By Cole Williams
Designer of The Journal
During the past holidays my wife, Doris, and I took a little road trip down to St. James Parish to see the pre-burned bonfires on the levee. We drove through rural parts of river road with their attendant derelict farm houses and goat castles. It reminded me of growing up in the woods and swamps of Ascension Parish.
We lived next door to my grandfather who was a veterinarian. My father died when I was a nipper so I spent a lot of my earliest childhood following “Doc” around, watching him spay or castrate pets, often outside under a large oak tree in their front yard. He was also a large animal practitioner and saw to the general health of most of the cows and horses in the parish.
Right up until puberty most of my days were spent around farms and farming: mending fences, rounding up cattle, bailing hay and feeding the animals early in the morning. I remember feeding frozen hay to the cows on some cold winter mornings.
It wasn’t all work. We went skinny dipping, hunting, fishing and horseback riding pretty much any time the weather allowed.
It sounds pretty idylic and I suppose it was. I really loved growing up in the country. It all changed, though, when I reached puberty. Two-legged “dear” became more interesting than the four-legged “deer” you find in the woods.
Now that I’m older, I’m spoiled as well. I agree with Doris who defines “roughing it” as “No room service after midnight.” I’m like Lisa Douglas on the TV series “Green Acres.” Farm living ain’t the life for me. Give me a big city any day.
Obviously, lots of folks don’t agree with me. The Outdoor Industry Association reports that Americans spent a record 349.6 million U.S. dollars on camping tents/shelters in 2016.
I saw a quote somewhere recently that went something like “If the outdoors are so great, why are bugs always trying to get in our houses?” Good question, I thought.
Really, I’d like living in the country if there was a convenience store and a pharmacy less than a mile away. Of course, that would make it not the country.
This is exactly what is happening in my home parish. Folks are moving in as fast as they can rezone land and build more subdivisions. Everyone wants to move to Ascension Parish to enjoy “country living” while simultaneously making it urban. Traffic is now almost as bad in Gonzales as it is in Baton Rouge. Sometimes it seems even worse.
Oh, well. You can’t stop progress, but you don’t have to like it.
I really enjoyed our recent trip down the River Road. And that’s exactly how I enjoy the countryside: sitting in a nice temperature controlled automobile watching it go by through the window.