When it Gets Cold in Louisiana
For the record, cold weather doesn’t bother me, but the hot weather wears me down and coincidentally I'm really tired of it by mid October. So I welcome our recent little yep-fall-is-really-finally-here cool snaps with joy although as a native I am fully aware that there is no such thing as packing away the shorts and flip flops for winter.
As soon as the temperature dipped below 70° I began seeing people in the grocery store in pull over sweaters buying gumbo ingredients. Even the first morning the temperature plunged to 63°, there I was at the deli case in shorts and a polo shirt buying cat head biscuits and sawmill gravy next to a woman in a hooded parka and ski mask. It was noticeable that the winter clad and lightly clad of us were occasionally eyeing each other with equivalent suspicion.
We all know the weather here can change over the course of a few hours from tropic to arctic and back again with a mix of wind monsoon and sunshine in there somewhere. But this time of year there are definite signs of cooler weather in the air that even if you slept all summer and woke up just this week you’d quickly deduce from your surroundings that fall has definitely hit this Ville.
Signs of Fall or Now You Know It’s Really Time To Start Thinking About Fruitcake
Gumbo Gumbo everywhere you go. As if there was a switch up in the sky that passing cool fronts trip and turn on the Roux Operations Central machine. The first night of cooler temps usually brings out the family recipe for the (your name here) world famous cold weather comfort food.
With early morning temperatures in the lower 60s already, you can roll over and hit the snooze alarm easily self-convinced it’s too cold for your morning run. After all the sudden induction of frigid weather into your summer-time lungs must be a bad thing, yes? Why risk pneumonia.
Younger kids wake up asking if school is being cancelled due to cold 50° morning weather when the afternoon high is still expected to be 85°. Let the children down easy.
You notice every body thinks they can make Gumbo. Raise your hand if at some point you haven't finished a bowl out of pity, it could be choked down but barely and you didn't want to insult the cook but there's just a limit to cayenne pepper usage. Once a client moved here from California, brought her Gumbo into the office for a few of us, insisting she was a masterful cook and was learned in all regional food choices (those were her actual words) there was so much pepper my eyes and nose were running. There was a line at the water fountain, everyone was gagging.
Being from California she had a lot of other colorful phrases, sayings and thoughts. Probably a good thing her company moved her on to the east coast. It's easy to imagine her now treating some lucky east coast vendors to her goulash, I hope there's plenty of water to wash it down and I wish the best of luck to them all.
And by the bye, the same situation essentially exists in Texas too, except the menu calls for chilli, and there's the delicious and not so good. And for the record, chilli does not have beans and the potato salad goes into the gumbo.
People that have let precious expensive cool dry chilled air seep out of their houses all summer suddenly become concerned about the cold air seeping in on the first 40° night. Now they're busy handy-men and women at the big hardware outlets buying and installing new storm doors, caulking and weather stripping on the outer doors. Weather stripping on the doors always lasted just about four months before the upper end would peel off just when I'm coming through the door with armloads of groceries, usually knocking the eggs out of the bag.
No matter how record setting cold it gets or warm it stays, those older than you have seen it better/worse than you could ever possibly begin to imagine. Especially true in our oilfields. You may somehow find yourself up to your ears in solid ice, barely breathing through your nose, you escape to tell your incredible story and between bites of his Darrell's one of the lifers tells you about the time he dug himself out of forty feet of ice. All you got was a taste of dat cold and one day you'll see for yourself, you.
And the all-time favorites; the sound of a crackling fire in the pit at night under clear starry skies and the curls of coffee steam rising into the air first thing in the morning. LSU on Saturday evening and family over for the Thanksgiving weekend, seeing how big the babies are getting and how much older the aunts and uncles are looking, the laugh lines etching deeper every year.
Those are just some of the things to be seen and felt when it gets cold in Louisiana.