Michelle Blanchard Ardillo,
A Cajun girl in her kilt, that’s me. My dad was born and raised in southeast Louisiana, as was I, but my mother was born to Scottish immigrants who came to the US for economic and religious freedom. Upon marrying my father, however, she abandoned her Scottish heritage and adopted my father’s culture, cuisine and customs. For example, although she grew up with oatmeal every morning, she never had it again after she married my father, switching to grits, the hot cereal of Louisiana. It wasn’t until one of my mother’s first cousins starting visiting us from Glasgow, Scotland, (after her retirement and the passing of her own mother) did I come to understand my Scottish heritage. My image of myself shifted. Was I just my father’s daughter? Was my mother’s past inside of me as well?
When I first visited Scotland in 2000, I felt like I had “come home”. The highlands and the lowlands; the heather, the thistles, and bluebells; the shortbread and the never-ending cuppa tea; the heavy accents; they all tugged and tugged at my heart. Now, I consider myself a series of contradictions: Community Coffee in the morning and black tea in the evening, gumbo for lunch and scones in the afternoon, Zydeco to energize me and Mozart to relax me. With my very French maiden name and my fair, freckled skin, I remain a Cajun girl in her kilt.