February 7, 2010

The French Connection

The only thing that could make Super Bowl Sunday any better for our family would be if the Bears were playing. While we're huge Saints fans, 3/4 of this family are loyal Bears fans first and Saints fans second. The writer of this blog is in the minority. Regardless, seeing the Saints earn their way to the big game is more than just a sporting event for us. As most of you know, we started our lives together in New Orleans in 1989. Paul signed up for Saints tickets before we even had a place to live. We had season tickets for seven years, making the drive from Baton Rouge to New Orleans on Sundays to watch the Saints. They weren't a great team then, but we didn't care because there's no place like New Orleans in your 20s and early 30s.

Danielle was born in Louisiana and is proud of it. We made life-long friends in Louisiana and we keep in touch to this day. We had many "firsts" in Louisiana. Our first ride in a boat through the bayous and rivers with our friend Judy, our first Abita Beers with our friends Margaret and Jason and our first crawfish with our dear friends Bob and Debra. There were several Mardi Gras celebrations, Jazz Festivals, Hurricanes (the drink and the real thing), LSU games, crawfish boils, King Cakes and more. And many, many Bourbon Street experiences we'll blog about when Danielle is much older.

We learned some French while we were there as there's so much history in Louisana. Many of the street signs we see in Montreal are not unlike what we saw in New Orleans. So... the French Connection...it's ironic that now we find ourselves in Canada...the beginning of much of that history in Louisana. The Acadians of Louisiana -- later to become Cajuns -- are the descendants of French colonists who settled in the Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec in the 17th-century. During the Great Expulsion if 1755-1763, mostly during the Seven Years' War, British colonial officers and New England legislators and militia deported more than 14,000 Acadians from the maritime region in what could be called ethnic cleansing. About one third perished and many later settled in Louisana -- now known as Cajuns. Others were transported to France and some back to the Maritime provinces. (thank you Wikipedia, what would we do without it?) When Paul first started his job in Louisiana, he traveled to many of these Cajun areas. We're talking deep into these Cajun towns. He would come home and talk about how strange it was to talk with them, he could pick up English words here and there, but it was like hearing another language. Imagine when the "Yankee" from the north opened his mouth in the deep south.

So watching the Saints and what the team has done for New Orleans is nostalgic. A couple of years ago we went back to New Orleans for a Saints game. In another bit of irony, Louis' favorite football team is USC, one of his favorite players is Reggie Bush, and of course Bush now plays for the Saints. It was eerie to be in the Superdome just a year after Katrina. The city still was not up and running and it was actually sad to see much of it, or what was left of it at the time. They've come a long way!

Now we find ourselves in French-speaking Montreal and more irony. Danielle's name is common in French -- especially when added with her middle name Marguerite which is very French. Louis, while named after his grandfather Pisani is meant to be Italian, it too is obviously common in French, although he's often called Louie. And, there's another Louisiana connection. The French people here at sporting events love to say Louieeeeee Pisaneeeeeee. There's several other "six degrees of separation" things we could write about later.

But today, Super Bowl Sunday, it's all about the Saints. We've got a Cajun pork roast ready and Jambalaya. No Abita Beer from Louisiana though, so we have to settle on Molson.


Margaret said...

Love this! Today is a great day for anyone who loves New Orleans. Jason says he's happy to share some of those Bourbon Street stories with Danielle. One of my favorite New Orleans memories? When you and Paul showed up at our house after our wedding with a car full of patio furniture. You said a New Orleans screen porch needed wicker chairs! Geaux Saints!!!

Margaret said...

And by the way, thanks for posting that music clip. I cried watching that live, and I'm teared up watching it now.

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