It’s a beautiful day to be on a bicycle in New Orleans.
The weather is in a magical in-between state. The mornings are still chilly and the afternoons warm, but the humidity is low and the sun is shining and the leaves on the trees are an intensely bright green.
I rode around the city all day on my bike. Sundays are fantastic days here. Instead of rushing around in cars, everyone is hanging out. Probably eating. Traffic is calm and the streets are clear. I rode from Lakeview through City Park, then through Mid-City and a bunch of neighborhoods whose names I know but whose boundaries I’ve never been clear on, full of shotgun houses smashed up together like books on a crowded shelf. I rode through the French Quarter, where the people on porches gave way to tourists. I rode out to the Ninth Ward and saw the Brad Pitt houses and the still devastated houses beyond that bright patch of life. I saw the place where Homer Plessy was arrested for boarding a whites only railroad car. I watched tugboats motor down the big brown river. I could smell the beignets and the crab boil on the levee and a man played the trumpet. I passed a pirate in the French Quarter and we exchanged “arrrr”s. I saw a church congregation parading in the street carrying palm fronds. I had a cup of cafe au lait in the French Quarter and passed people walking their dogs or jogging on the path along Bayou St. John. I fell in love a little more.
Touring around the city, it always strikes me that this is a place of both beauty and ugliness, of both sorrow and joy, and that living here is like having an on-again, off-again relationship with a volatile, exuberant, messy, bipolar artist who both paints masterpieces and slashes your tires, who cheats on you and then saves your life.