The Capitaines and the Chickens

Boudreaux’s been much on my mind of late.

In 2012, not long after I’d written a thing or two about chickens in art and literature, he emailed a suggestion: “Cher, you want the complete chicken experience, come to Cajun country for a real Mardi Gras. They dance for chickens over here.”

As proof, he sent along Pat Mire’s documentary, Dance for a Chicken. After watching the hour-long film with a certain degree of astonishment, I tucked the link into my bookmarks and resolved to make my own run to the Louisiana prairie to witness the celebrations.

A year later, and the year after that, I remembered Boudreaux’s email only after it was too late to make plans. Each year, I watched the film again and thought,”Next year.”

This year, I remembered, and made some inquiries. After a few phone calls, a conversation or two, and a text, I had the name and address of a Church Point family willing to host a visitor from Texas. I called a friend who lives in Louisiana’s bayou country and said, “Pack your bags. We’ve got chickens waiting.” Continue reading

It’s Their Nation, Too

Despite the drought, despite an area-wide ban on the sale or use of fireworks and despite even the children being denied their sparklers and snakes, the traditional Independence Day show will go on in Houston. Billed as an “extraordinary extravaganza”, the Freedom Over Texas festival is a wonderful event that also exemplifies the sort of hyperbolic excess dear to the hearts of civic boosters everywhere.

Houston’s not alone, of course. Washington D.C. planners are promoting “spectacular” fireworks explosions over the Washington Monument.  Huntington Beach promises the “largest parade west of the Mississippi River”.  New York City will be “displaying its patriotism through massive fireworks” and Boston intends to celebrate “in a big way”. San Francisco and Chicago  will provide “magnificent” and “breath-taking” events, while New Orleans will tow out a barge to make it all happen. Not to be outdone, San Diego will be broadcasting their “Big Bay Boom”  live to the web with helicopter views, ensuring that the rest of the country will have opportunity to see the show “rated Number Seven by the travel industry”. Continue reading

This Most Modest of Seasons

Christmas comes differently to the country.

Threaded around and through twin pieces of rusted rebar that serve as mailbox supports, the shabbiness of the plastic pine garland is apparent only to the mail carrier, or to the woman who trudges in slippers up the lane from her house, hoping against hope to find greetings in her box.  From the road the garland appears perfect, full and fresh.  From a distance, even plastic communicates the woman’s message: in this house, we celebrate. We mark the season. We share our joy with you, the passer-by.

Farther down the road,  a wreath made of vines adorns a gate closed across a cattle guard.  Its ribbon flutters in the wind, attracting attention, drawing the eye through the gate and into a pasture.  There’s a brush pile and some uncleared mesquite. A few trees, pushed over and left to die, wait to be added to the pile.  Despite the cattle guard, no livestock roam. There’s no stock tank, no house or pond – not even a pile of rusted, broken-down machinery.  Only a despondent wind sighs through the fence and across the field. Continue reading