Batavia Bayou Cross-Cultural Conference

As I was saying, the Mumbo Gumbo band had some great New Orleans rhythm going on, and the faithful few of us hung in to the very end.  Between songs, we heard rumors of snow coming during the night.  And rumors of maybe even two to three inches the next day.

Heather (LilSis) had rented a car for us, of course, but neither one of us had really ever driven in the snow.  We were just a little bit worried about doing so.

Sure enough, next morning found us looking out the window at a scene we rarely ever see in Louisiana, much less south Louisiana.

Two of the other guest speakers hitched a ride with us to the conference Saturday morning; and one of them, Pete, being originally from West Virginia, advised Heather on how to drive.  The city of Batavia, NY does a pretty good job of keeping the streets clean–I guess they have to.  Something we don’t worry about down here.

By the time we arrived at Genesee Community College, the snow was really coming down, and I was wishing I had my hooded camouflage hunting jacket rather than the dressy coat I was wearing.  Leave it to me–Dotter loaned me a warm scarf to go with that coat for wrapping around my head and neck, but it was back in the hotel room, still in the suitcase.  Hello?  Bayou Woman?  It’s SNOWING outside.

But, folks, it wasn’t just a few flakes dropping softly to the white earth.  No, no, nothing poetic like that.

I T     W A S     R E A L      S N O W  >  >  >  >

And the the wind was blowing so hard, that the snow was going horizontally.  There were gusts up to 50 mph.  Say what?

Once inside, Heather and I were just amazed at the velocity and volume of the snow.  What was also amazing is how dry the snow was.  We could just shake if off our coats, and it seemed to vanish.  Down here, if it snows, it’s so wet that it doesn’t last long.

We pretty much provided entertainment for the college staff and students, who watched us ohhing and ahhing over the wind-driven snow. I heard one student say, “Oh my gosh.  Can you believe she’s taking a picture of THAT?”

Well, yes, why not?  That’s just one of the coolest contraptions I’ve ever seen attached to a John Deere tractor.  It’s a big round brush that brushes the snow off the street and into a pile.  Pretty cool!  It’s much better for the street than metal plows that scrape the surface.

It appeared, though, that I wasn’t the only one taken with the view.

On the left is guest speaker R. Dennis, from Delgado Community College in New Orleans, center is Heather G., owner of Nest Realty in Shreveport, LA, and right is Diane H. of Bayou Grace in Chauvin, LA.

The conference began with Pete Nunnally, volunteer missions coordinator for Episcopal Community Services who works with disaster recovery in New Orleans.  His program offers a one-year internship program for college-aged people who want to serve their fellow man for a year and grow spiritually.  Pretty neat stuff.  He drew images of what actually happened as the levees began breaching along the “fall-out canals” in Mid City New Orleans.

Next was Diane, and I just loved this slide.  Note the price of gas.  I sure hope we don’t see signs like that sprouting up around here any time soon!  Diane talked about coastal land loss, the causes, and the value to the nation of restoring coastal Louisiana.

After lunch, while everyone was taking their naps, it was my turn to talk about the disappearing culture and way of life.  I regretfully flew through my slides in order to keep the attention of the few students who were not already “sawing logs”.

Raymonda Dennis, sociology professor at Delgado, spoke about her first-hand experience as one family whose home was flooded in New Orleans East.  She spoke about the trials they faced of making the decision to come back and rebuild their home.  Her presentation on the very human element of what storms do to interrupt our lives sparked lots of questions and lively conversations afterward.  I, for one, really appreciated hearing a first-hand story of how evacuation and flooding affected a “city” family.

Lori Mould, who started these “alternative spring breaks” at Genesee Community College and planned this event (a major undertaking), is headed down here again this month, more students in tow, to continue helping with the recovery effort.  It will be my honor to have her, once again, on my boat.  She is an amazing woman, to say the least.

Thank you, Lori, for all you’ve done, for the conference, and for coming back again.

As well as this young lady, Britt B., who really impressed me with her testimony.  I hope she returns, as well, for a third trip with me out into the marshes.  She and her fellow students took turns at the podium sharing how their trips to south Louisiana changed their lives forever.  From listening to their testimonies, I truly believe they have caught hold of the Spirit of Louisiana.  Or maybe it has caught hold of them.

And last, but not least, there is this young man . . .

David Dodge, who has been down here once and came to the conference from University of Buffalo and has planned an “alternative spring break” for thirty of his fellow students.  David has already made arrangements to include a wetland tour for all thirty of them as part of their south Louisiana recovery experience.  He took his cues from Lori and was a smart cookie to do so.

Looks like I’m going to be super busy the week of March 13 – 19, but I’ll do my best to come back with tour pics of these outstanding folks.

To Lori, Britt, David, and all the rest, I just want to again give you a big south Louisiana T H A N K S!  The gators are awake, ready, and waiting for your arrival!

Finally feeling human,


To be continued with the Zydeco Party!!!  Yep, there’s more!



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  1. I love it–these people not only talk, they also walk the walk. I hope someone taped this, BW.

    And the snow–I wish I could have watched you two!

  2. Yep that was snow ok. We used to have in this little village a garden tractor mounted hydraulic brush that did side walks I wish we had one to do streets. Place looks just like the Community College I went too. No hot babes like Lori though.

    Least they find out NOLA isn’t the only game there.

  3. That slide you like so much…it’s almost that bad now. You’ve been ill and haven’t been to the gas station. Be glad your truck isn’t a diesel! It cost over $100 to fill up Hubby’s truck the other day! We had to use one of the grandchildren as a deposit while he was filling up.

  4. Catching up on your great articles about the CC event. A good time with some outstanding folks. But as far as that horizontal snow stuff goes…well now you understand why I haven’t been able to bring myself to leave south Louisiana after two and a half years when I only intended to stay one. And of course the food and the people and the culture and the heritage and the music and the fishing and the wildlife and the landscape and all manner of characteristics that make south Louisiana the unique treasure that it is might have a little something to do with it as well. But avoiding that horizontal and vertical and diagonal and upside down and inside out snow is one heck of a great perk. Laissez les bons temps rouler, baby!

    1. Yes, it’s the “and of course…” part that keeps me coming down there more often than I probably should. It was great getting to know you, Diane, and to learn more about what you are doing to help the people and the region.

  5. Glad you are back to normal. Great photos and info. That is the way the snow slapped us the first part of Feb. But, it had ice first and was nice and slick.

    Steffi, my husband put gas in his pickup (not diesel) this evening and said when it $90, he just gave up and turned off the pump. He only got about 1/2 tank too! His truck was a custom order and has a 40 gallon tank. EEEKKKS!

    1. Well, I would not say normal yet. Went to exercise class Wed. night and it almost killed me. I had no idea I could get so weak lying in bed for a few days. Just shows me that my body does not bounce back like it once did. It’s a sign of age, no doubt. Thanks for being here, Cammy! I love reading your comments and insight. BW