Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Living On The Bayou in Southern Louisiana

Blogger's Note: For many years, Cajun families would stay along the bayou in wood cottages, raised a few inches above the water level.  Often overlooked, these hidden gems stand testament to time-honored craftsmanship and the ability of early Louisianians to carve out a niche in this, at the time, impenetrably hot and hostile environment.


Cajun 'bayou' cottages like the one (Above) showcase an authentic charm, and a rich history in Louisiana solid wood architecture.  

With 'hide-away' second homes becoming all the rage, home buyers are looking with fresh eyes at water-adjacent properties that boast original solid wood homes from half a century ago or older.  But these are no shacks, far from it.  The creative designers are adding character through custom interiors highlighting color and flair.  And they are bringing with them the creature comforts of home.

Just think about it.  What has more authentic value than these or a better view for days of relaxation.

A conventional take on these types of homes is the durability and natural character of the woods use to build them.  In Cajun culture, a man would be handy in all of the traditional ways of furniture and wood building.  Their homes and the household items were built in what what available in close proximity to the build site.

The first being Louisiana Bald Cypress, the original forests of which Albany Woodworks sources to create beautiful and long-lasting Antique Cypress building materials, idea for remodeling homes from this era.  The second source of lumber for early Louisianians was Heart Pine from the Louisiana Longleaf Pine.

Also being a durable wood beyond compare, this wood was used primarily for flooring and support beams due to its strength and load-integrity.  Albany Woodworks also sources this ancient timber for it's high value in matching the existing wood materials in your home.

From the USA Today article Facts About Louisiana Bayous:

"Located primarily in the southern reaches of Louisiana, the bayou is a defining feature of this unique part of America. The bayou is home to many people living in the Pelican State as well as to an abundance of wildlife. Unlike the rest of Louisiana, bayou life has its own pace and culture. The swamps and the gators might not be for everyone, but the people of the bayou feel right at home. This often-misunderstood area remains a mystery to many Americans.

The Bayou Name
The name 'bayou' is even native to Louisiana. According to the Famous Wonders website, the term "bayou" is believed to have originated from "bayuk," a word meaning "small stream" in a local Native American tongue. The word was first used in Louisiana and has come to mean the braided streams that are fed by the Mississippi River in the low-lying areas of Southern Louisiana. These marshes or wetland areas move very slowly and make ideal homes for creatures like alligators, crawfish and catfish -- all of which are popular bayou foods.

Bayou Culture
The bayou culture is actually more diverse than many may think. There is no doubt that the most closely associated culture to the bayou is the Cajun culture. The Cajuns were French-speaking settlers relocated from Nova Scotia. They were actually known as 'Acadians,' but the local dialect eventually led to the word becoming "Cajun." In South Louisiana's bayous the culture is as diverse as the ingredients found in the local gumbo. In addition to the French Canadians that were the foundation of much of the bayou culture, there are also significant influences from Spanish, German, African and Irish settlers as well as Native Americans."