We traveled this morning to a little town near False River for a horse show. The last show here was obscenely cold for Louisiana just three weeks ago. Today it was unbearably hot. Typical Louisiana weather.
Here is Morgan saddling her horse. It tickles me how she puts her foot on Punkin's side in order to be able to tighten the girth.
Punkin is a perfect horse for Morgan - she is so docile and easy-going. She'll bend her head down for Morgan to put on her bridle or halter. Morgan can ride her bareback, lying flat on her back, not holding onto the reins, and Punkin looks for all the world like she is walking on eggshells.
But put her in the arena, and she sure does fly for an old horse!
And hurray for Morgan! Second place in Junior Pole Bending! Those Connelly girls sure cleaned up with the money! And Mama got paid back for entry fees!
The place where we were is in Pointe Coupee Parish, a little place just steeped in history. Here's the story and it tells why it is called "False River."
French Canadian, Sieur d'Iberville, and his brother, Sieur d'Bienville, set sail from La Rochelle, France September 1698 to explore the lower Mississippi River and establish a colony for King Louis XIV. The expedition discovered a point where the meandering river doubled back on itself, forming a huge oxbow lake. The party went ashore and Iberville's Indian guides led him along a six foot wide stream through the dense forest. Stepping out of the woods, the explorer was amazed to find himself once again standing on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was like a secret passage - a short cut that saved them a distance of ten leagues (30 miles) which is quite a savings when paddling upstream. The small stream Iberville had followed was nature's way of finding a shorter distance between two points.
Eventually, the small stream widened to become the main riverbed and both ends of the giant oxbow slowly filled in, forming a 22 mile long lake, one of our four "Rivers". This lake was called Fausse Riviere or False River and the cut point across which the Mississippi River now flowed became known as Pointe Coupee. Whether the name Pointe Coupee (French for "cut point") stemmed from the act of Iberville's portage or that the Mississippi's gradual adoption of the portage as its main channel has long been debated.
Because it is in the heart of Creole French plantation country with rich soil, there were many tobacco and indigo plantations in the 1700's and 1800's. Now they grow soybeans and sugar cane and some of the plantation homes (albeit small ones - not enormous, wealthy plantations) still stand, along with other architecture that reminds one of the pre-Civil War south....
This is a small slave cabin that is along one of the main roads. It doesn't appear to be inhabited now, but someone lived there in the not to distant past - there is an electric meter pan on the side of the house. There would likely have been two families living in this one small cabin (see the two doors). Typically, the interior walls would have been papered with newspapers and pages from mail-order catalogs that were passed on from the Big House (which no longer exists ironically - there are two small slave cabins, but the plantation is no more - or either the cabins were moved here from their original sites).
While my heart breaks to think of the plight of the original occupants of this small cabin, it also reminds me of the many poorer people in large cities like London or New York, who would have thought this a fine place to live. Truly they were slaves as well - enslaved by their station in life or their nationality or simply by circumstance. We have been reading in our history about slavery in the south, but also about the indigent population in the larger cities and the numerous homeless and abandoned children. No wonder the West held such appeal - the chance to escape the chains of slavery that for some were visible and some invisible.