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A Winter Story

The morning was especially cold, and the sky was the perfect gray hue to match the bare trees. I haven’t heard the owl in many days but, curiously, I may have seen him hunting during the daylight yesterday. The small birds are quiet now and I know their water sources are frozen, for it was a killing frost. My heart is heavy for the small animals that had to survive these nights of extreme cold, winter is harsh. It is necessary and beautiful, but it is harsh. The Full Wolf Moon will rise on the 25th and soon, the robins will come from the woods, but not yet, for winter is here. The world moves on.

I am moving on also, moving on into a place of less interaction, less socialization, less knowledge of temporary trends and unsolicited opinions, and more introspection and time to be quiet, time to hear my voice. Sounds like an easy thing to do, but it is not. The information highway has turned into a freeway of sorts, and it never slows down; it can be quite reckless and foreboding. To be theatrical, I sometimes feel assaulted. This ‘information’ might be somewhat helpful, I suppose, if it were accurate and true, but I fear, it is mostly not. Reality is losing this race and illusion is winning.

These concerned thoughts disturbed my sleep this morning. To combat the ‘doom and gloom’ that sometimes visits me in the depth of night, I came here to write of a simpler time, to remember life before social media and too much information, a life that was nearly void of illusion.

My thoughts took me to 1961 and Landry Drive. I was seven, nearly eight and we had moved here the year before. My dad was working for Dia–Log in the New Orleans area and was transferred to the New Iberia location. The shop was on a faraway road named Admiral Doyle. My little sister, Susan, was three and my mother was expecting my brother, Dwayne. We were a family of five in a new town, renting a small house on Landry Drive. I was in second grade in Mrs. Pharr’s class at Susan Terrell. My mom joined the PTA and Mr. Burt Terrell was the much-revered principal. Mrs. Pharr wore a dress each day and Mr. Terrell wore a suit and tie.

I remember the little house on Landry Drive. It had two bedrooms and a family bathroom in between the two. The kitchen was open and flowed into the living room. There was a dinette set in the kitchen where my dad taught me to play Solitaire and a big backyard with a swing. The Duhon family lived next door. They had three boys and we caught lightning bugs in mason jars that summer. My mom and Mrs. Lois were neighbors who became friends.

People knew their neighbors then and moms visited. Their children played in backyards, while they had coffee and kitchen conversation; it was all so wondrous and fun. Once, while living there, my sister and I ‘caught measles’. My mom was pregnant, so she called Dr. Musso, our family doctor, and he came to our little house on Landry Drive with his big black bag and treated us…imagine.

As I said, I was a student at Susan Terrell. Most days I walked to school, my mom had a newborn and a four-year-old at home. I carried my book satchel and off I went…seven years old. Along the way, I stopped at Cynthia’s house, and we continued to walk until we were at Jennifer’s house. Finally, the three of us crossed the vacant lot (which is still there) and entered the (unfenced) schoolyard. No one called to tell our mothers we had arrived safely, and no one worried at all, because there was nothing to worry about.

That whole area was somewhat of a hub then. E.P. Breaux was on the corner and his brother was somewhat adjacent and had a pharmacy, Breaux’s Pharmacy, with a soda counter. Across the side street, Jennifer’s dad had a mechanic shop, and a little further down Jane Street was the Dugas Brothers grocery store. The neighborhood was filled with young families and a bustling retail presence; we hardly went further into town; everything was nearby and viable.

I could go on and on with the foggy and, therefore, idyllic memories I hold, but this is enough to cause a bittersweet reaction…happy to have had those carefree days of childhood and sad to see much of the people and places are gone…

I hope a few of you were able to connect to some of this retro conduit. We all have our stories and the older we become, the more ‘unreal’ they seem.

It is winter now, and like nature, which goes deep into the Earth, so should we. It is time to slow down a bit and perhaps find resolve in our lives and reemerge in spring with hope and encouragement.

I conclude with a long overdue 'virtual' ‘thank you’ to my parents for providing me with moments in childhood to remember with security and warmth…69 years later, I can still ‘go there’. Plant those seeds in spring, for their fruit will be needed in winter. #winter #newiberia #southlouisiana #seeds #owls #winterbirds #life #longago

Pam Shensky

Berry Tales

January 20, 2024

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