|Photo by Rhonda Sanders, used with permission|
Susie is five, and her eyes are all shinin' and lookin' outside, where the birds sit on branches and sing, where the bread in my oven sends good smells all through Granny's house; and the people come by and all wave. And Granny she knows how it all began, a long time ago when people they learned just where to find home and to make it the best it could be.
Louisiana has been here a very long time, and this parish is one of the oldest in the whole State. Folks came from France and Spain and married each other, makin' their homes all around. Some had babies with folks that were here when the people from those countries arrived. These were called Indians, that some call Native Americans because they were here from the first. Then there were people who came from Africa, many in big, heavy chains lived as slaves, and some became free. They had babies themselves and with people of different colors who had come brand new to the lands and others who had been there awhile.
It was just like bakin' those sweet little cakes, I told Susie, they got sweeter and sweeter the more people had babies and changed. Some were the color of heaven's gold sun. Some were the color of earth. Others were like blossoms on Cloutierville trees, all different colors and shapes.
And everyone learned that to get along good was to know just how pretty they is, inside and outside, and all around here. That's why the people they smile. They made their own food from the land and shared it with friends and with people who came. There were never no strangers in a place where love grows like all of the beauty right here.
That is like heaven; it's all we can see. We all need a place just like that, since The Man Upstairs wants us to know there are places like Cloutierville we can all make if we just trust each other and Him.
Susie is sleepin', her blanket around her, has drifted on this old lady's knees, feelin' soft and warm with her smells. Granny knows this is the best of her heaven: when one of her babies is here and the others are here in her heart.