Sunday, May 6,2012.
I am writing this in New Orleans, a very favorite place with many fabulous memories which include the obvious - Mardi Gras, French Quarter, great food, universities, history, voodoo, the super dome, golf, above ground cemeteries, music everywhere, especially blues and zydeco, and great restaurants which is where the great food is. Are there more obvious things in New Orleans than anywhere else?
I am here because of cold winters in New England that are too cold for my son. After college, he came here for the comfort of snowless ground and high humidity air, with the occasional hurricane. We visit often because we love our son, grandkids, and the city.
After being awake since six-thirty, alternately dozing and dealing with persistent automatic thoughts, I sneaked out through the door in the bedroom. I had learned to use deliberate and quick motions to minimize the noise and time required to unlock three deadbolts and pull open a door swollen by constant high humidity, slip out, close it, and walk briskly away believing I did not wake anyone. All this to have the simple pleasure of walking alone in this wondrous place. I juked my way down the concrete path, ducking lush vegetation invading its airspace, to the street corner.
It was partly cloudy and bearably humid. An unnecessary walk in the Garden District is a favorite activity of mine when I'm in Nola. I would probably get a coffee and a newspaper, but could do without both. I wanted to see the buildings, the trees, the people.
Approaching St. Charles Avenue I spotted a street car, several joggers, people walking dogs and riding bikes along the tracks. Walking slowly, admiring some huge, and all old and unique homes for five blocks, I eventually came to the corner of Napoleon Avenue. There a man was standing on the curb next to several stacks of the Sunday Times-Picayune, hoping to sell them all to folks stopped for the traffic light or walking past. I picked up a copy and tipped him a buck, then wondered if that was expected or common practice.
Continuing up the street I saw about a dozen people in front of a neat brick building which was St. George's Church. Some walked in and others came out of the open door carrying white plastic bags. These were not worshipers, but I assumed were needy folks collecting a weekly bag of food.
Two blocks further I got the coffee because I couldn't resist the warm sugared beignets. Not the Cafe Du Monde, but just as yummy.
Walking down Milan (mylan) Street (pronunciation in New Orleans is another story) I suddenly heard the sound of rain hitting rooftops and the canopy formed by treetops and wide spreading branches. Looking up I saw the dark sky meet the blue a couple of blocks north. Within a few minutes, after turning the corner on Prytania Street the sprinkles caught up with me. I got hardly wet at all, only when in spaces where two trees were not close enough to provide cover. I waited outside a CVS store during a downpour and nodded to a couple I had seen earlier at the beginning of my walk carrying folded umbrellas. Now, each lowered the vinyl barrier from above their heads, shook water off and refolded it. They each had a white plastic bag from St. George's Church.
The little storm left as suddenly as it had appeared. I resumed my sight-seeing, scrutinizing the architecture of the Garden District, which is an awesome mosaic of mansions and bungalows, fit closely together with no two pieces being the same. The buildings are painted in more colors than any paint store has color chips, purples and pinks included. Of course there are black and gold houses, more numerous since the Saints won the Super Bowl. Many other homes of fans simply have a 4 foot high fleur de lis painted on the wall or door. I saw several of those on my short walk home.
Big tree roots have cracked and lifted sections of concrete sidewalk and now puddles and small ponds exist in the low spots. They will not dry up nor drain quickly with the humidity and moist soil.
I completed my jagged loop, arriving at the big yellow house in bright sunshine, and was quickly inside before anyone missed me.