Patates Saturday, Aug 31 2013 

For today’s potato blog, we can thank [or curse (: ] the inspiration from my writer pal Aine Greaney. Apparently, not all the ladies are in my head.

Aine wrote a thoughtful post on her blog (http://writerwithadayjob.com/) about the hard-working people we should remember on Labor Day, including her da, who dug a lot of potatoes, and Seamus Heaney, a Noble Laureate poet who wrote about pens and potatoes. (Just look at her blog.)

Which got me thinking about Acadians and potatoes.

In 2010, brother Glenn and I visited Le Pays de la Sagouine (http://www.sagouine.com/) in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. I’d been looking online for something ancestral when up popped Viola Leger’s name and an advert that “for the first time” she would perform La Sagouine by Antonine Maillet in English. Whatever that force is that compels us to do things without our conscious awareness, it took over and I said “I’m going.”

Ms. Leger (http://www.nfb.ca/film/viola_leger_together) was born in Fitchburg MA, about 25 miles from where I live. Perhaps that had something to do with the front and center dinner-theatre table seating we had. Perhaps that was just Acadian hospitality. We were grateful and enthralled. So…

We spent the following day on the Isle of Fleas (where Le Pays is housed), and, though not fluent enough in French to understand all that was said, we had enough language memory to follow the antics of the musicians and actors.

Which brings me back to potatoes. Glenn and I talked about this, so we both think it’s true. There’s a Cajun/Acadian song called “Lâche pas la patate,” which translate literally as “don’t drop the potato.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg61Z4XHrwk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HhOOuYJpu8

One of the performers at Le Pays sang a slant version. We’re fairly sure he said “lâche ma patate” and that the verses were colorful. From what I remember, the song took him around the world dropping potatoes, or whatever they were a stand in for.  Maybe someday we’ll go back and find out.

In the meantime, Lâche pas la patate – don’t give up — seems a pretty good maxim as many of us face the vagaries of the changing workplace.

Aine’s da didn’t, and neither did our Acadian forebears.

Vive la patate! Ne la lache pas.

Advertisements

World Acadian Congress Aug. 8 to 24, 2014 Sunday, Jul 8 2012 

Just a quick post to let you know that plans are well underway for the next World Acadian Congress. Imagine 600,000 cousins, many of whom look familiar — though you’ve never met them and though your ancestral tree branched hundreds of years ago —  gathering on Aug. 15 (National Acadian Day) at 17:55 (5:55 pm) to make a great noise (tintamarre) as a show of solidarity for our culture.

Heck, grab a pot and a spoon this August 15 and celebrate on your own. Just in case you don’t know, 1755 is the year of the Grand Derangement that sent Acadians on the great diaspora that resulted in some of us starting a Cajun culture in Louisiana. Others of us ended up in New England, and when hostilities settled down, walked 700 miles back to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia only to find our homes appropriated by British loyalists.

Ah well, you do with what you’ve got.

My youngest brother Glenn and I learned about the Congress when we went to Bouctouche and Beaubassin in 2010. While we were at an archeological dig run by Parks Canada in Beaubassin (where some of our ancestors may have lived), one of the locals told Glenn he looked like a Gallant. The Gallant ancestor is our many times great-grandparent. Then we went to Le Pays de La Sagouine, where so many people at the 1755 Concert looked familiar that we played the “who’s that look like?” game. We saw people who looked like our brothers, sister, uncles, aunts, cousins, and neighbors. And they treated us like family members. Made the decision then and there that we would go back for the Grand Rendezvous.

From the sound of things, this next Congress aims to make the whole world Acadian for a time. Can’t wait.

Here’s the announcement — en francais!