Storytime: The Fifolet by Johnette Downing
In this edition of Confetti Park, we have a very special reading by Louisiana children’s author Johnette Downing. This is a narration of her new book, The Fifolet.
The fifolet (or feufollet) is a very spooky Louisiana legend that appears frequently in Cajun and Houmas Indian folklore. The say that the fifolet are swamp spirits making lights deep in the swamps…… Great big eerie balls of light, that seem to float above the water, and beckon the watcher to follow! Interestingly, this kind of legend appears not just Louisiana culture, but around the world. (Ever heard of the will o’ the wisps in Europe or ghost lights in Japan?)
Different explanations blame supernatural spirits, or mischievous elves and fairies, or even the lost souls of pirates guarding lost treasures in the swamp. And some people say it’s nothing but phosphorescent swamp gas making the blue fire.
In her book, which was illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley, Johnette Downing tells about the fifolet through the experience of fisherman Jean-Paul Pierre, who has his heart set on finding the fifolet’s buried treasure.
“Through cypress trees and beards of moss, there is a fire spirit that you never want to cross. It will tease you and coax you and draw you near, but all the Cajuns know that you better beware.”
Worth noting is that the music to this story was also written and performed by Johnette. The music is actually from a song about another swamp creature known in Louisiana: the loup garoup, featured on her CD From the Gumbo Pot.