It’s all good weather

8 a.m., our backyard.

People talk about the weather. But today nature gave us some weather we really should talk about. 

Here in the Hudson Valley, we woke up to snow on the ground (and the patio umbrellas and poor daffodils, which have a hard time keeping their heads up as it is).

It’s flippin’ mid-May, OK??

Then, as I’m taking photos to document the  situation, the sun breaks through the clouds. Streams through the trees, the melting starts to glisten.

I look up to the sky, hoping for a snow-bow.

It got sunny enough, and just warm enough  in fact, that by midday we roused the dog and told her she was going for a walk. She donned her harness,  I donned a winter coat  (it was sorta cold) and  sunglasses (it was really sunny).

Off we went. We heard birds. Looked at the stream. Belle trotted nonchalantly past the barking dogs doing crazy circles behind the invisible fence.

We turned a corner.

And the snowflakes began.   I thought at first they were just the little white petals falling off the trees right now.

But no. It was snow. Again.  Teeny, tight  balls of ice-snow.

Then came the wind.  It whistled. Trees creaked. I hunkered into my coat, doing that  huddle-into-a-ball thing that makes you fell cold just to think about. 

 Belle was oblivious. Her coat is thick and soft and various shades of  brown and black.  She was covered in the little snow balls. 

She looked like a furry salted  pretzel.

Belle’s fur salted in snow.

As we huddled back toward our house, the snowflakes got bigger and fluffier,  filling the air coming down like Christmas. It was beautiful.


We got inside. I couldn’t feel my hands. Belle looked annoyed when I tried to towel her dry.

What was it with the weather?

Once I could feel my ears again, I thought, wait, this is a gift. 

We got winter, and spring. We got dark, and light. We got big fluffy snowflakes and  new, green grass.

We got everything in just one day. Very efficient. Very dramatic. Very in-your face.

The Yin and the Yang.

You need  one to appreciate the other. Today, as  we look around us in isolation, Mother Nature gave us a nice big  whack in the face, just in case we hadn’t remembered that.

4 p.m.  walking home as fast as we could.                                                                                                                                                                                              PHOTOS BY PAUL WILDER



















Shelter for a storm

tent copyIt rained.  LOUD.

Don’t you just LOVE loud rain?

Anyway, I’d put up my handy-dandy $59.95 Ozark Trail 4-Person Instant Dome Tent (see above) a couple of days ago, so i’d have a place to vacation. I bought the thing probably eight years ago, and I can put it up by myself in less than five minutes, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, I obviously put it up just in time.

The sheets of rain started whipping down and I was ready: grabbed some blankets and some stuff to read  — “Siddhartha” and “In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe,” (because who knew what kind of mood the deluge might insp

ire) — and  ensconced myself inside my little flame-resistant nest. 

The sound of the raindrops, each one it seemed, banged a little harder all around me. The birds sang, and a white-throated sparrow hopped closer to see what was going on (like when you’re on a Jeep on a safari, you become part of the vehicle and the animals don’t worry about you).

I did find a couple of, um, small leaks in the tent.

They were dwarfed by nature’s 360-degree rainshow.

Another COVID-kinda day….

The many ways to revel in Cajun country

Two little boys stood under a misty street light in the warehouse district of Lafayette, La. Faintly, in the stillness of this damp bayou night, a huffing tuba riff wafted down the silent residential street toward the little boys, a couple of cops, a traffic barricade,  and a few dozen other locals.  Gravel crunched under our feet, a very tall man i a cowboy hat smiled as his kids talked to a photographer taking their photo.

Then headlines appeared,  beamed  the promise of an approach. Tuba chuffing was now joined by the whack of a big marching drum, trumpets. The little boys froze in the middle of the street, outlined in headlight hite.

And suddenly there was — a parade. The first of the season, a walking parade kicking off Mardi Gras events in Lafayette. A litany of  oddnss, Girls in white, fairy-light blinking  tutus; guys in traditional bayou tatter-costumes and terrifying masks,  swinging shiny gold and purple beads; a big school band blasting brass notes in that only down here way that makes your feet move before you can stop them,

And, as I had been warned by a man wearing an Evangline Maid bread button, a discorporated loaf of marching bread slices.  Or, call them people sandwiches if it’s easier to imagine, bodies wedghed between two soft foam pieces of Evangeline Maid bread — the wonderbread, I gathered, of these parts .  Some with matching hats, miniature slices around the brim. Alas, the buns hasd all been thrown by the time the parade arrived at our location. No bread slices either. Not even a crouton.

A marching sandwich handed me an empty bread bag, with not even a crumb inside. I handed it back, as some bees flapped by; maybe they had honey? No, but they had beads, which the children grabbed greedily, then dropped to the sidewalk, immediately going back for more.

A mosquito, complete with a drop of blood at the end of its, what, proboscis?  hovered near the insects, and the children, and anyone with a camera.

And as quickly as they had arrived, they were going away, drifting into the haze, toward a hulking former warehouse that is now a home to music, and tonight two bayou faves will be hitting the stage — the New Natives Brass Band  and the Lost Bayou Ramblers, just back from their Grammy win.

I’d been i Lafayette about two hours, and was already on my way to my third celebration. Mardi Gras in New Orleans may be bigger, but everything about these Cajun country festivities were certainly stranger, and more unexpected!


There’s air conditioning —  a happy suprise — and a bright, expansive bar, and the parade people, of course,  checking their bling,  straightening wings. The music hadn’t started, and Warehouse 535 really was a warehouse, big and industrial scattered with round tables. But the people watching was entertainment enough,  everyone sparkling, from their LED-blinking  crowns and implausible hairdos  to their spangled sneakers. Parish beers (a happy discovery), Blue Moons,  the bottles begin to gather, then crowd, the tables. condensation making them slide easily across to a fellow reveler.

The New Natives fill the stage with brass — end to end horns, trombones sliding over the crowd in front, and also with bodies — some of these guys were kind of huge, making the one small trumpet player go positively teeny.

There are older couples with mirror-image smile lines, skinny teenagers with cell phones and butterfly capes, couples from Los Angeles and a contingent from Columbia, nodding with the beat.  The call and response comes without coaxing, the crowd knows the words,  everybody’s helping the evening just … lift off.

Young women (men?) in slithery spandex have commandeered three wobbly chairs, but  still they dance, energetically and ceaselessly, striking the occasional bending, arching tableau. They  are beautiful and a little frightening, too.

We are all dancing, in our own ways, together. My voice has gone ragged from shouting with the Ramblers.  Fiddle and accordion and,  jeez, a  triangle, too  – like a serious come to dinner triangle. Capable of triangle solos. So there.

Another thank-you-God-and-now-I-can-die moments.


Son of a gun.

Gonna have big fun, I think…

Arrived in Lafayette, La., last night (after three connections from NYC), and headed straight for dinner (do not pa20180209_185720ss hotel) at the Olde Tyme Grocery, a local institution and perfectly located to catch both the first parade of Mardi Gras here, and the  after-party.

You could just pop in and grab a bag of Zapp’s chips and a six-pack of Abita Purple Haze to go.  but beyond the convenience store racks of snacks is the heart of the matter: A down-home dining spot famous for its poor boys and (in season) its snowballs.

You can place your order at the deli window just past the Slim Jims and potato ships,  and either takeout or go for the  sit-down experience in the back, in one of the low, rustic paneled dining rooms decorated with faded  sports-team schedules, kids’ crayon art, the front grill of an old Jaguar, wise sayings about the  value of cats and of  forgiving your enemies (it messes with their heads).

Continue reading “Gonna have big fun, I think…”

Please go to Jazz Fest

The lineup for New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2018 (April 27-May 6) was just released, and (as usual) I am psyched. David Byrne, Aretha Franklin, a special Tribute to Fats Domino – featuring Jerry Lee Lewis, Jack White are among the headliners. It’s not just about big-star musicians (well, OK, sorta). It’s more that, bottom line, it’s #JAZZFEST!

If you’ve been, I need say no more. But here’s the more for those who haven’t.

I have never been able to convince any of my friends to come with me to JazzFest.  OK, sure, maybe the idea of spending a long weekend away with me scares them. But more likely is that once they see photos of the giganticness of the event, masses of people, the litany of musicians in the lineup, they are turned off. One year, I almost got my husband to go; then he saw an aerial shot of the crowd, and that was that.

I understand the teeming masses turn-off. I am not  a crowd person., But at JazzFest – as at many music or other festivals where everyone shares a particular passion – the crowd is a huge (so to speak) part of the joy (especially if you get VIP tickets that come with upgraded bathroom facilities and a little section where the people per inch ratio gives you a fighting chance at breathing/seeing a stage).

Back to crowd joys, though. An example:  I’m dancing my head off in front of a band with a big crazy washboard player and a granny playing the spoons and a brass section and “zydeco” or “stompers” or “hellraisers” in the name. I’m by myself (as noted)  and sweating under a  merciless New Orleans in May sun and lots of swampish humidity, salt stinging my eyes, and everybody looking the same, like they just pulled us all out of the Mississippi. And all around me, people are  dancing: some Brooklyn-esque hipsters with bookish spectacles all fogged up and sliding down; an old married couple with their matching leather-roadmap faces close together and  steppin’ at a bayou pace;  a woman in a red insanely big self-made hat (a J.F. thing) with her face  toward the white-hot sky and a smile shaped like bliss. And I catch her eye and we smile and I realize my cheeks are beginning to smile-hurt.  And the music, the joy, the moment, and the high somehow, unbelievably, get higher.

JazzFest is like the Northern Lights: It’s something I wish/ hope everyone can experience before they die. Continue reading “Please go to Jazz Fest”