Kathryn on Arizona Lakeshore

Where does the time go?

I watch the weather and news across the United States and Canada and re-live my times and places where I’ve spoken with so many of you through the years.

I never dreamed I’d be a speaker and make such great friends through my work. But I’m grateful for each of you and for each prayer in which I’m included – for your letters, calls and e-mails I’ve slowed up on the distant travel some to devote more time to writing and take more area engagements I couldn’t when doing so much distance speaking.

After 9/11 and after Katrina almost all flights out of New Orleans involve a full day’s travel each way. Have to leave early because of distance, parking, and security – almost all involve plane changes. Now with luggage charges, I don’t want to add to my hosts’ expenses.

Despite everything though I’m happy to say I still after 31 years full time in this field have never missed nor been late for an engagement. I’ve continued to keep my speaking fees the lowest of any I know so that I can accept invitations where needed.

I’ve never asked for anyone to commit to sending money. I felt if I give my best in working for you and you do your best for me, things work out. When I’m mixing and mingling with my people in between or after speaking I want each to know I’m sincerely interested in you and not buttering you up to give money.

I’m writing this on a beautiful Spring day and although we’ve had some 90 degree days already, the windows are open with a cool breeze blowing. Here in my town and parish, strawberry season is almost over.

When I was a little girl our town was the only one that dismissed school at the end of March so children could work in the strawberry fields to help their parents or for school money. We started back in early July with temps and humidity both so high our clothes stuck to the newly-varnished desks. Only one teacher’s class had air-conditioning because she had allergies.

Later our school joined everybody else’s schedule when children no longer worked and welfare became available to so many who no longer wanted to work. Migrant workers started coming in then and continue to save the day.

Now newer varieties of strawberries are being developed so what used to be planting time in November is now the first harvesting. So our season runs from November through May. Our town is famous world wide for its sweet strawberries.

In April we had our annual Strawberry Festival which brought in close to 300,000 people that weekend. So far keeping it family oriented.

In our parish alone each town is known for something and has its own festival so we have along I-55 weekends festivals for Dairy, Oyster, and Italian… plus music festivals.

Louisianans love to eat. As the expression goes, “If it moves or it grows, we eat it.” So some places have festivals for Frog, Crawfish, Alligator, Catfish, Shrimp, Rice, Sugar Cane to give you an idea.

Someone told me yesterday if you can answer, “Who’s yo’ mama? Are you Cat’lic? Can you cook a roux?” then they know you’re from South Louisiana!

I remember once I was many a mile from here in a grocery deli and when the lady went to serve my plate, I asked if I could have my red beans on top of my rice. She stopped her ladle in mid-air and asked, “Where you from?” She knew I had to be from South Louisiana as no one else asks for beans on top of rice! Turned out she was from right here in my own town!

Of course, when you buy it here in a restaurant it’s not rung up as two items… always one. And most of us still eat red beans and rice on Mondays the way it was done so many years ago when the ladies of the house did their laundry on Mondays with no time to cook inside. Just had their big black kettles outside – boiling and washing clothes in some — cooking red beans that had soaked overnight in soda water in another – rice in still another.

And from the Catholic heritage most of us still eat seafood on Fridays. We’re in crawfish season right now so had some good bisque. I’ve recently enjoyed a good alligator burger, had fried oyster sandwich, fried shrimp po’ boy last week and fancy grits and shrimp yesterday at a ladies’ tea. Is there any wonder I work out at Curves most days a week?

Of course, right now we’re watching the oil slick and folks are buying up seafood even faster than usual knowing how much in demand it is across the country. But don’t let the national media frighten you away. BP was on the job from minute one and everyone is fighting hard to keep our waters and wetlands safe.

Seafood is going to be available and safe as it’s being harvested from waters carefully tested and clear. So if you’ve plans to come south this summer, come right ahead. In New Orleans all the conventions are still coming with no major cancellations.

Our azaleas have finished their season now and down here they grow sometimes 15’ or more high – fully loaded. Purple and white wisterias have finished now too. What beauty as they hung from tall trees where their vines were wrapped! Loads of other beautiful flowers are in full bloom, roses too.

So it’s a beautiful place. A friendly place. Folks make eye contact and ask, “How ya doin’? How’s ya mama and ‘em?”

Left from the French and Italian lots of us leave off the “th’s” when home…leave out parts of the verbs. It’s a different world. One almost needs a passport to visit.

I’m writing a weekly column for an area newspaper and that’s introduced me to even more of our friendly folks.

So be sure to visit South Louisiana if you’ve never been. As dey say in duh French country, “You’ll sho pass a good time!”