New Orleans The weekend found temperatures pushing the 80s Fahrenheit and beautiful clear, spring like weather. We walked on the new, though long delayed, Crescent Park along the Mississippi River short blocks from our house. The wind was blowing along the River, and the dog was happy for the walk.
Weather went bad suddenly, though we probably have no right to complain. Friends from Montana told of traveling here in a blizzard and a winter with two feet of snow every day. A call from Boston this week told of freezing weather. Snow was expected in London the day after I flew off. Bulletins from Little Rock talked about everything closed and 24-hour street clearing crews. Pictures in the paper were a winter wonderland.
But a Mardi Gras with pouring rain on the morning parades and 36 degrees Fahrenheit with a high hardly expected over 40 degrees is almost unknown!
Chaco opened and I helped man the counter at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse which we usually do for the regulars and folks off to catch the early parades. Costumes were few and far between this Mardi Gras, replaced by sweatshirts and rain jackets as the rain began to pour down mid-morning. Spirits were good but soggy.
A father and son combo on bikes loaded up with some large macchiatos and directions for how to ride to Treme to look for the Indians going street to street. I hope they had success before the deluge. This is the real city, not the tourist Treme of HBO fame.
Driving home from the coffeehouse cars and people were packed under the Claiborne overpass, which had broken the heart of the African-American business district and severed the neighborhood. Occasionally, people talk about pushing the overpass down to street level again, but it’s not going to happen, and neighbors and the denizens of the 7th Ward make the best of it with a walking and hawking street fair that was oblivious to the rain all the way down to the Circle Food Store, just reopened 8 years after Katrina finally.
It may be Mardi Gras misery to the tourists, but for New Orleanians it’s a great day off from hard work and daily labor. We’re a resilient people. We know how to make do.
Happy Mardi Gras!