Friday, July 12, 2013

A Walk in the Park

Melinda Palacio

This weekend in New Orleans Spanish lovers and Francophiles will vie for attention during the El Encierro Festival, the running of the roller derby bulls (now a whole weekend plus worth of events), and Bastille Day, both occupying the same long weekend in the same general vicinity of the French Quarter. El Encierro festivities are bit newer (7 years) to the Bastille Day celebrations, but, then again, the Spanish arrived first in New Orleans.

I'm not sure which events I will attend, but one thing's certain, my days will begin with a walk through Audubon Park. Since moving on up to Uptown, two blocks from Audubon Zoo (I can see giraffes from my window), every morning at about six a.m., my husband and I take a vigorous two mile walk around the park. Two miles may not seem like much, but at 6 a.m., 80 degrees and 80% humidity, everything seems like an enormous feat, especially keeping up the fast paced march of someone who naturally wakes up much earlier than I do. After a shot of coffee and some water splashed on my face, I'm good to go, prepared to march and sweat. I'm grateful for the heavy cloud and tree cover.
The walk/cycle path through Audubon Park  

On days when I want to snap a photo, I must be prepared to jog in order to catch up to my fast companion. There are dozens of egrets, ducks, sparrows, crows, sandpipers, geese, and always the handsome lone swan. It's fun to see the occasional, unexpected bird that's not in a big flock, such as a woodpecker, hawk, or a western reef-heron.
an egret 
The most unexpected dweller at Audubon's bird island is the aquatic Nutria. Last year, I went to a Nutria fur fashion show. Nutria have overrun South Louisiana. They have big chompy teeth like beavers and long skinny tails like muskrats. Tabasco mogul McIlhenny brought nutria from South America for their fur. Yesterday, I saw four nutria, two in the lake where the swan likes to bathe and two hanging out on land with the ducks and geese.

Ned, the Nutria

Two different types of duck.

I have even adopted a bird theme in my house, in honor of being so close to Audubon Park. When I emailed my friend Susan in Santa Barbara the picture of my desk. She remarked on me having the 'bird by bird' curtains for inspiration. True, Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird has become a sort of bible or handbook for anyone facing a big writing project, such as a novel. But when I put up my bird curtains, I simply liked the pattern. Now whenever I look up from my computer screen, I will be reminded of my friend Susan and my friend whom I've only met through her books, Anne Lamont, and how a big project is possible by breaking it down into smaller parts, bird by bird. 

Next month, August 6 at 6pm, I will read with Nancy Harris at Octavia Books at 6pm in New Orleans.

1 comment:

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Thanks for giving us a break from the hustle and bustle of life by remembering that nature is one of the most soothing, soul-satisfying elements of our lives. Taking time to note animals, plants, and other natural parts of our surroundings is always relaxing and peaceful to me, too. Very glad that you have these opportunities to unwind! Good luck on your new novel.