Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Remember the sounds and the smells

Sophie, the ice cream lady, said when she evacuated to Houston after the storm, what she really missed were the sounds.

I remember her comment every day - whenever I hear a train clacking along on the tracks, ship horns blasting from the river, the plonking of tennis balls or clopping of horses' hooves -- all sounds I can hear from my end of Tchoupitoulas Street near Audubon Park. Yesterday, I took a walk around the park and found an egret nesting area on an island in the lagoon. The birds were making a mating racket, but nobody seemed to notice.

You don't think too much about sounds in other cities, except to try to keep them out. You shut your doors and windows, turn on the air conditioning or heat to seal yourself off from the noise. But in New Orleans, doors are often flung open so the music and laughter tumbles out into the street. This is a town of many sounds


as well as the marvelous smells.

The Creoles believed that fragrances could protect them from disease, so there are wonderful fragrances everywhere. Somebody trained a honeysuckle vine to arch over the sidewalk on First Street near Magazine. When I walk underneath it at night, the streetlights shimmer through the tiny white blossoms and I'm bathed in the flowery perfume.

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