There is nothing like a hurricane to bring back memories good or not so good. I’ve been watching the news coverage of Barry as he approaches the Gulf Coast like an angry octopus with its many tentacles reaching out to wreck havoc in everything in its path. We have been reminded once again of Katrina, and what a bad girl she was – much worse than the strippers on Bourbon Street. Let’s hope Barry will be a gentleman and behave himself. It looks like that won’t happen. He’ll go about turning on all the faucets, flooding the streets and houses and disrupting the lives of everyone. If his anger doesn’t abate, we’ll once again see levees compromised, flood gates malfunctioning, and who knows what else.
New Orleans was my home for eleven years and there was little we didn’t explore in the area. I’ve walked on the beach at Grand isle, a place yet unspoiled by buildings that shut out a view of the sky. We visited good friends in Golden Meadow, a few miles north of the Isle, where we were treated with gems of the sea, fresh from the Gulf and delivered by shrimp boats moored in a nearby bayou. The Cajuns are friendly, wonderful people who enjoy sitting their guests down to a meal of oysters, shrimp, blue crabs and fish that rival the best New Orleans restaurants.
The Bayou land is flat but picturesque as a painting. One can see a storm approaching from miles away. The tendency is to drive slowly on the two-lane highway, to better observe the bayous lined with colorful shrimp boats of all sizes, their nets draped and drying after a day in the Gulf – and often more expensive than the nearby homes of the owners.
Closer to home, along River Road, plantation homes surrounded by magnolia trees and spacious lawns took one back to Gone with the Wind, and Tara. We lived in the Lakefront with a panoramic view of the 28 mile wide Lake Pontchertrain. We walked along the seawall that is now being bombarded and slapped around by the angry waters. So many memories. Even back then people talked of the “perfect storm” that would come up the mouth of the Mississippi and sweep all the lake water into the city – a city shaped like a saucer and vulnerable to heavy rains. The lake is also shallow and can whip up some impressive waves during a thunder storm. That knowledge made us watchful of the red flag at the yacht club on Lakeshore Drive when we planned a trip across the lake. To my chagrin that didn’t bother my husband who had served time as ship doctor on an icebreaker around Newfoundland in his earlier life in the Coast Guard. He thought he could take a boat anywhere.
Louisiana is a beautiful, interesting and special place full of history. New Orleans is much more than the French Quarter with its jazz music and unparalleled cuisine. The city and environs holds a special place in my heart. If you haven’t visited, put it on your bucket list. Time is fleeting and like the winds of a hurricane, it doesn’t stand still, and one can’t make too many memories. Visit the Quarter and listen to some blues and jazz, maybe have dinner at Antoine’s and go to the Top of the Mart at the end of Canal Street. Have an after dinner drink and enjoy the view. The next day, take a drive on River Road all the way to Baton Rouge, enjoy the scenery, the small towns along the way, and like Rhett Butler, just don’t give a damn about anything else.
If you have memories of the Crescent City, please feel free to share them.