"Deus, qui dividens aquas ab arida..." The words echoed on this August morning over the softly agitated waves where the two bayous converged. God, who had separated sea from land, was being asked once again to grant favor to those who follow the water. Two thousand years earlier, the first Christians sought by ceremonial to involve safety and good fortune for the ships that they sent across the Mediterranean. Centuries later, off the Normandy and Brittany coasts, French peasant-fishermen knelt while their priests intoned the same words. In coastal Louisiana, with rites that have changed little through the years, the Church of Rome was bestowing its blessing on the shrimp fleet.We had risen before dawn, and everybody had helped stow things into the family lugger. Yesterday, Papa and the boys had put the last touches on the shining vessel, after days of scouring and painting it with white and green. Like all the neighbors, we had our line of small colored flags flying in the breeze, nets newly tarred, and all the family arranged on deck, in chairs from the kitchen, or otherwise disposed beneath the canvas, so that we would not boil as red as crawfish in the sun. The girls were in crisp blue taffeta. Papa had on his best starched khaki pants, and Maman and Grand'meme wore their stiff black bonnets. For an hour now we had moved along the lakes and inlets and other waters, crowding among hundreds of others on the same route, waving bonjour as we went.
About four thousand or so had arrived and Mass had started. From the place we chose we could see and hear everything. Under the oak at the edge of the shore the mothers' society of the congregation had set up a white altar, with flowers from the woods. Dwarfed by the girth of the great tree was a miniature organ, connected to a sound truck. On other days the oak-lined spread of green was a picnic-ground; now it became a cathedral, the arched branches forming the groins. The crowd, seated on the grounds, half in shadow, turned to the Archbishop in his golden cape and tall miter, a resplendent figure, against the background of darting silver of the water, the green and lavender of the hyacinths, the slow movement of the boats. Incense floated up the dripping gray moss, and the sound of the altar bell rang out. Automatically all who had stayed on their boats dropped to their knees with the others on shore. The prelate, next taking up his sermon, recalled that the disciples of Christ were
drawn from the fishermen of Galilee. Through the night, at the Lake they cast in vain. Then He told them to try once more, and lo! the nets came heavily loaded. Now there would be days when you too would cast with no success, but be not discouraged, because His eyes will be on you. And in the storm, when your boat tosses like a thing leaf , hold firm.The organ notes reached their climax, and Mass was over. The greatest moments were to come. A rush to the boats. Chanting the Litany of the Saints, the Archbishop, his assistants, and the altar boys were moving across the grass to the bank and to the vessel that awaited there. Slowly it moved toward a central position, and on the two hundred or so luggers, hearts began to beat faster. As each boat approached the Archbishop, all dropped to their knees, heads lowered. The prelate then dipped his gold aspergillum into the container of holy water and lifted it high. As the boats passed, the drops fell on the scrubbed deck, on the nets, and on the shoulders

of the nearest ones. Today was more than a religious occasion; it was the great social day of the bayous. On both sides of the bayou awaited much delicious food. Shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish for ALL!. Dancing and games, the best music in the world, laughing and visiting. It is
truly a festive event. It is HOME.


Twas on the eighth of January,
Just at the dawn of day
We spied those British officers, All dressed in battle arrary
Old Jackson then gave orders, "Each man to keep his post,
And form a line from right to left and let no time be lost."

With rockets and bombshells, like comets we let fly;
Like lions they advanced on us, the fate of war to try.
Large streams of fiery vengeance upon them we let pour
While many a brave commander lay withering in his gore.

Thrice they marched up to the charge, and thrice they gave the ground;
We fought them full three hours, then bugle horns did sound.
Great heaps of human pyramids lay strewn before our eyes;
We blew the horns and rang the bells to drown their dying cries.

Come all you British noblemen, and listen unto me;
Our frontiersmen has proved to you America is free.
But tell your royal master when you return back home
that out of thirty thousand men but few of you returned.
Graphics by: Rosie's Backgrounds