On my way back from a meeting in the French Quarter this afternoon:
It’s a really lovely crisp winter day in New Orleans; the weather is simply gorgeous, and the Quarter is starting to fill up with Mardi Gras visitors: all those tourists who love coming here to party, but who can make getting around the city a royal pain during Carnival festivities.
Me, I enjoy seeing how happy coming to the city makes them. Everyone has a big smile on his or her face. It’s just all good.
Because we live in this earthly paradise, we tend to forget that it’s just not like this in other places. We bitch about the fact that we have to tolerate tourists (see above paragraph), but these are the people who—if you think about it—can remind us why we Crescent City denizens like living here so much.
Where else can you see a so many happy faces in one place? How many cities have powdered sugar on the sidewalks on a daily basis (I always go behind Café du Monde on my way to and from meetings in the Quarter because I enjoy the aroma of the café au lait and the beignets as I pass by).
I had a delicious lunch in Pat O’Brien’s, of all places, which had a gaggle of people eating lunch, drinking Hurricanes and enjoying the weather in their courtyard. Lunch outside in the sun in a beautiful French Quarter courtyard: what could be better?
Today just happened to be a Wednesday, the day the French Market hosts the weekly Farmers’ Market. The market is full of vendors selling all kinds of fresh produce; heirloom tomatoes of all types and sizes; lettuces; fruit and veggies. All fresh out of the garden. I bought two loaves of freshly-baked bread and a homemade king cake to take back to the office for the OffBeaters (I got the baby!). There was a street musician playing a series of HandPan instruments—a beautiful instrument I’ve rarely seen in New Orleans, which was a very pleasant surprise. There was a cello player with a piano accompanist playing in Jackson Square. And of course, there were lots of street musicians on Royal Street.
Tomorrow is when a lot of visitors really start hitting the city, but there are already people starting to congregate in the Quarter, and passing under my window on Frenchmen and Decatur. Some of them are already in costume. I ran into a whole herd of members of the Krewe of Nyx (one of the parades that rolls tonight), wandering through the French Quarter, presumably on their way to a float somewhere.
We have Joseph’s entire immediate family coming in this weekend, a momentous occasion since they’re coming from California, New Jersey, New York, and London to enjoy Mardi Gras (and some to experience it for the first time ever). My daughter Meredith and her partner Debbie are riding in Orpheus—the first time they’ve been on the throwing side of a float, in costume, of course.
The weather looks to be holding out at least through Monday, but that’s good enough for us. Mardi Gras is when we get together as friends and family, and celebrate everything that is unique about New Orleans. You just gotta love it, and appreciate it.
Happy Mardi Gras!