on “Intricacy.” And who can forget the giant water bug? I don’t think anyone who reads Dillard forgets that one, or the tree with the lights in it.

      I suppose she’s either your cup of tea or she isn’t, but she certainly is mine. And her book, “The Writing Life,” is another gem. You probably know it, but if you don’t, it was like a revelation to me: suddenly, there was someone else whose process was much like my own. I ought to buy another copy, since mine’s falling apart. Currently, it’s $6.04 on Amazon — for the price of a cup of coffee at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, you can get all the inspiration, motivation, and doses of reality you can stand.

  17. I might have to take a trip to the US and try and ‘taste’ that part of which you write so evocatively. On the other hand, Linda, reading your words always gives me a good idea and yet leaves enough room for me to imagine even more.

    1. That’s the best part, Gerard — that you find some space for your own imaginings. That’s the way it should be. As for that trip to the US: maybe you should throw that up for consideration, along with the cruise. With Yvonne and I both in Texas, we could start you and Helvi off here. My, we could show you a good time — a real “taste” of Texas. And then? Who knows? That ought to give you something to imagine!

      1. That would be very nice. I always thought Texas to be interesting with its people being very hospitable and nicely talkative. Mind you; ‘True Grit and No Country for old Men,’ might have coloured my perception of Texas and skewed its somewhat. Then there was Bonanza, though that was in Nevada. Then that classic, The last Picture Show and then Steinbeck and all that. I have perhaps gone beyond Texas, but America is so big and fascinating. Your writing, Linda, has opened the window even wider.

        1. What a nice thing to say, Gerard. It’s true that Texas is big, and the country even larger, but it’s approachable, and holds so many delights. I’m glad you’re along for the ride!

    1. It’s warm, and it’s spring, and the rituals have begun. I rescued a turtle from the middle of 2094 today, The poor guy was hunkered down, trying to figure out why he’d thought crossing the road would be a good idea. He’s happy, now — over at the nature center, with all the mud and water and grasses he could want.

      No photo of him for the visual museum, though — and, thank goodness, no photo of mud-covered me. Life lesson #835: even if you think you don’t have time to put your boots on, put your boots on.

    1. Thanks, Curt. Clearly, my photos won’t be as dramatic as yours, but we’ll see what I can rustle up. If I do happen to come across a mutant vehicle in the neighborhood, you’ll certainly know about it!

      1. I’ve really seen a change in your photography over the past year, Linda, and how you use in in your blog. And I like it.
        Did you ever see the bull I featured that the Texas Burners came up with? It was quite impressive. I will likely be showing it again on Friday. –Curt

        1. I don’t remember the bull, but I surely have seen it. The wild assortment of images can tend to render any single one less dramatic. I’ll keep both eyes out for it. Those vehicles are the best.

  18. Wonderful post, wonderful word (that I only vaguely knew, thank you), wonderful Annie Dillard quote, wonderful Mark Twain quote – god, he’s always so refreshing – and what a wonderful way that you learned this word. OK, I’ve killed “wonderful.” I’m happy for you, leave it at that. And thank you for the extra bit!

    1. Here’s another little bit for you: this collection of Twain quotes, alphabetized by subject. You could go to “P,” click on the letter, and bring up his words of wisdom on photography, for example. Such a rascal he was.
      I think he and Dillard would have liked one another immensely; they both have pizzazz.

      I enjoyed putting this one together. It was especially fun to re-read the family history Fannie left us, and to read some of the post cards exchanged between the sisters while they still were in their 20s.You would have liked great-aunt Rilla, I think. She was Miss Malaprop. The one I always remember is her saying that “Tempus fidgets.” Of course, the “House of the Seven Grables” was pretty good, too.”

      1. Thank you! I may be tempted to use a few. I suppose you know how fortunate you are to have that family history and the postcards – I love “Tempus fidgets” – yes, word play is a sign of a creative mind, and I love it. But without your documentary expertise, these stories would be lost – keep going!

  19. Lagniappe is a new word for me. I’ve probably seen it before in Twain – but somehow I don’t remember it. I learn so many interesting things from you. I’m heading over right now to check out your new blog.

    1. Doesn’t “lagniappe” sound like it should involve whipped cream? Or maybe it’s like Tiramisu: layered lagniappe! It’s a great word — maybe you’ll find a use for it some day.

      I think you’ll enjoy the photos. In a way, it’s like trying out a new recipe.

  20. How wonderful! Life is very hectic at present, but next month I’m intending to slow down and catch up on ALL your writing I’ve missed, and now there’s to be the added excitement of your images too!

    1. You know, I have another reader who’s started living your lifestyle. She and her husband sold their house, bought a van, and are on the road. I’ll leave her link on your blog; I think you’ll find some of her musings interesting.

      It sounds like things are going well, even if they’re hectic. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you’ve been having some fun, along with your preparations!

    1. It’s always fun to come across words that are typical of a region or culture. It’s a little surprising how circumscribed they can remain, too. If it hadn’t been for my relatives in Louisiana, I probably wouldn’t have heard “langiappe” until I started traveling there a decade ago.

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the read — it’s kind of you to say so.

  21. Spring is slowly working its way into Southern Minnesota and for the first time last night, we were treated to a wind, heavy with the scent of freshly turned earth. It only lasts for a little while but it is a scent that lingers in memory.

    1. Indeed it does. There’s nothing like it here in Texas. The soil’s too thin, or too dry, or too differently composed. But that thick, black loam? It’s wonderful. On the other hand, cut grass is cut grass, and even here, the first cuttings in spring turn green from a visual treat to a scent.

    1. A friend and I were talking about our high school charm bracelets a while back. Neither of us had any idea what happened to them, and both of us wished we had them again. Maybe I can start a metaphorical bracelet, with some literary charms attached. I love that you thought this piece charming — I’ll make it the first one. Many thanks.

    1. It is beautiful, and it alliterates with your name, too. Salmon Brook Farms is lovely, but Lavinia’s Lagniappes has a bit of a lilt, don’t you think? Who knows? Lagniappe might make a nice title for a new song, too. I’m enjoying “The Keepsake” right now — thank you, for that.

  22. I’m so very excited you are introducing a new blog to accompany the Task at Hand! I, for one, will be an immediate follower.

    And I adored this story. I’d heard the word long ago, forgotten and never did know what it meant. Now I know. And like Mark Twain, I shall try to incorporate by the fourth day!

    1. Thanks, Jeanie. You and I spend our time differently, but we both have that impulse to fill it up, and I’d say this new venture is going to be plenty filling.

      Between Southern Exposure, and the Cork Poppers, and the new family member, I can imagine you’d have as much opportunity as anyone to use the word. I’m glad to have reminded you of it. Use it in good health, my dear.

    1. They’re wonderful memories, aren’t they? I’m glad to have evoked some for you, and I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. Thanks for your visit and your comment; you’re always welcome here.

    1. If only our adult troubles could be fixed so easily! I’m glad the story brought you a smile, and a tasty new word. Sometimes I wonder if my own taste for good lemonade goes back to those childhood days when it was plentiful — and always freshly made from real lemons.

  23. What a lovely childhood story and what a delicious new word! I loved the picture too, now I shall take myself off to check out your new blog, how exciting!xxx

    1. Isn’t it a good word? Now you can tote it around with you, and maybe find a use for it. The good thing about toting words is that they don’t weigh anything, and don’t have to be checked at an airline counter — they’re perfectly transportable!

      Honestly, I don’t know what possessed me to start a second blog. Like so many things in life, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. So, we’ll see if it turns out that way.

  24. What a great idea! I have been posting some photos on Instagram recently but they are decidedly less artistic, and really serve as a kind of record for myself of happenstances and such that come upon me. I have always been drawn to image as much as word, and sometimes try to marry the two on my blog. But I have enjoyed posting images that are simply intriguing to me, and tell their own story rather than illustrate another. I am looking forward to seeing more of your images!

    1. Like you, I enjoy both words and images. Sometimes I combine them, and I probably won’t ever be able to post images on “Lagniappe” without at least a few words, but there are some photos I have that just don’t fit into any larger story line. Let’s face it: some photos are novels, some are sonnets, and some are limericks — but even limericks can be fun! I’ll have fun with my new site, and I hope you do, too.

  25. Lagniappe is everywhere if folks would just stop to notice. Now I will have to see if I can work that word into conversations.
    Had I been you, I think I would have been sad too, thinking I had to take a long nap.

    1. Actually, I have some great memories of summer naptime at home and at my grandparents’ house — I got to keep my books with me — but taking a nap during a visit to Louisiana and missing whatever was happening next? Horror. I had a second or third cousin named Leroy who was a few years older and more than happy to let me tag along with he and his friends, so it was heaven for this only child.

  26. Another wonderful, tender, and informative post. I love that word lagniappe. It certainly happens a lot in our everyday life! Beautiful photo of the Spanish moss.
    It’s wonderful to be about to laugh at our own jokes. Lately I have found myself to be too entertaining, one afternoon I looked down at my feet and had different colored shoes on. Laughter is good for the soul.

  27. I suppose, like any word, “lagniappe” could be overused, but honestly? I don’t think it’s used enough. And wouldn’t the world be better off if we all thought now and then to offer those around us a little extra? I think so, and I know you do, too.

    We have Spanish moss here in Texas, but nothing like the beautiful displays I’ve seen in Louisiana and Mississippi. A friend in Louisiana taught me a trick: if you want to gather it, be sure and take some that’s never touched the ground. If you take it only from trees, apparently it won’t have little critters living in it. I read, too, that moss-gatherers in Louisiana used to put it in washtubs filled with water, then dry it after all the insects had drowned. If you were going to use it for mattresses or pillows, that would be important.

    Speaking of laughter, there’s a line from a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “The earth laughs in flowers…” I hope the earth is laughing all around you!

  28. There is certainly nothing wrong in taking pleasure in one’s own work. Far better than the alternative which is never being satisfied with your own things. Even though I have to say with myself at least, do I like it simply because I have invested time and love in it rather than it having its own unique value. Kind of the The Little Prince and his rose.

    1. I came across an interesting sentence or two in Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse” recently: “Perhaps it was better not to see pictures: they only made one hopelessly discontented with one’s own work.”

      Her subject was painting, but the words also point to one of the dangers of following skilled photographers. I have to keep a firm hand on myself, because “I’ve never done anything like that” can morph into “I never could do anything like that,” and at that point, discouragement can eat away at both the time and love being invested. It seems to me that being able to be realistic about others’ work and our own is as necessary as learning how to set the shutter or judge the light.

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