This Autumn Refresh Your Wild Spirit

It’s finally autumn in New Orleans, I think, since we’ve had a couple of cool-ish days and it’s mid-October. The sky today is a blue so blue it’s like looking into infinity and the air is thin and breathable. Ahhhhh…. On days like this all I want to do is sit lie in the backyard and stare up through the trees and daydream. But the crisp, cool days are also great for revving your spirit up, for tackling projects that were too hot to handle in the summer, and (best of all) for spending some time paying attention to YOU and to what nourishes you.

I read an article on Rebelle Society, a cool website I recently discovered, that I just had to share with you. They’ve graciously given me permission to share their list of 8 Wondrous Ways to Restore Your Wild Spirit, part of a longer piece by Victoria Erickson. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the simple things are still the  best things for restoring a weary spirit. The entire article is here and I highly recommend it!

1. Garden

Gardeners are cultivators and regenerators, harvesting new life and replacing the old, stagnant energy with new seeds. Dig into the dirt with bare hands and breathe the essence of herbs and flowers into your wise body, for it will recognize them as home. Get earthy and gorgeously dirty.

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2. Feed on raw food.

Energize, alkalize, and heal your body on a deep, cellular level. Nourish yourself with vibrant greens and fresh juices with nutrients you know the story behind; nutrients that heal illnesses instead of creating them with chemicals born in a lab.

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. ” ~ Ann Wigmore

Start buzzing with aliveness from food that is also alive, and feel your body’s wisdom beat with every breath.

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 3. Find live music.

Find the kind of music that makes your soul soar from the sound. From drum circles under ancient trees, to jazz on city streets, to underground clubs that keep people dancing through the night, music’s rhythmic beats exist to tell universal truths that awaken us from everyday hibernation. 

Have you ever seen crowds of 60,000 people at music festivals?  They sing with the bands under enormous summer skies, erupting into applause, dance, and smiles so large they ache. If that isn’t the wild, primal roar of the human spirit, than I don’t know what is. Find it, because music, my friends, is life. 

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4. Play. 

Find the most hilarious person you know, whether it’s over social media, lunch, or the work water cooler and laugh. Even if you only have 20 minutes, take a random car ride to somewhere even more random. Dance to eighties music while you clean the house, paint the inside of your garage neon, or watch a Pixar movie with your favorite kiddo.

Personally, I love swing sets. I don’t care what your age is or how busy you are, play is essential to promote a youthful mind which is dynamic, curious, and enthusiastic, and that will open you to new possibilities which will feed your wild spirit even more.  A playful mind is fluid, creative, and of course, wild.

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 5. Make love.

“Despite what you’ve been conditioned to believe, sexual desire is sacred and virtuous. When you and your beloved merge physically and emotionally, you go beyond the boundaries of the ego and experience timelessness, naturalness, playfulness and defenselessness.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Make love like it’s your last night on earth, gasping for air and sanity, frantic under clouds and stars and sheets. The kind of animalistic lovemaking that’s written in books that hypnotizes and captivates. The kind that’s made of heartbeats, intertwined flesh, and fiery, blazing, all consuming passion.

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6. Get wet.

These are cures that open you in places you forgot could even open, for salt and water are a miraculous mix. Release disappointment through tears, sweat from awesome, bodily pumping movement, and swim in the soft caress of water.

These wild activities often launch you into the feeling of vulnerability and renewed power at the same time, while carrying you to a a clearer place inside your mind. Yes, there you are again, wild one.

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7. Tell your stories. 

Tell stories of your childhood, of deep rooted pain, of intense loss, of blood and of your greatest loves. Tell them by firelight under violet, star-filled skies, or by sending words into cyberspace. Tell them over cups of strong espresso or glasses of sweet red wine. Tell them with tears and laughter and faith in the human race. Tell them to friends, to lovers, and to strangers.

Everyone has stories that need to be told, and there is always someone to listen. Make sure you tell your stories while you still have the chance.

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8. Shine.

Show who you are, authentically, and completely unapologetically. Be fearless in your ambitions, goals and decisions. That energy will then spread itself into the universe and boost the human race, for one drop can indeed, raise the entire ocean.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the right to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others” ~ Marianne Williamson

And as you work on these wondrous things to restore your wild spirit, do remember that even when you’re still not quite there, you are a miraculous human warrior and that…

***All images via Rebelle Society

azaleas

Nothing heralds the arrival of spring in New Orleans quite like the explosion of color that azaleas provide. It is a sign of warmer days ahead and fun times in the crescent city. Even though the shrubs are evergreen throughout the year, they certainly put on a display as the days begin to get longer.

If you would like to add them to your garden, now is the time to plant azaleas – buy shrubs while they are in bloom so you know what color you are getting before planting them in your landscape. Or just buy random shrubs and wait till next spring to see what color bursts open when they bloom!

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Personally I am fond of white azaleas – this one is in my garden

Have a lovely spring

New Orleans City Park Annual Spring Garden Show

My latest “holy grail” has me looking for French mulberry shrubs, also known as beauty berry, specifically the Callicarpa americana var. lactea or French mulberry white cultivar. For some bizarre reason which I cannot explain, all of the shrubs in my landscape have white blooms – I didn’t intentionally start out that way, but that’s the direction its headed. Plus french mulberry attracts birds and is very easily propagated despite their relatively short lifespan (8-10 years). I’ve been calling nurseries and searching websites, but this shrub described by Dan Gill in his Louisiana Gardener’s Guide has proven elusive. So I thought perhaps I could get more information or even find a vendor selling this plant at the City Park Garden Show this morning, and brought my camera along for the ride. 

The parking lot across from the Botanical Garden has been paved!

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One of the beautiful entry gates, by Enrique Alférez

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More sculptures by Mr. Alférez

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At the entrance to the botanical garden was a table where volunteers were offering Friends of City Park memberships

To the right of the entrance were sections where vendors were selling flowers, garden supplies and garden decorations

Boudreaux’s Woodworking Shop was there – I own one of his comfy porch rockers

Bonsai!!!

A pretty shadow box of flowers

There were children’s activity tents, and a section where volunteers with the Botanical Gardens were selling plants

Bromeliads and orchids were available for sale

LSU Ag Center was holding gardening discussions – this mornings presentation was on bee keeping, and there was a table where attendees could ask gardening questions and obtain a soil sample mailing for $10.00.

I then strolled around the gardens to take in the beauty…

The Rose Garden

Century plant

The cactus greenhouse

Tropical rain forest greenhouse

The butterfly garden

Still no luck on finding the white Callicarpa, but now I have a few more leads…wish me luck on my quest!

Butterflies and Bayous

We were pleasantly surprised today when we finally decided on what to do on Saturday…

we went to Camp Salmen Nature Park to see what updates have been done since our last visit in February. Originally a Boy Scout camp from the 40’s to the 70’s, Camp Salmen has an interesting history in the Bayou Liberty area.

(click on pictures for larger versions)

When we visited in February we were unaware that the Park would be undergoing a metamorphosis of huge proportions. We truely enjoyed one of the first upgrades of the Park: the butterfly garden. The entire park will be changing under the direction of Edward Blake, director of The Crosby Arboretum in Picayune, Mississippi. If you like interpretive journeys trail system to observe a park’s biological diversity you’ll like both Camp Salmen and Crosby Arboretum. But I digress.

The butteryfly garden at the Park contains all native wildflowers. The blanket of purples, golds and reds attract scores of butterflies. During our visit we enjoyed the sights of butterflies and bees enjoying a cool, sunny Saturday morning. Check it out:

There were several butterflies with these markings.


Can you see the tiny butterfly in this picture?

There are boardwalks that bring you closer to the Bayou and trails that roam throughout the deep woods. It’s difficult to take a bad picture there.

I must say that early autumn in Southeast Louisiana – while not as beautiful as the northern states – is one of the prettiest around.

After leaving the park we headed for the Slidell Trailhead of the Tammany Trace and hubby caught two butterflies attempting to mate.

According to him, the female butterfly must’ve had a headache, because she didn’t want anything to do with him.
Guess humans aren’t the only ones who have problems “connecting”. Good to know.

Have a good week, y’all.

You CAN “do” outside in August in Louisiana!

For the first time in over a month hubby and I had a Saturday where we could do some hiking and picture taking. It was a wonderful release.

A place that’s been on our”gotta visit” list is the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Lacombe, just 15 minutes from our house.

Upon entering the site, you’re drawn to the landscaping. The attention to detail is apparent and it reaches back over 200 years.

This site is rich in history and beauty. The August heat appeared to be too much to handle, but it really wasn’t at this site because of the abundance of trees. We arrived at 10 AM and were done by noon.

Here is a brief rundown of the history of this paradise in Lacombe, taken from one of the info boards:

Likely a portion of French or Spanish Land Grant during the Colonial Era, the earliest known owner was Louis Reggio prior to 1820. The property changed hands a number of times later that century, with the Cousin and Ducre names common today in the Lacombe area among the owners during this period into the 20th century.

The land was acquired in 1935 by Judge Wayne Borah (the youngest Federal Judge in the country at the time), who built a residence.


This structure is a Chimney Swift Tower

He and his family did extensive landscaping, laying out the foundation which is known today as the “Bayou Gardens” of Lacombe.

In 1946 the home and gardens were acquired by former (crooked) Louisiana Governor Richard Leche, who settled into the lush surroundings with his family and continued the cultivation of the Bayou Gardens.

In 1956 the land was acquired by the Redemptorist religious order and in 1960 the Holy Redeemer Seminary opened. The seminary closed in 1980, but members of the order continued to live at the site, holding religious retreats. And apparently, a cemetery was established for the priests that stayed until the end of their lives.

The rear of the residence gives way to a great lawn that faces Bayou Lacombe

This site is loaded with walking trails, as shown in the map below

There are walking trails off to each side of the great lawn that are easy to maneuver and full of small surprises if you look for them

A trail that begins at the parking lot of the Refuge leads down to a grotto

which leads to a rudimentary brick staircase:

Made with local bricks

This same trail will also bring you to a lovely little area to sit and ponder the beauty of Bayou Lacombe

If you walk it a little while longer, it brings you to another pensive sight overlooking a pond.


The visitor center is huge and loaded with information and displays.


This little girl was killed by a car in Bayou Teche and her remains were saved and brought to the headquarters

The Headquarters represents the eight of Southeast Louisiana (SELA) Refuges:

Atchafalaya (prounounced A-Cha-FaH-lie-ya)

Bayou Sauvage (through which I traverse on my daily commute)

Bayou Teche (prounounced Tesh)

Big Branch Marsh (in our backyard)

Bogue Chitto (prounounced Boog gah Chitta)

Breton – close to my heart because it’s a bird refuge

Delta National Wildlife Refuge

Mandalay – only accessible by boat, near Houma, Louisiana.

A visit to the Bayou Lacombe Center is a win-win situation any time of the year. Besides all of the hiking trails, the kids would love the Visitors Center for the displays (lots of interactive stuff there too). The best part is that admission is FREE!! You can get to the Bayou Lacombe Center by taking exit 74 on I-12. Staffed by volunteers, the visitor center is open Thursdays-Saturdays from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Volunteers are needed to help run the visitor center. Please contact the volunteer coordinator at 985-882-2024.

A Piece of Saturday

warning: this is a post about an extremely small community on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. It may be considered boring. LOL!!!

We have our Saturday traditions: breakfast at Sunrise on Second Street (one of the few places in Slidell that make a decent breakfast), then the local farmers’ market for good, fresh, inexpensive produce . After that it’s up in the air.

Today was the day before Mothers’ Day and we were scheduled to have a brunch with Hubby’s Mother and sister in Metairie around noon. We had a couple of hours to kill and decided to wander on to the site where – just a few weeks ago – an Amtrak train derailed due to either misjudgement or pure stupidity.

Backstory: A driver hauling a flatbed carrying some tanks from the Textron facilty in Slidell misjudged the speed of an Amtrak train that runs this route every day and straddled his truck across the tracks while waiting for a red light to turn green.

The results are shown below.


This is the engine that was the lead engine on that day. It was covered at the behest of Amtrak officials.


The impact of the accident caused the metal on this car to curl back.


I took this photo to show the proximity of the second engine to the very busy Front Street in Slidell.
I wonder what was going through the minds of the people driving to work on that day as they looked over and saw Amtrak heading for them.

We discovered that we woke up the security forces at Textron and decided to move on.

I remembered it as being “National Train Day” in Slidell. Train Day was created to bring attention to the romance of travelling by rail. There was a tiny “to do” at the Slidell train station that we went to look into. A pretty nondescript place, we got our goodie bag and then proceeded on to walking a few miles around the park to work off breakfast.

Our next stop was a small park situated on Bayou Bonfouca and the local Amtrak station.

Our exercise proved to be very interesting. Slidell mornings begin slowly and work their way into slow afternoons, which I like.


Carved by Slidell artist Phil Galatas this very cool frog was once a stump post Katrina


This bird makes sure that you keep out of the flower beds.


Another bird on the job


On Patrol

Magnolias are just beginning to bloom and I was frustrated that I didn’t have a ladder with me to capture the beauty of their flowers.

Thanks for sharing a few hours of Saturday. Any suggestions, comments are always welcome. Hit the “comments” button, y’all!!! Let us know how we’re doing!

I just can’t stay inside!!!

By now I’ve pretty much established myself as a picture manic poster on this website. I revel in sights that delight my eye.

After spending Friday at French Quarter Festival (a great time), we decided to check out City Park’s Botanical Gardens. After this visit I will refer to it as the Garden of Eden. What a beautiful place it is. (note to self: go to thesaurus dot com to find a more appropriate word for beautiful).

Between the two of us, hubby and I took over 1,000 pictures. No kidding. I’ve only checked out what I took as of this posting. I have whittled down my 500 plus pix to 50, but don’t worry – I will not post them all here. Just what I think are the best.

So without much further ado I present you the beauty of the Botanical Gardens at City Park

If you ever visit the Botanical Gardens, there is a fantastic, secret garden for train lovers. It’s the Train Garden and I plan to publish my pictures from this wonderfully imaginative garden soon. If you’re ever bored on the internet – as my 22 year old daughter is wont to do – check out the rest of my Botanical Garden pix at my photobucket site

A Crown Jewel in New Orleans

It has been close to ten years since I ventured to City Park in New Orleans. Since then the park has recovered from Katrina and is looking as beautiful as she can. Hubby and I had business to do in “Kennah” and chose City Park to kill some time; we were happily surprised in the beauty that the park offers. If you’re interested, this site Offers the history of the Park. I never knew it was once the site of a plantation.

Here are the pictures, in no particular order.

Click on pictures for larger versions.


the sundial


Popp’s Bandstand


Called the “Colombier de Carol”, this building is also called City Park Pigeonierre, or a dovecote.


This is the plaque for the Colombier . Designed and dedicated by former City Park President and New Orleans barrister Felix Dreyfous.

Speaking of signs and plaques, City Park has so many plaques throughout its 1,300 acres and you can find them and their history at this website.

There are so many bridges crossing the Lagoon at the Park. I fell in love with each and every one of them, as none of them are the same.


The Peristyle, built in 1907.


One of the lions outside the Peristyle


I spotted this beauty at a ticket window just outside the kiddie playground.

After walking the length of the lagoon, we decided to cross the street into another fenced in portion of the park and were extremely happy to discover that it was the Bestoff Sculpture Garden!

A coworker told me about this garden several years ago and I’d been meaning to find it. Glad we did today. What a tremendous place to spend some time.

Described by goneworleans about dot com as follows:

It’s a 5-acre garden under cypress and magnolia trees, as well as, centuries-old oak trees laden with Spanish moss, in the heart of City Park. It is beautifully landscaped. The garden contains several water features including a small cascading garden pool with stepping stones to cross. A lagoon that bisects the garden empties into two large basins, each containing a large sculpture. A sculpture pool cascades down into one of the lagoon basins. The lagoons are filled with fish and turtles. Herons and swans inhabit the area as well. Pathways wonder through the garden and lead to the larger sculptures. Because these paths were designed to preserve the extensive root patterns of the over 200 year-old live oak trees, they wonder through the garden in a design dictated by nature. Smaller sculptures are exhibited in the elliptical Sculpture Theater.

For a dollar you can obtain a guide to the sculptures, which I highly recommend.


Entitled “Mother and Child (1988) by Fernando Botero



Tree of Necklaces (reminded me of Mardi Gras) (2002) by Jean-Michel Othoniel


“Window and Ladder – Too Late for Help” by Leandro Erlich


This one is called “Monkeys” by Rona Pondick and it’s really disturbing when you look closely.


“Travelin’ Light” by Alison Saar


Pablo Casals’ Obelisk (1983) by Arman

One of the strangest things we discovered was what appears to be a grave between the sculpture garden and the botanical garden.

We only could spend three hours at the park today, so we agreed that our next trip in two weeks we will visit the Botanical Gardens and the NOMA. Pictures to follow.

Frost, Unfamiliar

Every few years Mother Nature reminds us, we who live in this land unfamiliar with the deaths of winter, not to become complacent in the temperate world we inhabit. We, who are used to our banana trees and ferns flourishing in January as well as June, rarely expect to wake up to a garden in a less than lush state. But, nature is and will ever be impervious to the expectations of mere humans. Our desires are accommodated only by chance if they fit into the whole, grand scheme of this spinning planet with it’s moon-driven tides.

For the last few nights the stars have glittered like distant ice bergs in the clear, cold expanse of sky. I wonder: do they fall to earth while we sleep, transforming into the early morning sparkle of frost in our gardens?
(Cross-posted from Casa de Charlotte Della Luna.)

Sword Fern after frost


Banana Trees after frost