Yesterday morning I was reminded of sweet tea & fried pickles....which made me remember this lil store/eatery on a small lakeshore where we went a few times when I first visited & moved down there. In that slow southern way, it took an hour for our food to be put on the table, but their pizza sauce was amazing and the sunsets that hit that side of the lake were absolutely gorgeous. The first time we went, we sat with a couple friends lounging in the water, played catch together, and enjoyed a few beers. It seriously was a perfectly simple spring afternoon & evening. The type that I hoped would be an example of the future.
This tree is an image that has always stuck in my mind and I can still feel the spring heat and buzzing. The tree itself was located at the nearest airport.
We used to make a drive to our favorite little spot to eat in Nachitoches about every other month or so. The drive there was windy and pretty empty but I loved to make it if only to get away for a little while. The restaurant we frequented at was small, with great outdoor patio seating, and the river a little bit away. I don't think I'll ever have as good of eggplant parmesean as I did at that location and the seasonal strawberry beer was equally amazing. The ex always ordered whatever was on special and I don't think he ever left disappointed. The town is known for its history, its food, and its Christmas light celebration. We took my aunt there the summer that granny fell and I also took a solo daytrip to explore the shops along its main avenue.
Honestly some of my favorite memories have to do with the consistency of my running, even if I now wish that I would have been at this current level so I could have embraced more of the trails that were straight out my door. But I have so many great memories of grabbing the dogs post work and heading out to log at least a few miles. One of the other husbands in the neighborhood (who he and his wife were dear friends) made a great running buddy and so he and I would head out on occasion, but my first ever 8 miler was an amazing evening jog through the trails with the ex and the dogs. I don't know that I'll ever forget the awesomeness of that particular run.
I honestly enjoyed the ability to watch the seasons change through our back windows:
The house had a great back patio for sitting, thinking, & watching the weather/seasons.
There was an evening a year or so after I'd been there, when I got to go into the training area to see the herd of wild horses. Literally hundreds of wild horses on an old dirt landing zone just operating in their normal, natural state...and the dogs unsure what to think. I finally got to see a little more of the behind the scenes of where and how the day-to-day work operations of the guys functioned also. The rest of that evening was equally simple and uplifting, just driving around in the truck through the woods.
And while I didn't usually enjoy the moments of chaos with many of the local "friends," I really appreciated and enjoyed being able to participate in a true Louisiana crawfish boil. I love connecting to a places original culture.
Amazingly, this is the only hike I went on in the South but it was neat getting to explore some of the local flora and fauna, and I wish there would have been many more moments like this:
There were other great simple moments of day trips to the nearest lake to clear my head, the clothes line hanging in the garage or other "trying to stay green" moments, moments getting and enjoying the animals and the like, but the ones listed above were some of the happiest. In hindsight, I really did/do enjoy the little things more than the grander things usually. I had some amazing trips across the south during my time down there and I also have to say that I really loved the job that I had down there as well. I never thought I'd want to go back to New Orleans but in the last several months, I've realized that it'd be a different experience if I saw it my way and truly got to embrace more of the overall culture and history of the place. There's so much that was intended to see the time that Granny was to make it to NOLA and much of that I feel that I missed. So we'll see how the future pans out, but one of my gals and I are in talks about trying to make a low-key NOLA trip in our 5 year plan future :)
Little parts of Louisiana are still ingrained in me. I still relish the amazingness of Oregon in comparison, I still soak up the sun that we get and remember how nice those 80 degree December days felt, I still season salmon and eggs on occasion with Cajun flavoring, I still search for Abita beer at New Seasons, and I have taken to the occasional seafood boil. The experience of living there made me incredibly glad for what Oregon and other areas offer, but not without realizing that rural Louisiana did also have some of its own simple pleasures. Regardless of the downsides and what was lost in the process, I'm incredibly grateful for the exposure to another part of our nation, and I in no way doubt that those moments and memories will continue to shape me into the future.