Above the hilarious gumbo ya-ya (everybody talking at once) the musicians could be heard beating out catchy, foot-tapping tunes on a guitar, mouth organ and wheezy old accordion.
Then came time to eat. Three long tables, at least 30 feet from end to end, were set up to form a horseshoe and covered with bright oilcloth to protect them from grease spots. Full bowls of gumbo and steaming rice were brought to the hungry Cajuns, along with other delicacies, such as fried catfish, frog legs, jambalaya, oysters, crabs, chicken, hush puppies and French bread.
Three deep bowls of boiled crawfish were served, one to each table. Guests gathered around these bowls, dipping fingers in and pulling out steaming crawfish. Papite and I joined the other crawfish grabbers eagerly.
To eat boiled crawfish properly one must break the little crustaceans in half, deftly shuck off the edible tail, remove the black vein thread that runs down the back, dip the meat in a handy bowl of sauce and pop the highly seasoned morsel into the mouth.
Later a big, bright moon rose above the cypress and oak. Old songs were sung, with various groups suggesting their favorites, punctuated by frequent trips to kegs of strong New Orleans beer and sweetish orange wine from the Mississippi River Delta.
Not until a red sunrise silhouetted the trees along the eastern skyline did the fais-do-do break up. Married folk gathered up offspring and joined amorous couples and unattached groups to walk—or stagger, according to the degree of inebriation—toward boats, autos and several one-horse buggies, to head for home.
Next evening I left the bayou, my ice chest packed with neatly cleaned bass and jars of gumbo and bisque. But all the way back to Texas my thoughts kept returning to the days I had spent in south Louisiana. Never, for me, had time passed so swiftly and so pleasantly.
The Cajun country is an angler's dream. Black and white bass, crappie and monster catfish are there for the taking. Fishing is good at any season, but spring is the best time to visit Cajunland. Then the bayous and lakes are blanketed with water hyacinths, waxy-white lilies and other water flowers. The birds are mating and sporting their most colorful plumage. The fish are striking like crazy, and the air is soft and spicy-smelling with the heavy scent of exotic blooms and Cajun cooking, for that is the time of year when Cajun women move their cook pots out of doors and M'sieu Crawfish comes into his own.
But, best of all, it is the time of year when a visiting angler is most likely—if he is wily—to be able to wangle an invitation from some Cajun family to attend a real, honest-to-goodness fais-do-do. Should such a stroke of good luck be his, the experience, believe me, will be one that he'll not easily forget.