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Cajun French: Pirogue

I promised to talk about this word last week. The dreaded Pirogue. Oh, it isn’t that bad unless you’re me. The word pirogue is pronounced many ways. I’ve heard it pronounced “pee-row”, but I say “pee-rog” (rhymes with hog).

The pirogue has been around for what seems like forever. If you watch Swamp People, you may have heard Troy Landry (probably my favorite swamp person) say that Christopher Columbus probably had a pirogue on the Mayflower…yes, I know he didn’t come to the Americas on the Mayflower, but that’s what Troy said. yes, I almost died laughing, but hey, he made his point! Pirogues have been around for a hell of a long time. They’re especially useful in south Louisiana because they can go into 2″ of water with no problem. They can be rowed or pushed with a pole, depending on how deep the water is.

Pirogues are narrow, shallow boats. They’re kind of like our version of an all-terrain vehicle. They aren’t terribly heavy, so they can be carried if needed, used in deep water, or shallow water. In the old days, they were made of cypress, but modern pirogues are generally made of fiberglass.

That’s a typical pirogue. It looks pretty harmless, doesn’t it? I suppose if you grew up riding in them, there’s nothing to it. These boats are used mostly for hunting so imagine sitting in it with a gun and a dog while you’re out duck hunting. *shudders*

A few years ago, at the height of my fishing fetish, my godson decided we needed to try to¬† fish further away from the bank. We packed up the pirogue and headed to the spot. I got in…this thing is shallow, remember? It’s also very wobbly.

I was fine climbing in and even paddling out. I was enjoying myself until my nephew found the spot he wanted to fish. He dropped the anchor and we started to get settled and that’s when the boat wobbled to the left. I grabbed the side and leaned to the right. It nearly flipped. I put a hand on either side and clutched tightly. I wasn’t going down. Oh sure, the water was only about 6″ deep, but it’s the lack of control I hated.

The conversation I had with my nephew kind of went like this:

Me: Bring me back.
Him: But we’re already here.
Me: I don’t care. I want to go back. Now.
Him: The water’s only 6″ deep, Nanny!
Me: I. Don’t. Care!

Meanwhile, my brother, who’d stayed on the bank, was laughing his fool head off because my nephew had to paddle by himself. I was too busy clutching the boat in the hopes it wouldn’t flip over. By the time we got to the bank, I was semi-hysterical and babbling that I was going to kill my brother.

It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Logically, I knew the pirogue was fine and we weren’t going to flip, but my instinct was to get to land. Yeah…pirogues are murder for your self-esteem.

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