I am originally from a small town in Louisiana located in the southern portion of Lafourche Parish called Golden Meadow. It’s a small bedroom community with about 2,100 residents. By car, it’s an hour and twenty minute drive from New Orleans, but as the crow flies, we’re just over 40 miles from New Orleans. Why does it take almost 90 minutes to go these 40 miles? Between New Orleans and Golden Meadow there are vast undeveloped tracts of swamp, lakes, marsh and the Mississippi River. One must drive out of the way significantly to make the trek. The general area that I’m from, the portion of Lafourche parish that falls south of the Intracoastal Canal, is more widely referred to as “The Bayou.” Since my hometown and this whole area are situated right on Bayou Lafourche, the moniker makes sense.

Bayou Lafourche in Golden Meadow
Pelicans along Bayou Lafourche, the lifeblood of Golden Meadow, my hometown.

While I haven’t actually lived in Golden Meadow or on the bayou in general since 1997, I visit quite often. Nearly all of my family still lives on the bayou so Jeremy and I visit monthly or so. When I go back, I get the feeling of nostalgia for my old home. I pass by sights I knew as a child, like the rusty bridges over the bayou, the close quarters of the neighborhood streets, and the tiny business along the front road that have been passed down from generation to generation. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to live back there (I love city life!!), I do appreciate where I am from and what it has to offer. Today I want to share some of that with you.

Tugboat on Bayou Lafourche
My nephew watches a tugboat travel north on Bayou Lafourche.

The sights, sounds, and smells are what I love most. I love the smell of the salty marsh air in the morning. It’s interesting to note that when you’re in Golden Meadow, you’re only never more than a mile away from a levee holding back the vast swamp, lakes and marshlands that make up what’s left of Southern Louisiana. I love the fishing culture and the outdoors culture on the bayou; everyone has a boat, most people have camps. I love the abundance of crabs, crawfish, shrimp and fin-fish. I love how I know how to get my hands on high quality versions of all of those things with just one phone call. I love how simple things seem on the surface there – there isn’t much “out of home” entertainment in the standard form. No malls, no movie theater, no “downtown” for shopping and walking around, hardly any restaurants for dining, and even fewer bars for grabbing a drink. My hometown is very different from my current home, but they are born of similar backgrounds and humble beginnings.

Dad's Camp in the marshes east of Golden Meadow
This is our family camp, located east of Golden Meadow in the dwindling marshlands.

Life on the bayou in some ways is quite similar to other rural communities in the United States. People live fairly simple lives centered on their work, families, and close friends. Most people are quite patriotic and many are fond of country music. Everywhere you turn you see people driving big trucks, Chevy and Ford, not because they like the looks, but because they need the functionality. High school football, SEC college football, and the NFL reign supreme here as the fall’s entertainment of choice. Yes, on the surface life on the bayou is much like it is elsewhere in the rural parts of this country. Unlike everywhere else, those big trucks are likely to be pulling boats for an afternoon of fishing in the marsh. While people are very patriotic, they’re also equally proud of, and equally likely to identify with, their Cajun roots. We’re American with a healthy dose of Cajun at our core.

Boiled crawfish still in the pot.
Boiled crawfish is a widely loved and cherished food item here on The Bayou.

Historically, Cajuns are known for being hospitable, resilient and for having a deep love of their homes. Today’s Cajuns are known for much of the same. Most people still stay living on the bayou after high school and some even move back after attending college. It’s still common for multiple generations of a family to live in the same street or at least close by. And despite all the hardship that Cajuns endure including being faced with the decimation of their homelands, they persist. They carry on. They’re not going to let anyone stop them.

Sunrise over the marsh in Golden Meadow
Sunrise over the wetlands, taken on an early morning fishing trip.

Life on the bayou is mainly different from most other places: it is defined by the proximity of the water. By and large, most people in this country do not live at the water’s edge. Where I’m from in Southeast Louisiana, we live among the wetlands that were once part of the Mississippi Delta. I grew up not 500 feet from Bayou Lafourche. Our people live their lives on the soft squishy land that’s formed from millions of years of flooding and river movement. While the land these days is starving and disappearing due to man’s interference on multiple levels, our homeland was once a rich and fertile oasis where fishing, trapping, and hunting were a normal part of everyday life.

Boiled blue crabs with all the fixin's
Boiled crabs are certainly another seafood delicacy. Blue crabs are the most common species found in and around Louisiana’s coastal waters.

Today the outdoors sportsman still reigns in the area, but there’s just less “area” to rule. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of square miles of land in the last 50+ years since the oil field came in and cut canals through our once pristine marsh. The modern engineering feats aimed at taming and controlling the Mississippi River have also depleted the area of the sediment that once built it in the first place. My hometown is unique in that it is in transition: the core of Golden Meadow’s character is changing, from the influence of new people coming to work in oil who change the demographics of the community to the changes in the surrounding land which challenge the physical viability of the community.

Oak Ridge Park in Golden Meadow, LA
My hometown is small but still offers many beautiful sights such as this canal in Oak Ridge Park. The back of the canal is actually one of the levees that separates the town from the marshlands.

Despite all of that, life still goes on. For those who like keeping with the traditions of the area, they make time for the simple yet important things in life: family, God, and the outdoors. Peoples’ lives revolve around those things just as life did for many generations of Cajuns who came before them. These central aspects of life can be seen in every crawfish boil, fishing trip, and slow drive down the bayou hugging LA Highway 1. Until the water overtakes us all, people will persist, as they have for 300 years. This could easily be a sad story, but I want to end on a hopeful note. The people and culture and value of this area will live on in the hearts and minds for a very long time. I take comfort in that.

Jeremy took the above video from the back of my brother’s truck. It’s a view of the trek south on LA Highway 1 between my dad’s house and my sister’s house.

  • Anne-Laure Burel

    Thanks Addie for this great post!! My hunsband and I lived “down thee bayou” on highway 308 for only 2 years, but I truely and deeply think we will remember it for the rest of our life!! We miss the Bayou so mcuh!!
    The video you posted on highway 1 just reminds me soooo much of the comute we made everyday to go from Raceland to Thibodeaux to go to NSU… and of course of the times we drove to GrandIsle!!
    Thanks you Addie for reminding me of those great times! Let the good times role!!!

    • I’m so glad this resonated with you, Anne-Laure! 🙂 Glad to be able to provide a trip down memory lane!

      • Anne-Laure Burel

        That’s exactly what it is!!! A wonderful trip down memory lane… Thanks for the journey 😉

  • Mary

    Thank you for posting this and sharing your perspective. Louisiana is one of the places I would like to live for a year or two when my husband and I retire. I recently found out about bayou life and there is so much appeal to me. I love the water, nature and wildlife. My husband loves hunting and fishing. How do you think the community would treat us? It’s hard to be accepted as newcomers anywhere, but where roots run so deep, do you think people would be open to us? We have lived in many places but are not from the south.

    • Hi Mary, Thank you so much for your comment. I believe that any bayou community would treat you and your husband well. Though most bayou communities are small, they are used to outsiders moving in because it’s been happening with the oil industry for 85 years now. I think that your love of Louisiana would have you fit right at home there. 🙂

      • Mary

        Aww, thank you so much.

  • Mary A. Rotolo

    Really love how you express your thoughts about Golden Meadow and life on the bayou. Many of us still enjoy all the things you speak of. Thanks for bringing a little part of our lazy bayou town into the hearts and minds of others.

    • I’m so glad you like the post, Mary! And thank you for letting me know. It’s so good to hear when people resonate with what I’ve written. 🙂

  • Faith D. Dufrene

    Thanks Addie! My memories of my hometown Golden Meadow are precious and I feel privileged to have been born and grown up in such a place with so many unique characteristics that many others count us as ‘lucky to be from’. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Faith! I also feel so blessed and privileged to be from the bayou. 🙂

  • Bobby

    You know after time off the bayou it feels good to come home here we have a saying you can take the boy or girl off the bayou but you can’t take the bayou out the girl or boy I’m living proof of that being what we use to call a oilfield brat I grew up living in many states as a baby and settling in Leeville at the age of 4 I grew up a bayou boy and if I have my choice that is how I would stay I did like a lot of kids and left the bayou to soul search but it came to me that my mind and body might have left but my soul never did so to say that the bayou is a major part of my life then I would say yes to say I will ever leave it again I will assume that will never happen again thanks for a look into our bayou our love our home

    • Hi Bobby, thanks so much for sharing your story. I love that you left your soul on the bayou. Love that you’re happy and contented living there. That’s what it’s all about! 🙂

  • Nelly

    I was born in Golden Meadow in a clinic. We lived in Galliano. I did not speak English until the first grade in school, we all spoke Cajan French. My father was self employed, had his own 85 foot shrimp boat for many years. We always had lots of shrimp and crabs to eat. It was the best times of my life. The people there are the best ever. I don’t live in Galliano anymore, but memories are always with me. Thanks for this “Life on the Bayou”, cause this is me!!

    • Thanks for your story, Nelly! It’s always good to hear from other bayou folks about their lives and experiences! 🙂

  • Monique Boudreaux

    I was born and raised on Bayou Lafourche in Cut Off. I spent 42 yrs there until moving to the TN mountains and believe me the people of the bayou are open friendly loving and very caring. There’s no place like home.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Monique! We actually visited the Smoky Mountains this past spring and loved them. Such a beautiful place. 🙂

  • Jennifer Perkins

    I came across your site researching information about the Louisiana bayou for a romantic suspense that I’m writing.

    I loved how you shared your experiences of bayou living and you’ve made this a place I would really enjoying seeing. I hope my work in progress can reflect the same sense of bayou style you’ve shown us.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Jennifer! I’m so glad you like the post and that it invoked that sense in you. If you need any help or further background information about life on the bayou, please let me know. I’d be happy to help! 🙂

  • Stephen Bradbury

    I am writing a book that begins on the bayou. I have many questions. May I impose upon you to help me?