Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mayhaws and Other Wild Louisiana Things

Growing up in northwest Louisiana, I recall trekking to Jeems Bayou in search of wild mayhaws so my mother could make mayhaw jelly. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this is the fruit of a variety of Hawthorne bush that grows profusely throughout the south, especially in swampy environments. Jeems Bayou, near Caddo Lake is a perfect spot for the elusive mayhaw.

Mayhaw jelly is thought by many to be the finest jelly in the world. I can’t argue with that sentiment. If you can find a jar, buy it and try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Mayhaws grow ripe in May and June, a time of abundant vegetation and wildlife, including snakes, in the area around Jeems Bayou. Once, far from the car and deep in the heavily vegetated area where mayhaws abound, my mother crossed paths with a snake – probably a harmless grass snake. It didn’t matter. It may as well have been a boa constrictor. My mother screamed bloody murder and didn’t stop running until she reached our brown and tan 1950 Ford.

My brother and I found the scene pretty funny but we didn’t laugh when we learned that we had also missed out on mayhaw jelly for the rest of the summer.

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