Five reasons to be thankful you live in Avoyelles Parish
There is a song many of us sing in church services several times a year. Like many things, we may hear the words, but not really HEAR the words.
"Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God hath done. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done" are the words to Count Your Blessings.
In this season of thanksgiving, we can start that list by saying, "Thanks for allowing me to live in Avoyelles Parish."
It is always easier to complain about life's troubles and to point out how things could be better in your community than it is to recognize the many blessings and positives that abound around us.
Here is a short list to get you started.
1. Nature's beauty and bounty.
Avoyelles' farms are among the most productive, and varied, in the state. While many agricultural areas focus on one or two main crops, Avoyelles is known as a top producer of soybeans, milo, corn, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, cotton, rice, wheat and crawfish. The bayous and lakes and rivers are teeming with fish.
The wildlife management areas, wildlife refuges and private hunting areas attract deer, duck and other hunters from across the state and out-of-state. The parish has had several large deer killed here in recent years.
2. Open arms and open hearts.
When tragedy enters the life of a community, as it often does, the people, churches and civic organizations of Avoyelles Parish are quick to respond.
If it were just one or two high-profile, publicized incidents, it could be brushed off as "just one of those things." But year after year, time after time, when an individual or a family is in need the Avoyelles people are there to lend a hand or a hand out.
It happens so often that one could almost call it a "habit." It's a habit that is not likely to be broken anytime soon.
3. Joie de vivre
When the coronavirus pandemic first struck this area, state health officials immediately predicted there would be a problem in Avoyelles Parish because its people are "more social" than those in other areas of the state.
No need to be ashamed to admit what we are. We like people, we like good food, we like lively music, we like to gather together and enjoy each others' company.
Most of our communities have local festivals. There are church fairs and school fairs in the spring and fall. Several non-profit organizations have festival type fundraisers. Many of those were canceled this year due to to COVID, but the spirit of the people has not been quenched.
The French description of this philosophy is joie de vivre -- the "joy of living."
As they say, there's a difference between existing and living. Avoyelleans know the difference.
4. Things can always be better
In every community there are more people who complain that "something needs to be done" about one problem or another than there are those willing to do something about those problems and issues.
Let's be honest and admit that is also the case in this parish. However, it is our belief that there are more people willing to step up and get their hands dirty to fix the problems than many other parishes are blessed with.
If this parish had the industrial/commercial tax base, the natural resources or just a few private grant foundations willing to back our dreams, there would be no lack of manpower and brainpower to turn those dreams into reality.
Despite the lack of the aforementioned resources, there are still individuals and organizations pushing to make things better in this parish -- maybe a very little bit at a time.
Still, a little progress is still progress.
Who knows? Some day our prince might really come -- and we will be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
5. There's always hope
Perhaps the best thing about living in Avoyelles is that it has created in its people a feeling of perseverance.
When nature turns from beautiful to ugly, we clean up the debris, repair the damage and hope it will be some time before the next storm.
When tragic accidents, fires, heart-rending stories of families enduring catastrophic illnesses might make us question how a loving God could allow such things, our people rely on their spiritual teachings that tell us that God never promised to spare us from heartache, but to give us the strength to endure it when it comes.
That may best be summed up in the words of another hymn, "Whispering Hope," which tells us: "Wait till the darkness is over, wait till the tempest is gone. Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, after the shower is gone."