⌗AtoZ Challenge, 29th April 2020, Y is for Yarn on Yodeling in the Bayou.


Welcome to my blog Life in Poetry.

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Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge

Nearly there, Hang On, light at the end of the tunnel.

Quote of the Day :  Choose to work in what you like to do and you’ll never have to work a day

                                  in your life.

Confucius (555-479 BC)

if you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, founded 11 years ago by Arlee Bird at Tossing Out,  read here

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On WordPress, read here 

This next to last extract from my novel in progress will appear towards the middle of the novel. Mathilda is in Bayou country, Louisiana.

Brief synopsis of plot and characters :

Mathilda, my first main character, is American and lives in New York City. She is a student at NYU where she is preparing a thesis on the origins and developments of African American Music. She is a first person narrator. Her timeframe is 2005. In my previous extracts, Mathilda has travelled to New Orleans, Jekyll Island, Hattiesburg, Tuscaloosa, Florida, Savannah and Cherokee.

Bartolomé, my second main character, is Cameroonian and lives in Yaoundé. He is a professor of Mathematics at the University there. I will be using a third-person narrator for this character from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early ’90’s. In my previous extracts, Bartolomé has made a trip up North for his grand-father’s funeral and decided to leave Yaoundé behind for good.

Y is for Yarn on Yodeling in the Bayou

We are sitting around the campfire, deep in the bayou, I don’t even know where exactly, all I know is we left Crown point in the canoes at dawn. Every arm of water and dripping branches looked the same to me and we had been paddling all day.

When we spent the evening at the Cajun Cabin over on Bourbon Street with Duke and his Cajun friend Thomas, he had suggested a camping trip through the swamp South West of New Orleans. I didn’t really feel up to it at first, the damp heat and all those creepy-crawlies, but Duke kept on at me, so after the visit to the St Louis Cemeteries, I gave in.

So here I am , exhausted, bitten to the bone, despite my long sleeves, drenched and smelly, trying to maintain my cheer by the fire, a frozen smile on my lips, eyes drooping, with only one desire, to crawl into my knapsack.

After a hearty meal of jambalaya that Duke brought in a large pot, boiled crawfish and bread pudding, Thomas drains another tumbler of whisky and starts his yarn,

” In the Bayou there is a tradition, we holler. Swamp hollering is a big part of Cajun culture. It’s half-way between a call and a song. For an outsider it can sound like music we make just for fun. But it has a purpose : it’s to communicate from shore to boat, from boat to boat to make sure where everyone is at and if they’re OK.”

” What does it sound like ? ” I ask.

Thomas leans back his head, opens his jaw wide, rounds his lips and there comes out an incredible throaty sound, a wonderful music, a loud yodeling.

” It reminds me of the Swiss yodeling I heard when I went to Europe’s Alps. You know the ones with the enormous curved horns,” I say.

” No, I don’t know sister. Our hollering comes from the Bayou,” Thomas replies, peeved.

” Anyway to continue with my story. Once we were in the swamp, fishing for chevrettes and hunting cocodrile. There was Gator Jim there, Tom Lee and in another canoe, Slim Sam. We came back with a pound of crawfish and some soft-shell crab but no gator. When we were back at base camp, Slim Sam joked about our long holler conversation. ‘What conversation ?’ I asked. And he described at length the exchange. Ou rendu ? Caught anything yet ? Et toi ? that kind’a thing. You see we have different sounds and pitches, not words exactly that would drown in the damp air, to make ourselves understood. Anyways, Jim said, ‘It wasn’t us, we didn’t holler all day.’ So Sam insisted, ‘But you called out Sam and something about my straw hat and red kerchief that you could see through the swamp grass.’ ‘Nope,’ said Tom,’not us’. The next morning  we met another group coming out of the bayou and Sam asked them if they were the ones who had yodelled at him. ‘No , we didn’t do any hollering and we didn’t hear anything either; we saw your chums here across a pond at one point but otherwise the swamp was deserted yesterday.’ Slim Sam was looking spooked by then and I remembered the legend of Red Hat Sally. The tale goes that Sally was walking through the bayou one day and she got stuck in quick sand. No one ever found a body but ever since she is heard swamp hollering every time someone wearing red happens to be in the swamp around March, the time of year she disappeared.”

” Cut it out, Thomas,” says Duke, ” Now you’re scaring the shit out of Mathilda.”

” It’s a fact though, true story.”

” That’s what you say every time you spin your yarn, tall-tale, dude.”

I look from one to the other not knowing who to believe or what to think. I am suddenly wide awake.

” Let’s practice some yodeling then,” I say, ” I’m not sleepy anymore.”

And we improvise a fair-do around the campfire. Thomas gets out his violin and we dance, holler late into the night.

©susanbauryrouchard

Doug Kershaw, Louisiana man, here

                          Bully of the Bayou, here

Bayou Country, Lonely Planet DEEP SOUTH, 1998.

Postcards from Louisiana bought April 2008

Thank you for visiting my blog Life in Poetry during this A to Z. See you on the Reflections Post. Congratulations to all you Survivors 2020.

3 thoughts on “⌗AtoZ Challenge, 29th April 2020, Y is for Yarn on Yodeling in the Bayou.

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