Rice Farming

 - From the Editor -

God’s country:
It’s worth the visit

By Carroll Smith

Being from Louisiana means I will always have a special fondness for the Pelican State. The first time I returned after moving away, I could tell I was home as soon as I crossed the state line. It’s hard to explain, but the sense of familiarity I felt was almost tangible, like hugging an old friend that you haven’t seen in quite a while.

One of my favorite parts of the state is south of I-10. I highly recommend this beautiful, historic area as a “must visit” for anyone who has the opportunity to do so. Recently, I had a chance to travel to St. Martin Parish while working on an article about the Durand brothers’ rice and crawfish operation (Page 6). They farm in what’s called the Louisiana lowlands, consisting of the coastal marshes and the Mississippi floodplain.

Wildlife is abundant and particularly attracted to the crawfish ponds and rice fields that dot the landscape. In fact, scientific studies have shown that the Durand farm is home to more than 250 species of birds, including all types of waterfowl and those that prefer the surrounding woods.

Just as the countryside is hauntingly beautiful, the parish seat of St. Martin Parish – St. Martinville – has a mystique all of its own. The third oldest town in Louisiana is in the heart of Cajun country, and its architecture is truly exquisite. Two prime examples are the St. Martin de Tours Catholic Church and La Maison Duchamp. I also encourage you to take a walk along scenic Bayou Teche.

Another “don’t miss” landmark to include in your Acadian experience is the Evangeline Oak. Evangeline was the heroine in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, and local legend says that this towering oak with its moss-draped branches is where two Acadian lovers were reunited. And, according to www.acadianmemorial.org, a statue of Evangeline was donated by Delores del Rio after she starred in the motion picture adaptation of Longfellow’s “Evangeline,” filmed in the area in 1929.

Although most call it Cajun country, I call it God’s country. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that has such fun-loving, hard-working people, authentic Cajun and Creole food that you will remember and crave long after you have left and natural beauty that is almost surreal.

Bienvenue en Louisiane!

Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Call (901) 767-4020 or e-mail csmith@onegrower.com.