Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the Importance of Taking a Nap

The morning sun never caught my grandfather in bed. Getting up while the roosters still snored, and also before the heat of the day, he would eat breakfast while watching Passe Partout. When we stayed with him and Grandma my brothers and I joked that they got up before anyone spoke English – in those days Passe Partout was broadcast entirely in Cajun French, as was my grandparent’s conversation around their kitchen table.

My grandfather would head out to his farm, working until dinner time. Dinner was served at noon, and it was the big meal of the day. Grandma would have two or three home-grown vegetable dishes ready, plenty of rice and gravy, maybe a roast, or a baked chicken and if my brothers and I had been good all morning there were mounds of French fries and a pitcher of homemade Zatarans root beer on the table for us.

I don’t know when we started calling the noontime meal in Acadiana lunch. I guess lunch is what you eat when you live by a clock, “we have one hour to grab lunch.” Dinner at my grandparent’s house was an event, often with visitors, boisterous laughter and long conversations, with no one looking at their wrist watch to see how much time was left till work started again. Coffee was served after dinner and as the conversations wound down, my grandfather would always head off for his nap.

He was not alone in his daily nap routine; all of the old Cajun men we knew would head off after a hard morning’s work for one. They always woke up to start the afternoon like it was a brand new day.

It had been a long time since I took a nap.

All of us have been very busy at the brewery. Byron, Cory and I are brewing up batches of our smoked beer, Boucanee. After each batch is ready there is also the kegging of the fresh beer and cleaning the fermenters and tanks, and then delivering of the filled kegs to our distributors across the state.

All of the work is done by hand and there is no air conditioning in the work areas of our little brewery.

Every weekend and many weeknights there are beer dinners, festivals, tastings and sales meetings with our distributors for Dorsey and Laurin to attend. If we are double (or triple) booked, then my wife and I, or Byron and Cory would head out after brewing.

We are loving every minute of it. We have met and made so many new friends, and enjoyed visiting with people passionate about craft beer, and about our Cajun and Creole heritage.

But a nap would be good.

Over the three day labor day weekend my wife and I, and our little daughter (with SpongeBob boogie board, SpongeBob beach towel, SpongeBob videos, SpongeBob fruit snacks, SpongeBob toothbrush, and toothpaste, and assorted SpongeBob products) loaded up in my wife’s little car and headed west to a condo on Galveston beach. We turned off our cell phones and did not bring anything that would remind us of the work piling up at our little brewery. LA-31 T-shirts and Koozies not allowed.

We did not even bring any LA-31 to drink. Three days without my favorite beer would be a difficult cross for me to bear. (The editor is not taking this well and is thinking about deleting the last two sentences…oh, last four sentences.)

We built a few sandcastles with our little girl and watched as the waves slowly eroded her fortresses. We then jumped in those waves laughing with our little girl as she tasted the water of the Gulf for the first time. Playing in the condo’s swimming pool is how we spent our afternoons and our daughter enjoyed soaking in the hot tubs in the evening; I’m sure she’ll want one for Christmas.

The second day there I got a nap, got another one on the third day, nice. The old Cajuns we knew growing up were right about a lot of things – the importance of the daily nap was one of them.

We are now back to work at the brewery, and though we cannot always squeeze in a daily nap, I caught Byron napping under a mulberry tree and our son Cory sleeping on the tasting porch after our two beer lunch yesterday.

Our grandfather would be proud.

Thanks to Erica for use of the condo and access to her fully stocked pantry. I especially appreciated the six packs of St. Arnolds and New Belgium beers she got for me – those beers made the two afternoon naps even more pleasurable.