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Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Love New Orleans, a city risen from the dead

This past weekend I visited my daughter who lives in New Orleans. It was the first time I'd been there since about one-month before the city was struck by Hurricane Katrina. I didn't know what to expect, although I'd heard the city was pretty much back to normal. What I found is much more than what I had expected. New Orleans is a city risen from the dead.

My daughter lives on Napoleon Avenue near the corner of St. Charles Avenue, in the Garden District. Napoleon is a wide street divided down the middle by a large green median. On either side the street is lined with huge Live Oaks that spread their limbs out over the street like sheltering arms. It was an overcast rainy day when I went for a walk along the street, which was perfect for the mood I was in. There is so much sensual material to deal with as you walk along that you don't know what to pay attention to first.

One thing you have to deal with is the broken sidewalks. The tree roots are so large and high that they've broken and lifted the six-foot-wide concrete sidewalks into an uneven surface, perhaps dangerous to some, although the joggers, of which there are many, don't seem to mind. These roots and jagged sidewalks add character that says Nature rules.

Opposite the trees along the sidewalk are the iron fences, many of them covered with white-flowering jasmine bushes that fill the air with their pungent odor. There are also brick or concrete walls dividing the street from the front yards of the two- and three-story Victorian mansions. You can't help but sneak a peek through the cracks in the walls at the gardens within. Most of the gardens are filled with flowering plants of all  types and colors. Patios and fountains also abound. And, as I looked at the mansions, I longed to sit on their large porches and balconies. I wanted to live in one of those houses. Here and there between the houses are the old school buildings and churches, such as Touro & Sophie B. Wright Synagogue & Charter School. I also came upon St. Elizabeth's Asylum, first built in 1865 and renovated several times. They are both huge buildings with lush green landscaping.

I passed the restaurant we had eaten at the night before, the Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar--New Orleans, with its triangular shaped gas lights projecting from the walls and the window seal flowering pots filled with white and purple Periwinkles. While I was there, a trolley rolled by on St. Charles Avenue.

Near the end of my stroll, I came to 1812 Napoleon Avenue, which made me think of  Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, commemorating Russia's defeat of Napoleon's army. I could hear the drums and violins and cellos and other instruments, and the fireworks exploding overhead. It was a fitting end to my journey: New Orleans has been victorious over Katrina. It is more alive now than ever.

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