Meet me outside, aka the photo blast continues

It’s easy to explore when you have a dog and no yard.  You are forced to take walks, and (depending on the personality and training level of the dog) strongly encouraged to vary the route.

Irish Channel

I utilized our walks to learn the geography of my new area.  I have a terrible sense of direction, so this was an essential step of settling in.  We wound around the neighborhood and discovered the variety of houses and people around us.

After I had my bearings, I got a little lazy and my go-to route became simply meandering around our block; however, sometimes Magnolia got bored with this path.  She would lie down at the corner, and as I retraced my steps to ask what was wrong (yes, of course I talk to my dog), she would jump up and use the extra leash length to try to go across the street rather than our usual turn.  Smart girl.

IMG_5127
One of my favorite houses was just a block away from my house.  Unlike other homes I loved which showcased bright colors and distinctive New Orleans architecture, I enjoyed this home because of its small resident.  The dog loved that the windows extended all the way to the floor, and would get so excited as we walked by!  Never met the people who lived there, but they had a great pup.

A neighborhood playground was about a block from my house.  It was a favorite for both kiddos and dog walkers.  Although it was an older playground, without too many bells and whistles, the dogs used their noses and the kids used their imaginations to enjoy it.  The only plastic toys were a couple of the small playhouses one can buy at Walmart.  These were clearly contributed by nearby parents.  Everything else was spartan metal playground equipment, which at one time was brightly painted, but now bore a tinted and chipped semblance.  The age and slightly worn condition of the playground didn’t really matter; there was space to run around, swing, slide, and get into trouble.

IMG_5361
My favorite: the merry-go-round.  Not found in many new playgrounds.

The residents in the Irish Channel varied by age, race and income level, and the houses also ranged from condemned to brand spanking new.  I was told that it was a more gentrified area, but to still be aware of my surroundings.  Once the neighbors started recognizing me more, we watched out for each other.  The diversity in the area created a feast for the eyes as cultural elements on the homes and in the neighborhood itself were renovated or left to deteriorate.

IMG_4715
This was one of my favorite pictures from my neighborhood because it juxtaposed the piled up junk, broken air conditioner and a parked scooter, with a pristine sculptural feature and traditional wrought iron detail.

We enjoyed exploring our own neighborhood, but Magnolia loved longer walks and even jogging.  In fact, she often insisted upon it.

IMG_5371
Maggie persistently looked up at me through the (dirty) dining room table while I was working.  Time to go for a walk.

Go North!

There was nothing we liked more than walking a mile up to St. Charles Avenue, and then jogging on the trolley tracks.  On the way to St. Charles, we crossed Magazine Street, passed Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, and carefully traversed the busy Prytania Street.  We saw so many noteworthy and lovely things on the way to St. Charles.  Sometimes I showed my next-door neighbors my pictures, and they would comment that I noticed so much.  I would answer: Well, I’m looking.

IMG_5354
It is astonishing what we walked past.  The world arranges itself into vignettes, and if you look, you just might see something beautiful.  Like a fallen flower protected in a nook of the sidewalk, with dryness and death creeping slowly towards its vibrant heart.
IMG_4775
A view over the brick wall of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  I never entered the cemetery because there was a no-dog rule, and I always had Maggie with me when I passed it.

The sidewalks in New Orleans were often broken, and the jagged slabs were at angles to expanding tree roots.  We did not jog in these areas – I’m way too clumsy to take those kinds of chances.

IMG_4943
The wall of the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.  The aged brick was striking, but the surrounding sidewalk had almost crumbled to ruin.

Such damage was prevalent throughout this portion of the city, unless it had been re-paved.

IMG_4788
Weapons of Mass Destruction for sidewalks.

The streets of New Orleans (which were also commonly damaged by tree roots) were given names that were heavily influenced by both the cultural imports and history of the town.  When I first moved to New Orleans, an Uber driver told me that I said street names like the lady on the phone (the maps app).  It was not a compliment, but it made me chuckle because he was right.  After that, I paid more attention when people said street names so I didn’t sound so much like a foreigner.  Example: Tchoupitoulas St. and Chartres St.

 

IMG_5391
America!  The horse-head hitching posts were common in New Orleans, but developed into decorative markers.  Now they also served as a handy method to keep cars from crossing onto sidewalks.
IMG_4828
New Orleans even had iconic infrastructure.  These water meter box covers were designed in the 1920s, and were prevalent throughout the city, but were often stolen.

I got a bit silly about New Orleans architecture.  The hitch in my giddy up on this issue (yes, I was looking at the horse head picture when I wrote that) was that I knew little to nothing about architecture or building houses.  The little I knew was from HGTV, art history class in college, and walking around and looking at the world.  However, I knew that adding extra flourish or decoration could elevate a building from a simple utilitarian structure.  I thoroughly enjoyed the effort/artistry to enhance the structure as well as the enhancement itself.

 

IMG_5384
This home appeared to be simple, but there was a starburst accent, and attention was paid to the confluence of all lines on the home.  Check out the horizontal siding, vertical balcony, and even the right angles highlighted under the eaves and other overhangs.

If I owned a house in New Orleans, I would unquestionably plant Japanese Magnolias.  Not only do I love pink, but by now I think it’s obvious that I can’t resist anything “Magnolia.”

IMG_4827
Japanese Magnolias were in full bloom during my visit.  The delicate but bright flowers romanticized the decorative accents on the homes.
IMG_4830
From ionic columns framing and supporting a broad southern porch, to wrought iron detail and shuttered windows.  It gave me goosebumps.
IMG_5389
Grrr says the tiger.  Prime example of transforming a utilitarian object through addition of ornament and design.  Not just a fence anymore.

The closer we got to St. Charles Avenue, the more beads we saw.

IMG_4773
Mardi Gras parades started before I moved back home, and neighborhoods came alive with decorations for Fat Tuesday.  These beads were up year-round, but many other houses began to sport beads, wreaths and more before I left.

St. Charles

Once we got to St. Charles Avenue, we would cross into the neutral zone (median) and jog on the trolley tracks towards oncoming trolley traffic.  This might sound dangerous, but locals often ran on the tracks, and the trolleys were notoriously slow (not that I’m advocating this activity for anyone else – we all make choices).  The trolleys were scheduled to pass every 15 minutes, and stopped often.  Maggie didn’t like the noise and vibrations as they passed, but otherwise loved the jog.  People waiting at trolley stops would unabashedly watch her puppyish glee, and the blonde she dragged behind her.  I tried not to make it obvious that she was leading the show, but she’s faster than me.

IMG_4782
Arrived at St. Charles just as the trolley passed.
IMG_4951
When a trolley was coming, we’d just check the other side and switch tracks until it passed.  Easy peasy!

Audubon Park

Magnolia and I did not limit our workouts to St. Charles Ave.  I also took her to the heavily tree-lined track at Audubon Park.  The track was about 2 miles long, and was bordered with ancient live oaks along the entire loop.

IMG_5224
Taking an allergy pill beforehand was a necessity, but I am plagued by pollen.
IMG_5219
Spanish moss is not a parasite or a fungus.  Somehow the plant reminds us of the sweltering heat and humidity of the South.
IMG_5182
I was entranced by the fuzzy/furry appearance of some of the trees. And, they were huge.

The entire city contained giant trees, but the park was replete with them, and the track seemed to be silent even when filled with people.  It was as if tree branches larger than my torso swallowed the sound, and created a special, reverent atmosphere.  One couldn’t help but feel like a simple scintilla in the scheme of the universe.

IMG_5171
The water features created a barrier between the jogging/bike path and the golf course it encircled.

The park is on high ground and only lost a few of the large oaks during Hurricane Katrina.  It was used as a helicopter pad and encampment for the National Guard after the storm.

Interestingly, Oyster Guy and I had our second (and last) date on the Audubon Park trail (see: Things in shells).  It didn’t work out with the guy, but I really liked the park.

IMG_5173
Squirrel!! Instant distraction.

Magnolia loved going to the park, but above-all adored encountering all of the different people and dogs who were also using the trail.  She licked James Carville’s leg as he jogged past.  Girl has good taste.

City Park

Last, there was a park where I couldn’t bring Magnolia.  City Park had a dog park, but many portions of the grounds were not dog-friendly.  While this may seem odd for a public park, I thought it was entirely understandable in the Sculpture Garden which contained more than 60 sculptures valued at approximately $25 million. Yowsa.

My friend and I walked around the City Park trail, through the Sculpture Garden and then down the bayou to a wine garden. Top night!

IMG_5063
This sculpture was a reflective, repeating stack of blinded figures which decreased in size as they faded into the sky.  It is debatable whether this blindness was willful or imposed because the figures appeared to be identical.  Only the original figure, with its feet on the ground, was different.
IMG_5065
Ladies love gold.

The gardens contained a myriad of figures, and other expressions which I did not include in the interest of space, time and attention span.  It’s worth visiting and discovering the different aspects of the park and the art within.

 

IMG_5054
Oversized glass beads hung from the oak, mirroring the street scene along parade routes.  This was one of my favorite pieces in the collection, and was called L’Arbre Aux Colliers (Tree of Necklaces).

We didn’t just tour the sculpture gardens; we also walked through a small portion of the park grounds.

IMG_5069
This shaded lion overlooked a segment of the bayou used for paddleboats and kayaking.  While we were there, firefighters asked if we’d seen the kayak that capsized.  Although the water was only about 2 feet deep, the people apparently had trouble getting back into the boat.  While some firefighters searched, kids were overjoyed to be taking pictures in the firetruck.

City Park was expansive and contained many different attractions for visitors.  It is one of the areas of New Orleans to which I want to return, and explore more.  The Art Museum is also located in City Park, and I did not find time to visit (I love art museums!).

The park was severely damaged by the winds of Hurricane Katrina and the stagnant 2-4 weeks of flooding thereafter.  It suffered losses of an estimated 2000 trees, as well as other impairments, and has been under a redevelopment plan since 2005.  When I return, it will be different.

Even though I visited New Orleans during winter, weather in the South constantly changes, and I spent as much time outside as possible.  Being outdoors with Magnolia and exploring the area was part of my everyday life in New Orleans.  After I left, I missed walking up and down the streets of the city, notwithstanding the fractured sidewalks.  Sometimes it was hard to work during the day because the city had so much to offer just beyond my stoop.  However, the occasional walks I took with Maggie helped incorporate the city into my workday.

This part 2 of my retrospective photo blast focused on the outdoors because it featured so heavily on my New Orleans experience.   I know I did well, but I want to go back for more.

Part 3 will sadly be the last post about New Orleans, and I will reveal the next chapter in my nomadic adventures.  My bags are packed, and I’m ready to go….  Excited?  Me too.

– Your huckleberry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s