The roots that hold our family tree, and our family business, have grown in Louisiana soil for five generations. They’re deep, and they’re strong, but we live knowing that someday they might wash away in a storm.
In Louisiana, folks understand impermanence. It’s a place that fosters an uncommon awareness of life’s mutability. Louisianians live among haunted and decaying buildings in cities and towns precariously perched beside rising water and disappearing marshes. And, occasionally, we have to rebuild our lives after a hurricane.
When our weather makes national news, people often ask us why we keep living here.
The answer is that this is a place that embodies the idea of living life to its fullest more than any other place in the world. Our state motto is “Laissez les bon temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll.” Nobody on earth carpés the hell out of diem like we do.
Grandmother’s Buttons is based in a tiny southern Louisiana town called St. Francisville located two hours north of New Orleans. Luckily for us, it sits about a hundred feet above sea level so is a little less prone to flooding. That doesn’t mean that the odd tornado or hurricane doesn’t kick our butt now and then.
St. Francisville is a place where folks love crawfish boils, rodeos, king cakes, BBQ, parades, hunting, fishing, and country fairs. We’re part of the tapestry of diverse cultures in south Louisiana culture.
Tombs and oak trees at a graveyard located at the historic Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
We think this quote by Chris Rose from One Dead in the Attic, Post Katrina Stories sums us up perfectly.
“Dear America, I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana. You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you'd probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard. We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of others who don’t.”
Only in Louisiana is the word parade used as an active verb, as in “Let’s go parading this weekend!” Costumes, crowns, beads, and ball gowns are all wardrobe requirements in these parts. There’s a festival every weekend somewhere in this state. Alligators, andouille sausage, daylilies, peaches, sugar cane, frogs, boudin, fried chicken, jazz, red dresses, witches, cocktails, voodoo, po’boys, crawfish, the blues, rice, cochon de lait, jambalaya, strawberries, and burlesque ALL have festivals dedicated to their celebration. Mardi Gras lasts a month, and Fat Tuesday is an official state holiday.
Impermanence is what fuels this extraordinary joie de vivre. In Louisiana, we cherish our decaying old buildings dearly because we know the next storm might erase them forever. Hurricane Ida destroyed the Karnofsky Shop and Residence in New Orleans. Louis Armstrong started working in this building, for the Karnofsky family, in 1907 when he was seven years old. He credits them with fostering his love of music.
The scattered remains of the Karnofsky Shop & Residence in New Orleans after Hurricane Ida.
Losing landmarks like this is sad, but with loss comes a beautiful understanding that everything is impermanent, so you might as well live it up while you’re here.
Then there’s your mother’s gumbo, fried catfish, eccentric uncles, slowly told stories, enormous moss-draped live oaks, and days spent fishing on the marshes and bayous to take into consideration.
And, we come back after every storm because no one else can be us. No other place can dance, sing, play music, cook, pray, fish, hunt, or tell stories like we do. It’s our job to be Louisiana for the world, and we’re going to keep on doing it.