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Green Weather April 6, 2012

Posted by The Typist in Fortin Street, Jazz Fest, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Its a blue and breezy 66 degrees outside. My cheap weather station says the humidity is 60% just outside my door. The winter-barren columnade of Nuttal Oaks (as best I can tell from the LSU Ag Center leaf identification site) are leafed in their brightest Easter green. There is probably no better indication of spring than my going out the door this morning to pluck a cluster of leaves and look them up when I should be working. If I knew how to weave a May crown out of these things I would frighten the hell out of my son when he wakes up.

The trees just barely shield me from the sound of Jazz Fest construction across the street. Jazz Fest is for me the start of summer, the first time out of the house and into the sun in spite of the heat. It is only weeks away, a movable feast like Easter, tied to the weekend in the middle of the weeks that straddle April and May. Soon I will be standing too far back from the music, digging in my bag for sunscreen and cursing the decision that put the only decent bear clear across the Fairgrounds from the Gentilly Stage. Or I will sit on my stoop watching the crowds pass in and out, door open so I can hear my music between sets, air conditioning bleeding out through the door.

That is later. This is now, the leaves laying darkly on the off-white cushion on the spare chair next to my front-room desk. They look nice enough there but better across the street, semaphores for the gentle breeze, the last not a a trite modifier but the description for Beaufort Force 3 winds. “Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended.” I haven’t put up my New Orleans flag since I took down the Krewe de Vieux banner.

There is room in front to put in some inexpensive flowers, but I don’t have time right now. I think I will just put up my flag instead with it’s marigold fluer de lis and it’s bright impatien red, white and blue call it good.

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The Lost Blossoms of March March 28, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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The birds at 7 a.m. are chattering like a girl’s high school has just let out and my back is aching from spending yesterday humping sacks of dirt and the digging and filling of holes in the yard, sure signs in a place where we measure our year by another set of seasons–parading, Carnival, hurricane–that it must be spring.

You can’t trust the Japanese magnolias. They were in bloom everywhere a few weeks ago, and I only learned their name sitting in the patio of the Maple Leaf bar admiring one while shivering through an afternoon poetry reading. The bloom to soon to server as anything more than an early warning system, but they put you in a mood for spring (one soon disappointed by the next cold snap), and in a nostalgic reverie for my time in Washington D.C. and the blooming of the cherries along the tidal basin, that Odd rite of spring in which the pink blossoms rain down and blow along in imitation of the past winter’s snow.

It was an Odd winter, with a long hard freeze that killed most of the yard and the power company Entergy sucked more money out of my wallet than a pass to Jazz Fest. Everywhere the city was brown, and the last time I saw New Orleans stripped of its evergreen was in the deep flooded suburbs of the Lakefront, the East and Gentilly after Katrina. The dull colors of ground and garden did not, however, put me immediately into some PTSD reverie of the Federal Flood. It must have been the weeks of shivering weather just past that instead led me to remember the lawns of Fargo, the ubiquitous brown and gray when the snows are finally gone.

Now the clover and thistle are bursting through the still dormant grass sward in front of the house, and with tiny patch of lawn in the back is coming up and seeding, at least on spots, and with the change in the air I’m more inclined to try to re-seed it rather than cover it with rock or deck it over as my wife suggests. Not only are the song birds having their ritual March carnival but some possum has trundled out if its winter hidey hole to inspect our yard, driving my wife into a pest frenzy and my son and I to wonder if they make good pets. I haven’t seen it myself, but I may slip a dish of apples into some corner of the yard my wife won’t notice and hope to catch sight of it. I have a soft spot for possums.

One of the few reliable signs of the seasons I can spot from my porch was the tree across the street. I’m no arborist. I know plants about as well as I know art or classical music. I enjoy them immensely at times and know what I like but you won’t be able to engage me in much conversation on the subject, but this tree was special to me, the calendar by which I measured the almanac’s seasons. At first I thought it was some kind of cypress, light barked with a pronounced change of color in the narrow leaves come fall, deep reds that reminded me of my time in the north. I watched it all winter, measuring the passage of cold front storms as it gradually lost its dead but tenacious leaves with each passing wind storm until it stood bare and spindly. And it bloomed in spring, covered in pink blossoms, just after the Japanese magnolias were past their season.

I wish I had studied it more closely, taken a few leaves and a blossom to press into a book because now it’s gone and I am trolling through the terrible mess of digital photos I have dumped on the computer, looking for one that captured it. I got up one recent Saturday to the falsetto roar of small chainsaws and watched (as much as I could bear to watch), two guys in an unmarked pickup hacking it down to a low stepping stone stump. I stood there a while at a low boil, threatening in my head to call the city arborist as the tree was on the median strip, that bit of green between the sidewalk and the street. Can one just cut down a tree on city property, even if you’ve planted it? I rented most of my life and know the rules for private property. What I planted in my landlord’s yard became his. Even if that was their tree, something they had planted long ago by putting it on the city’s land had is ceased to be theirs?

Now I am trolling through websites and Google photos, trying to put a name (too tall when frown for a dogwood, I think; I’m leaning toward an eastern redbud. Somewhere I must have a picture of the tree living (even in its winter undress), but for now all I have is this camera phone snap of it at the end, a pile of beautiful blooming branches piled in the back of a pickup, an aftermath of pink petals littering the ground.

I am probably in more trouble now than I was snapping camera phone pictures of them (the view in the picture is from my steps). It’s never good to make the neighbors angry and best I can figure someone (probably kids) let the air out of one of my tires the other night, but who the hell cuts down such a beautiful tree right at the peak of its spring bloom? People who don’t have a single plant in the ground, not so much as a ready-made planter or basket to decorate their porch, I guess.

If I didn’t have a dam utility poll right in front of my house I think I might even have to miss the Indians this Super Sunday to hump myself over to the large garden center Avondale to buy myself a sapling, and spend another day humping heavy sacks of dirt and shoveling up the worm-less clay of Mid-City to plant a tree. Instead I’m going to have to let it go, as I’ve promised my sister a ride uptown to see the wildest birds of spring and the season’s best colors, the Uptown Indians.

From now on I will have to mark the change of the seasons from memory, standing on my porch with my morning coffee and starting at the barren house across the street, imagining the blood red leaves of fall, the naked sticks of winter, and the lost blossoms of March.

Cherry Blossoms March 29, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, art, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, flowers, garden, home, Japan, New Orleans, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized.
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Sleeping under the trees on Yoshino mountain
The spring breeze wearing Cherry blossom petals
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ~ Saigyo

[deep sigh-h-h-h-h-h]

cherryblossomspic.jpg

I deeply love New Orleans and live to see my first azalea or crepe myrtle in bloom, even if it getting too warm too soon by then. When I felt compelled to leave by personal and professional circumstance, I came to live for eight years in Washington, D. C. or thereabouts. The first real community of friends met online (out of the BBS world) was there, some of the finest people I’ve ever met. I spent some years walking the marble corridors of power until my feet gave out and I decided I had the wrong attitude for Washington: I work for my boss, but you other 534 assholes work for me. That is not the path to K Street.

I met my wife Rebecca there at the Warner Theater. I had come stag to see the Neville Brothers, she and her roommate to see the Nighthawks who shared the bill. We met in the smokers lobby buying a beer. Two years later we were married (in North Dakota, not Washington) and our first house together was on 4th Street N.E. Our daughter Killian was born in Washington and spent her first two years of life there.

Some of my fondest memories from that time are of Rebecca and I taking a bottle of wine down to the tidal basin (before the road on the city side was closed by the memorial FDR never wanted), where we could “crank Frank” (Sinatra) on the car stereo behind us, and sit on the grass under the cherry trees and watch the lights come on in the city over the water.

Not a spring has passed since leaving in 1994 when I don’t think wistfully of the cherry blossoms in bloom in Washington.

I nearly bought this next one online (and it wasn’t cheap) but it was already sold. Holiday Innpressionism is not really my style, but the scene was almost irresistible.

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I think when the crepe myrtles bloom, I will take Rebecca into the park with a bottle of wine and we will crank Frank until the stars and mosquitoes come out.

We now return you to the unending Twilight Zone marathon that is New Orleans.