Ancestral Home in Lake Arthur, Louisiana
The new fence arrived January 2010 commencing a new decade with the family name original aluminum plate in tact sitting atop the gate; this fence replaces the whittle cyclone fence of some 60 years past whose gate is prominently featured and welcomes all visitors to the back door! The fence arrived just in time to enhance the new plantings which pops ‘the old home place’ nicely! The old magnolia tree suffered greatly from Hurricane Rita 2005 losing a large part of her trunk; it has been interesting to watch her slowly cover over the scar. I’m attempting to help with a potted vine! Every few years I climb out on the roof with the loppers and lop away at branches
while town folk stop by for a visit and words of caution!!
My nephew, John David Monlezun, donated pieces of my paternal grandfather’s red barn as it was dismantled circa 2006. These are vintage pieces from the sweetest of barns which my grandfather, Antoine, built with the help of his brothers who were also carpenters! Other special pieces of interest have made their way to this spot labeled for display for the 4th grade children and adults on Placed Based Education Day where I speak to heritage and faith!! They also catch some of the holy water as the children are blessed while standing in front of these precious pieces of old!! Grandpa would have loved that!!! Further back in time Grandpa Antoine Monlezun who, at the birth of his ten grandchildren, and for this home, would ‘throw’ a concrete block inscribing the names of his ten grandchildren and here they are!
Recently joining this stable collection is the top of the picnic table as it has been replaced with treated pine, stained and should last another 40 years!
I happened to be on Arthur Avenue when the concrete driveway was being poured and Mom was beside herself with glee. Ruts and standing water turning into mud for years on end was no fun! Just as the concrete was curing at her urging she handed me a stick and I carved the three initials of each family member (and spouses) in two generations in order of birth. Suzanne Louise is the only grandchild (18th of 18) who was still being formed in heaven!!!
The old fence gate enfolds the Blessed Mother statue welcoming all you approach the back door of this wonderful home. She is an eternal presence in our lives and we love tah-tahing her with a little garland of roses and planting a muscadine vine!
Louisa Thomasine Peterson-Monlezun, my Swedish paternal great-grandmother died in childbirth with their sixth child in her Cypress Point home. In 2005, the landowner along with my sister Constance Victoria and nephew Christian Joseph and I, tracked a mile through the Cypress Point woods to the spot that has came down through the generations, recently through her granddaughter Inez Monlezun-Marx, to be the location of her grave and that of the unborn child. We are 99.9% sure of the authenticity of the site. My great-grandfather, Dominique Joseph, told of planting gardenias by her ‘elevated’ grave for he “wanted her buried on high ground back from the river!” The year was 1884! Today the gardenias grow in profusion in the shadow of giant oak and pine trees. This is a cutting of one of those gardenias from that sacred spot which is planted on this sacred ground on Arthur Avenue. The cutting was a pitiful sight post-planting in its little pot but my husband watered and tah-tahed it until it produced its first sign of growth!! It proudly reigns across from the crepe myrtle dedicated to my father, grandson of Louisa Thomasine and planted for the first Anniversary-Tidy-up-Arthur Avenue Day 2001! They are pretty much all together again sharing earth and allowing us to feast our focus on our ancestors who loved creation in all of its splendid glory!
This is a watering trough utilized by Grandpa Monlezun’s cows (milking stool inside)! Onion tops planted by Mom and transplants from Grandma Monlezun’s yard never stop producing! Mom would offer anyone a bunch while we were getting in our car to depart! I snip and use in my gumbo for they are the real pungent good kind! Now it holds whatever is planted whether flowers or good-to-eat!
Cousin Renee A. Reina is part Sicilian which is wonderful for her work with laying stone in a requested mosaic pattern is perfect like her ancestors from the old country! She selects each piece, hauls it over in her truck, unloads all with mulch or gravel, spans it out, stands and thinks! Gathers up a piece, places it, adjust the pieces, mulches and voila ~ that innate talent of eye and hard work!! She loves it or she wouldn’t let me use her truck!!!! She has designed five locations of slate and I simply love it. And, to boot, a mimosa is coming up on its own growing right under the kitchen ac receiving the water drip and will give needed shade for retreatants to sit, Journal and ponder how The Father takes each piece of a life and turns it all to good for He has the greater perspective
There are cuttings from Grandma Victoria Monlezun’s yard on Iowa Street in this the area called ‘the plant nursery’ where the drip from the ac waters all nicely and thoroughly. No waste, no want!! They have joined the other heritage plants and flowers forming a symphony of the past planted firmly in the present for those who come after us! Cousin Renee lovingly tends all those seeds and cuttings; in all weather she works and plants as her parents before her residing on our “Ridge” on ‘The Chenier’ where our pioneer families first began with hands in the soil! We are so grateful for all she does in honor and respect of those who have gone before, those who are with us and those who will come after us!
This canopy on the swing porch covered the original fuel pumps positioned next to Daddy’s first office! My sister, Constance Victoria donated the unique outdoor Holy Family statue carved in concrete which they purchased in New Iberia, LA! The wooden furniture is given a lovin-lovin coat of paint every three years or so along with the annual pressure washing of the house, garage, concrete walkways, pipes and posts one swish at a time! All should last another 100 years with this type of care and attention to detail! Silent Retreatants enjoy sitting outside, reading and hearing the ‘Angelus’ bells toll…’they toll for thee!’ Here that is heaven! The vignette to the immediate south has a gardenia cuttings from great-grandmother Louisa Thomasines’ gravesite on the mound in Cypress Point, LA!!!
The year after our Mom died my eldest brother Lee Joseph Jr. had 12 fruit trees planted, one for each sibling, Mom and Dad! They are all in a row and growing great and tall producing abundant fruit in due season. The very old fig tree has the best figs in all Christendom. She has survived and is again throwing those leaves for Mother Nature who notices and so do I! It is under these branches that the clothes line has found a perfect spot! As ironware & wonderful religious symbols are gifted to me, I give to this fence for all to enjoy!!!
Grandma Monlezuns’ vignette of cuttings surrounded by a table and chairs is a place of reflection and prayer. A rosary is always close by. The trees grow to shade all in rest here and bless all who pass on the boulevard. I called the taller and taller Rain Tree “Out of Africa Tree!” Moms ‘St. Joseph’s’ lilies bloom all along this side of the home. They bloom on cue around Easter for they love the sun and this alluvial soil! She had contracted for landscaping around parts of the home many years ago and we have followed the path laid down (!) adding here and there and everywhere growing all that will grow in benediction of all those who have gone before.
A handrail for the back door was lovingly installed and we call it the “Anne Rail!” This was in honor of cousin Anne Fautt who frequently stopped in for a visit then off we would go on some adventure! January 2013 at age 90 she moved to Houston, TX to be with her beloved daughter and family! We miss her greatly! Thank God she emails!
There is a sign on the back door on ‘Event Days’ that reads, “For Goodness Sake, Enter!”
Terry Bussy as seen through the kitchen window strumming his wonderful guitar for the annual Sing-along!!
Inventory of ‘Plantings’ commencing 2001 to present date!
In the beginning…Lisa Ashy-Monlezun, the wife of my eldest nephew, arrived in a vehicle overflowing with plants, mulch, dirt, supplies, and hit the dirt turning spade after spade laying the framework for a profusion of color and growth. I am eternally gratefully to her.
Post- Easter 2006 ~ My cousin, Renee Aline Reina, joined me for Fridays in silent retreat as her family home and brothers’ ancestral homes in Grand Chenier were obliterated by Hurricane Rita 2005. My father’s people are from The Ridge area of Cameron Parish and believe me when I say they know how to grow, tend and bring to harvest all flora and fauna…they are of the soil, and the most generous and faith-filled of people! Renee loves this dirt for “it grows anything and all so well!” This is a beautiful gift they have received and share; today all those who visit Arthur Avenue reap the reward of this native gift for Renee works the land here with thought and makes magic! My brothers two and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Spring 2013 ~ I requested of Renee that she take an ‘Outside Inventory” of plantings and origin if possible while we still have a memory!!
June 2010 to present date… Cuttings are always arriving…
Citrus Trees/18…Lee Joseph, Jr. originals with a few replacements; planted south to north: LA Red Orange, LA Sweet Orange, LA Red, Satsuma, Washington Naval Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Lemon, LA Sweet, Grapefruit, Lemon, Kumquart and Satsuma…Total: 13 fruit trees in a bee line!
A Pear in the middle of two crepe myrtles is planted on the south side of The Back Room all in a row!
The two fig trees are west of the garage…one is original with the best figs!
Vignettes/3: 1) In place of the sago monster palm!, 2) Victoria Broussard-Monlezun, 3) by the swing porch
Lilies/3 (From The Ridge!)
Bedding Plants: Begonias, Petunias, Impatients, Gladiolus
Irises (From The Ridge!)
Red Ruffle Azaleas/10
Gardenias/2 in vignettes (Great-grandmother Louisa’s Gravesite in Cypress Point, LA!!)
Vegetable Plants: Green Onions, Tomatoes & Watermelon!!
Crepe Myrtle (the first one planted for my father 2001!)
Weeping Crepe Myrtle/7 (white)
Knock Out Roses/10 (Anne Fautt’s mother called them ‘trash roses!!’)
Confederate Jasmine, Ligustrum (4), Spider Lilies (2) (from Spring Street)
Camellia/St. Joseph Lilies (From of old!)
Cleveland Flowering Pear Trees/3
Legustrum (Great-Grandmother Louisa’s Gravesite in Cypress Point)
Gardenia/2, Iris, small fig, St. Joseph Lilies & Maidenhair Fern (Grandma Monlezun’s home!)
Maple Tree (Red)
Russian Olive Hedge/6
Pork ‘n Bean Plant! Just kidding! It’s just that we ate the contents of so many cans of this delicacy when young and now!!
Lee J. gratefully sends us to Greengate Garden Center for our annual early Spring supplies: 38-ish bags of mulch, malathon, fertilizer for grass and shrubs, black fungus spray, round-up and ant killer to boost and maintain outdoor growth for all to enjoy for years to come! Ricky Berken mows as if this were Hodges Garden especially since the bees found a new home! We love the labor (Renee works circles around me!) as we load all in her truck, utilize Antoine’s wagon-of-old, wave as the car horns blow and work till our hearts content…the church bells toll and we pause for prayers-of-all! Wonderful!
So many who come and enjoy the home comment so tenderly on the smallest of things that mean so much and through this ‘Web of Gratefulness’ I pass it on to you! Many wonderful people have enthusiastically given so much for all the right reasons in growing this home! It’s the little things that put a smile on my face!
It is pure joy to share our home of origin with all who make their way to her back door! We are a team of stewards who humbly acknowledge and embrace it all!
Our garden is Your garden, Father! To You be praised as our garden grows in that alluvial soil of Your good earth and many find reflective and prayerful time spent with and unto You! Lead, Kindly Light!