So, I have been absent from this blog for lots of reasons lately. I return with a renewed sense of joy about my home and gratitude that I can share it with so many friends and family. I will be recording what seems to be a resurgence in shared fun in this most joyful of cities. Since 2005, the fun has had a tinge of seriousness to it as if we partied for our lives. This year, the Saints graced us with their best effort and gave us the chance to relax while they carried our torch for a while...
Today, Saturday February 13 is a good example of a New Orleans day in winter fun:
got up late, checked the news websites for pictures from last night's 4 parades on St. Charles. Even with serious cold, crowds were deep and lively it seemed. I had regretfully stayed home to nurse a slight cold and get better before Fat Tuesday. As usual, looking at the pictures and reading the updates from friends on Facebook made me wish I had been there. Muses is my favorite float parade by far. But you learn to pace yourself...
While taking Maddie for a sunny walk with a Fair Grinds 4-shot Americano in hand, I knock on neighbor R's door to get a further update after getting a note that she got a new job. We sat in her cheerful front room dogs relaxing after nervous greetings, drinking our coffee and catching up. After a lengthy talk in front of her gas flame heater (fake logs are very nice) I leave her to her day (she says she is staying in with computer work) and I keep on walking. I phone M&V to see what is up, they are up and brewing coffee already, even after being at Muses quite late. I promise to help with traffic control during Endymion and hang up. I see neighbors along the way and stop and chat about the Saints, the Saints parade, last night and costumes for Tuesday. Folks beep and wave as they pass and everyone just waves, assuming we all know them.
After leaving Maddie to the sunny yard, I unlock the bike and roll it out to the street. Adding books for S&J to the basket, I make myself a freshly-squeezed satsuma juice adding some carrot ginger from the market to it. I position it carefully in the back basket and head out.
Riding along N. Lopez, I say hello to dog walkers, truck-float makers and early Endymiongoers parking. I make it to Orleans Avenue and realize I must wait for the floats to pass as they head to the start of the route. Empty of riders, with full bags of beads hanging on every available area, they are full of promise and goodwill. The police directing traffic look stern in their motorcycle gear, and I wait til one tells me I can pass-I see a block long gap, and moving slowly and keeping an eye on the cop I cross, smiling and nodding at him as I pass (this is called foreshadowing, Virginia). As I successfully cross, I hear my name called and see that S&J are on their front porch on the route watching the floats pass, so I join them.
We chat about this parade (not one of my favorites I tell them along with why) and as we do, we see an altercation between another bicyclist and that cop. She seemed to have crossed without permission or without enough of a gap for his liking. Words are exchanged, she seems to be very angry and very close to him. He forcibly takes her arm and pushes her away from him. She goes back to him and yells some more, he pushes her more forcibly and back and forth until other police come and swarm her, pushing her strongly to the ground. She fights them and ends up in a headlock and then cuffed. The cop picks her bike up and throws it next to her. Not much later, she is put into a police car and her bike is locked by the cop to the pole. The three of us seem to have a bit of a difference as to culpability; I tell S&J that I saw the cop turn away from her at least twice and she went back to him and that losing ones temper during Mardi Gras with a cop means jail time, and since its Saturday, that could mean until MONDAY. They feel bad for her and say many times how little she is...
Either way, it sucks for her and we walk over to make sure her bike is locked after she is taken away.
I get to M&V and things look pretty quiet. Last year at the same time, we had people trying to drive SUVs on to the lot, knocking down small trees and generally being pinheads. This year, nothing so far.
We have an amazing new vantage point from their front and back porches and windows high atop their Hagan home, just moved into; the sunny new front room is very attractive and pleasant. More people show up all day and food appears from the cupboard and from A's. V generously shares her Muses loot (bags and bags of beads, koozies and various pink things) and asks for advice on how to display her 2 prize Muses shoes.
I go home on bike for a few minutes and eat some shittaake mushroom yakamein from Karma Kitchen (very good!) and make myself a rum and OJ drink and bicycle back to their place. Many people have an animated, roving conversation all afternoon, while we mind the green spaces and eat, hooting at both M & S for trying to avoid finding the baby when they go for a slice of king cake. M spends most of the time tidying and checking his solar hot water heater temperature from his computer, while V chats with all comers and comes and goes with Hettie the scruffy wonder dog following her.
Parade time comes and we all stay with the good conversation and the sun streaming in. Spirits are high. Theories are shared about the crowds this year (seem smaller to you?) and costume ideas for Tuesday (can I get you to face paint me before I go out Tuesday am?) along with normal conversations (What do you think of this restaurant?) in the quiet corners. Kids throw a ball back and forth outside waiting for parents to start walking to the parade.
As the sun starts to go down, the cold intensifies; no one heads to the parade yet. I decide to go home to collect and walk Maddie and say goodbyes with V walking me to the end of her lane. We chat more about costumes and promise to talk the next day (let's see about going to Orpheus on Monday...)
on my leisurely ride home, I run into B, who looks tired. He says N rode on Muses; he dropped her off at 4 pm and they did not get home til after 2 am this morning, so they stayed inside all day today. They leave Monday for a reading (a state away) and seem to be satisfied with their level of revelry for the year. Since I saw them in the 'titRex parade and now I know they did Muses, I can only imagine...
As I walk away from the route, throngs of people in groups wearing freshly caught beads head to their cars, while helicopters buzz over head recording the parade route. The roar from Canal can be heard all the way to Ursuline and beyond. With tomorrow, comes another series of choices-of companions and stages to settle on to experience Carnival life.