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Spring ... NOLA-Style

Eleanor Keller

Eleanor Keller

About a month ago my neighbors were rummaging through the shed in their back yard and pulling out the huge pot and propane canister to boil crawfish. That’s a definite sign of spring in NOLA. As I walked the dog through our neighborhood, there were maybe a dozen other households in a 4-block square area all doing much of the same thing that day.

The ritual of spring in NOLA is all about dragging out the seafood boilers, barbeque pits, patio furniture, backyard picnic tables and canvas canopies. The pressure washing equipment comes out and patios, outdoor furniture, swing sets and porches all get blasted clean.
While we are deeply into the swing of spring, our northern neighbors haven’t even begun. My cousin lives in Milwaukee and just this week informed me that she hasn’t even ventured out to rake up the winter leaf fall. Spring is running late up there this year. Very late.
While bulbs that she dug up from her yard to winter in her garage are still languishing in a pot in her garage window, longing for the spring beds, my bulbs have grown into blooming displays of color and are multiplying and dividing at random all over my beds.
I love that we get started with spring earlier than everyone else. When I lived for a brief period of time in St Louis (which felt like half a lifetime away from home...no offense, St Louis), Memorial Day was a big deal. It was considered the first weekend of spring. Regardless of the weather, everyone barbecued. Rain, sleet, tornadoes, frigid temps ... nothing stopped them. It was Memorial Day and it was spring, dammit!
I had to laugh at all this, knowing that down home my extended family was probably already on their fourth propane canister of the season by the time Memorial Day rolled around.
I enjoy checking in with my daughter and her brood by instagram. They live in Chicago. Last week she posted a picture of the trees in her back yard just beginning to leaf out. Ouch. The trees in my neighborhood have already turned from that fresh spring green to the deeper shades of summer.
We may have a lot of challenges in NOLA and a lot to work on before we reach #1 on any top 100 list. But when it comes to spring, I think we are right up there at the top.
If it sounds like I am gloating about our spring -- well, I am. At least until hurricane season starts on June 1.