Staring down into the swirling caramel colored roux, constantly stirring, got me ta tinking. Jus a few short months ago, I been named da Gumbo Queen at da French Food Festival. Dat’s Queen of all da Cajun cooks up da bayou and down da bayou. Take pride in my art of gumbo making, I do. Why jus look at da bountiful garden outside da kitchen door filled wit tomatoes, peppers, celery, shallots, garlic, and all kinda herbs. And da fine cast iron gumbo pot dat’s jus right ta make da perfect roux. Had ta save up money for a long time ta drive up ta New Orleans to fetch it. I should be happier, Lord. Why, you done blessed me wit my dear husband Pierre who works hard on da shrimp boats and brings his harvest for my gumbo pot every week.
Heard a little whisper in my heart, “Your ways are right in your own eyes, Clotilde, but I weigh your heart.”
I stirred a little faster wit my wooden spoon den added da onions ta brown. Ya can’t jus trow anyting in da pot and hope for da best. Takes jus da right ingredients, da right pot, and a lot of patience.
“OK, bon dieu, let me tink about dat.”
“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” da Lord added. I knew what He was talking ‘bout, too. Been too many nights…knew I betta listen up and look at my heart cause He sure was…
When da onions were all browned , found myself in da rocking chair on da front galerie just a looking at Claudette’s house cross da bayou. She been my bes friend since I was jus a little girl.But we haven’t shared even one cup of café au lait in almost tree months. Since da night of da French Food Festival gumbo cookoff. Dat’s when my anger got da bes of me and da wrong words came flying out my mout. She fired some good ones back at me, too.
“Mais oui, sha bon dieu, my heart’s not right. I know betta. A friend has ta love at all times like da priest said last Sunday at da Mass. Forgive me, Lord, and I will make peace wit mon ami. It don’t matter if I’m queen of anyting if I don’t got my bes friend ta share life wit.”
“You are forgiven, my dear Clotilde, now go and make your peace. When your ways are pleasing to me, I will make even your enemies to be at peace with you.”
I knew den exactly what to do. Please da Lord and He would do da rest.
So back in my kitchen, I added da final ingredients to da gumbo…some of da bes shrimp from Pierre’s last fishing trip and a little file’ for good measure. I sure learned some good lessons when I listened to my heart cause da Lord wants ta talk to us all bout how ta live a betta life and be blessed. Jus like gumbo needs da right ingredients, da right pot and patience, da right words and deeds, da right attitude, and a lot of patience makes da perfect friendship.
So I called my best friend. “Claudette, we gots a lot to talk about and dere’s a big ole pot of gumbo on da stove…”
“I’ll be dere with Gaston at six o’clock sharp, mon ami!”
I hung up da phone wit a smile across my face. Claudette called me mon ami…friend.
“Tank you, Lord.”
As dusk began to descend upon the da drifting bayou waters, Pierre and I sat ouside on the galerie. Soon we saw dat pirogue we seen so many times before gliding toward our little cajun cottage. Da cypress trees swayed in da evening breeze making a frame around da water and da little boat carrying our friends. Dat was a beautiful picture.
Scripture Paraphrases: Proverbs 21:2, Ephesians 4:26, Proverbs 17:17, and Proverbs 16:7 (NAS)
Author Notes: roux=brown sauce base for all Cajun gumbos and stews, bon dieu= good Lord,galerie=porch Mais oiu, sha bon dieu= but yes, dear good Lord, mon ami= my friend, file=special gumbo spice,all points of reference in Cajun country are noted as up the bayou, down the bayou, or across the bayou
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