With the old year giving way to the new, I have been thinking of what I want to do this year (like I do at the beginning of every year) Be kinder. Be more attentive and present. Have more fun. Take more risks. (Especially when it comes to my writing.) Make more things with my hands. Travel. Travel more. The last one makes the list every year.
|Sewn art by Chris Roberts Antieau|
Why travel? I believe travel changes you for the better. It expands you. It adds depth and breadth to your life. It costs money but makes you richer. Miriam Beard, writer, American historian, archivist and lifelong advocate of social justice through education and activism in the woman’s rights movement said it perfectly:
“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
I recently spent a week in New Orleans—a trip I took with my wonderful husband David to celebrate our one-day-apart birthdays. It was a fabulous trip with treats for all of the senses. We wandered all over the place, rented bikes and rode all over even more of the place through the tree lined streets, listened to lots and lots of music each day, which is everywhere you go—
On the streets and in the clubs—jazz and funk and rock and Cajun Zydeco and little Indie bands playing on the street corner for spare change.
We savored new flavors and textures at restaurants and cafes—some new and fresh and innovative, some old and steeped in NOLA tradition. (I ate many bowls of delicious steaming gumbo.) Over the week, I could feel the experiences becoming part of me—part of who I am, part of the way I see the world. I decided I would pick the five things that I think impacted me the most—the things that I think are now permanently embedded in my soul.
1) The Singing Oak in City Park. This huge one hundred year old oak is strung with wind chimes from small to large. (one is 14 feet long!) It is a musical art installation by Jim Hart, all tuned to the pentatonic scale, so the wind through the chimes creates a beautiful and soulful harmony. Every city should have one of these. I swear the world would be a more peaceful, happier place if everyone could go sit under such a tree everyday. Here’s a link to a youtube video that will let you listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mcwiy5TKQ6M
2) Walking in a second line for Nelson Mandela. For those of you who didn’t watch Treme, a second line is a tradition in brass band parades in New Orleans. The first line is made up of the club musicians who play the instruments and lead the parade and the second line is the people who follow. It is also referred to as a happy jazz funeral without the body.
3) Chris Roberts Antieau. Wandering through the French Quarter, we noticed a window with a stuffed owl and an ornately decorated deer head set in a snowy forest. We crossed the street and entered the Antieau Gallery and fell under the spell of the whimsical, gorgeous, strange and evocative hand-sewn images created by artist Chris Roberts Antieau.
|Sewn Art by Chris Roberts Antieau|
The website is being redone, but you can see more images at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Antieau-Gallery/113383182050369
4) Lunch at Dooky Chase’s. Dooky Chase in the Treme was the informal headquarters in the 1960’s for the civil rights movement. (President Obama flew in to eat here after his first inauguration.) Leah Chase’s gumbo is widely considered the best. (It was REALLY good!)
5) Dancing to Bruce Daigrepont’s Cajun band at Tipitina’s. Okay, so we don’t dance. Usually. But who can resist dancing the two-step when everyone else in the room is dancing and the joyful music makes you have to move? It was such fun! (We’ll be dancing more in the future…) Bruce made red beans and rice for everyone at Tipitina’s that night. (Also, in my next life, I am going to play the accordion.) Here’s a sweet little video about Bruce, Cajun music and post Katrina New Orleans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfHeDGxh8s
"But how could you choose just five?" my husband asks. It’s hard. So here’s five more things that we both loved: Riding bikes through Faubourg Marigny and the Bywater, discovering Washboard Chaz, washboard player extraordinaire, Zydeco night at Rock and Bowl, eating oysters at Casamento’s, and birthday dinner at Bayona.
Oh, and taking the St. Charles streetcar through the Garden District. And sipping a sazerac at The Sazarac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. And watching the second to the last Treme on a big screen in the backroom of Buffa’s with a roomful of locals. Oh, I could go on and on…
What travel experiences have changed you?
Take Good Care,