Monday, August 29, 2005

Vieux Carré - Dieu vous bénissent

French Quarter - God bless you. Quite a sad thing to think that the city may be wiped off the face of the earth by the Category 4 hurricane Katrina. I am saddened, there is so much history there, such fragile history, hanging in the balance between the seemingly random movement of the eye and the prayers of all who love her.

My family surprised me on my 50th birthday by all meeting in New Orleans for a celebration. The Café du Monde, Margaritaville, the French Market - all may by lost forever. The memories will always be with me, but the city may not. She is the closest you can get to Europe without going there.

The Big Easy. Stomps With Foot and I visited her often, but we fear we may have seen the last of her now. We were there in April, celebrating our 35th Anniversary and stayed at the Hotel Provincial, said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the French Quarter. Or, so they say. I am glad I got this photo of her.

Part of this hotel, located in the French Quarter at 1024 Chartres Street, was once a Confederate hospital. In that part of the building, maids have reported seeing confederate soldiers and surgeons of the era. There are also reports of blood stains appearing and disappearing mysteriously on bedding in some rooms. There's even a report that once, as the elevator door opened onto the second floor, the entire hospital was in view.

Whatever the truth may be, it was only a quick walk to Margaritaville.

Being 10-30 feet under water will make this bowl of a city, with levees to keep out the Mississipi on one side and Lake Ponchatrain on the other, a mass of flotsam and jetsam. The storm surge and wind will do their damage to the 300-year-old landmarks and historical places because there is no way for it to drain away. Bourbon Street will be flowing with more water than bourbon for some time, I fear.

God bless New Orleans and all her glory. Never underestimate the resiliency of her inhabitants.

I pray she will return quickly and take root in the cracks left by the storm, much like this fern that I took this photograph of growing in a wall of the courtyard at the Hotel Provencial.