Sometimes, Life throws an amazing curve ball, like the one I was thrown last spring when I launched the first Bayou Woman Adventure. Utilizing the avenue of social media via Facebook, I pitched it out there, and it went straight for a bit, and then that ball took the most awesome curve, and who knew what kind of game would follow?
Actually, the game began last June with those three women who christened the first Bayou Woman Adventure and continued the adventure this past weekend. The players in this game are my Lil Sis (second from left in photo), and two classmates with whom I graduated high school–neither of whom I had seen since high school. We shall call them Sharon and Connie–the two on the right in the above photo.
A Visit to the French Quarter
We joined forces this weekend in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans to attack the city with the vim and vigor of hard-working women who had been cooped up way too long. It’s true we were all escaping life trials and long, cold winters, and one of our entourage had never walked through the French Quarter and was like a child at Disney World, absorbing every sound, sight, and smell. However, we weren’t just there for a girlfriend getaway–we had been invited to yet another classmate’s wedding to be held at the hotel on Saturday night.
Friday night found us arriving late due to city traffic. Since we were late AND hungry and had lost our dinner reservations, we settled for a restaurant closer to our hotel. Lesson Number One for French Quarter dining: Never eat dinner on Friday night at a restaurant that doesn’t require reservations. The ambiance, service. and beverages were clearly what we paid for, because I have to say that was the worst gumbo I’ve ever hung a lip over. The good company made up for what was lacking in culinary flavor, though!
To and from dinner, we walked along Royal Street, taking in all the antique, art, and specialty shops, making note of those we wanted to revisit in the morning. After dinner, we made our way to the Rouses’s on Royal St. My friends had been to the Rouses’ Epicurean market in Houma, but I really wanted them to see the “heart of the French Quarter” version, complete with a little jazz ensemble set up on the corner right outside the front entrance.
It doesn’t get much more French Quarter than that, unless you’re more impressed by things like St. Louis Cathedral weddings, which are often trumped by their own Second Line promenades through the Quarter.
Our timing was perfect the next day when we left the beautiful courtyard of the historic Place d’Armes on St. Ann Street and were greeted by this Second Line.
Historically associated with funerals, these neighborhood parades traditionally consist of a small brass band and the “first line”–the folks who sanctioned the parade, like the family or the wedding party. Not needing any real reason to strut in the streets, these parades also form in neighborhoods and seem to just materialize, brass horns blaring.
That’s when you grab your handkerchief, scarf, or table napkin and join the “Second Line”. As long as you can keep up, everyone is welcome to join in the festive march. This Second Line reminded us that we had a wedding of our own later that evening to look forward to.
Classmate’s New Orleans Wedding
Held in the atrium of the hotel, the ceremony was simply elegant and beautiful, without all the fanfare of a cathedral wedding but bursting with the love and support of family and friends. But what is a wedding in New Orleans without a Second Line? Even though we hadn’t joined in the Second Line down on St. Ann, we did strut our stuff at our friend’s wedding reception Saturday night.
And what wedding reception is complete without local food? The buffet was endless with sumptuous dishes, but the one with the most local flare and my favorite was the shrimp and grits served in a martini glass.
For dessert, choices were abundant and shouted New Orleans, like cafe au lait and beignets or the Bananas Foster served in a shot glass.
But wait, certainly that tiny baby wasn’t served on the side of that shot glass with Bananas Foster? So just where did that tiny baby come from? Well, if you know anything at all about New Orleans, you’ve heard of Mardi Gras and King Cakes. I’m not sure what kind of strings this wedding couple had to pull to pull this off, but what better cake to serve at a French Quarter wedding reception than King Cake?
These minis were every bit as delicious and delectable as the full-sized cakes. And yes, we indulged, but it’s okay because the dance floor offered us the opportunity to burn off those calories, if we so desired!
As the evening wore on, it was evident the bride and groom were amazingly happy, and their families were just as happy for them. Just before the festivities wound down, the bride and groom made sure we knew how much they appreciated our coming to the wedding by presenting us with festive gift bags.
The bags overflowed with souvenirs reminiscent of the local charm–fleur de lis chocolates, pecan pralines, Mardi Gras beads, and little Voodoo dolls. As we offered our congratulations and parting words to the groom, we joked with him about the dolls; but he quickly admonished us that they were to be used only for good and never for evil.
Sights and Sounds of the French Quarter
Sunday morning, we entered the streets and were greeted by a north wind after a weekend of warmer temperatures. The wind whipped up Exchange Alley, cooling our eggs and coffee before we could even finish eating. Still a little sluggish from our late-night activities, we braved the cold and set about our itinerary for the day.
Then, it was off to shop the clothing boutiques and find treasures and trinkets to take home for ourselves and our loved ones as tokens of another great time in south Louisiana. There’s really no hospitality like the southern kind, and there’s just no denying that spending time in the French Quarter is eclectic, enlightening, and often reminiscent of the European countries that settled here.
As we walked along the street, this little old boot-shod lady stepped out her French doors, yelled up to her neighbor, and after a brief exchange, he abruptly closed his shutters, while she continued to speak to him. Maybe they’re not only friendly terms? Maybe he was disturbing her? Who knows, but it was a priceless exchange that looked like something out of a French or Italian movie.
Inspired by an article I read a few years back about the restoration of this building and by Shoreacre’s recent post about William Faulkner, I was determined to walk down Pirates’ Alley and visit the Faulkner House Bookstore. This is where Faulkner stayed in his twenties and shot BBs off the balcony at passers-by. I guess he did that when he had writer’s block, and it must have worked, because he wrote his first novel there. (Wonder if that would work for me? I could shoot BBs off the porch!)
Our last night together we spent back down the bayou at Camp Dularge with goodies for supper we had picked up at the local Rouse’s. To top off the evening, Bayou Fabio paid us a visit and entertained my classmates as only he can do. Only regrets are that I didn’t take their photo with him, and they didn’t get his autograph. That’s okay, because no matter what his Swamp People fame might do for his celebrity status, Bayou Fabio says he will always just be Rickey, a guy who loves to fish.
Even though Life throws you a curve ball, it doesn’t always mean you’ll strike out. You might hit a foul, you might hit a fly, and you just might hit a home run. But no matter what, you have to take those pitches as they come and make the best of every throw. That’s what we have done since last June. Each woman, with her own life struggles, found a way to step out of the game of Everyday Life since that first reunion. We have now thrown Life four of our own curve balls, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this inning. I know we surely did!