My second reading in New Orleans at the Maple Leaf Bar in the afternoon, after the Saints football game. Before heading to there I got together with Laura, a poet I met when I first came to New Orleans back in 2009. We met at a cafe in the Bywater section of the city then went out for a walk to the End of the World. We crossed railroad tracks and traveled along a levee to a small sandy spit along the Mississippi where the Industrial Canal joins in. There we sat on a drift log in the midday sun talking away.
The Natchez paddled by as we talked.
Me on the "beach".
We could have talked all day but I had a reading to get to and Laura had work to get to: cutting hair at a local bar.
Danny introducing me at the Maple Leaf.
The reading takes place outside in a back courtyard. Plants, small trees, wrought iron chairs and tables, small walls to sit on. About two dozen attended, some who I knew from previously reading here, back in 2010. Good response and an enjoyable open reading, though daylight faded and light became a little bit of an issue. First day of dropping back from Daylight Savings Time.
Good conversation with a few folks afterwards then Danny and I went over to The Maison on Frenchmen Street to see his friend, Nita, playing drums with a jazz group.
I never caught the name of the group, but they were very good. It was the trumpet player's birthday (he's also the leader of the group, thus the dollar bills pinned on his shirt. This seems to be an African-American birthday tradition that's also practiced in other places. People just add dollar bills to the ones already pinned there.
Leaving New Orleans. It's been almost five days here and I wish I could stay much longer. It's a city I always enjoy being in and have made a number of good friends here.
Poppy, her mother, Pat, and her dog, Sasha.
A very enjoyable stay with them for five nights. I was out often, but the time spent together flowed and it was easy living in the Big Easy. Pat is an artist and art teacher and Poppy tunes pianos. Good people, good friends.
As I was loading the car I noticed that Pat had put out on the curbside some trimmings of a bay tree with a sign saying free bay leaves. So, I gathered a few dozen of them and they will help flavor soups this winter on Wheeler Hill.
I took a walk around the French Quarter before leaving. The pics below are from there.
Lines waiting to be seated.
On Royal Street.
And a couple blocks away on Royal Street.
Bench along the Mississippi riverwalk. These are new since I was last here in 2010. Curved, which I guess is to keep people from sleeping on them.
Louis Armstrong, in Louis Armstrong Park, just across Ramparts Street from the French Quarter.
I left New Orleans, and even though I was reluctant to go, it did feel good to be on the road again. That connected me with memories from the old hitchhiking days. As much as it was great to be in one place for awhile then, there was the need to get back out on the road. A traveler is a traveler and that means moving, going, heading somewhere else.
So I headed to Biloxi, Mississippi.
Pelicans and cormorants on pilings in Biloxi.
Fishing boat returning to port.
A one-legged young Bonaparte Gull. Looks like it's standing on snow, but it is white sand.
Great Blue Heron and Bonaparte's Gull.
Sunset over the Gulf.
Sunset with Great Blue Heron.
My first visit to the Gulf of Mexico. It's been a good few hours. here in the deep south. Tomorrow on the road to Florida for the next few days, with a workshop and reading scheduled in The Villages. Another state I've never been to.
One of the islands along the Mississippi gulf coast.
One of my haiku scratched into the sand along the Gulf shore at Ocean Springs, MS. Didn't have an official reading booked for Mississippi so I decided to read to the Gulf of Mexico.
10 Haiku for the Gulf Shore
as waves lap on shore
Sanderling rushes here, there
keeping its feet dry
tall white sentinel stood through
fishing from long pier
men talk about finding jobs
poles barely handled
beyond Gulf waters
crimson sun breaks through thin clouds
sets water aflame
intense sunset scene
one other photographer
watches through lens too
one-legged young gull
stands erect on white sand beach
how long will it live
fishing must be good
so many Great Blue Herons
wherever one looks
far beyond eyesight
but hanging in consciousness
huge rigs pumping oil
working fishing boat
makes its way back to harbor
nets hang like dark wings
November's white beach
nearly devoid of people
gentle lap of waves
From there I moved along interstates to get over to The Villages in Florida and Peggy and Tom Seely's house, where I'll be staying for the next couple of nights. We released a chapbook of Peggy's last year, Teacups in the Mud.
They spend the warm months up north in central NY and the colder ones down here. A workshop and reading over the next couple of days.
A pleasant breakfast and conversation with Peggy and Tom and a friend of theirs, Dennis. Poetry talk and Dennis read a few of his poems for us. A great way to start out the day.
Hibiscus at Peggy and Tom's house.
Oranges for the picking.
Facilitated an afternoon workshop that was attended by 15. Everyone seemed to enjoy it very much, including me. A fascinating group.
The Villages biils itself as Florida's Friendliest Retirement Hometown. It started in the 1960's and early 70's and has been one of the fastest growing areas in the country. In 2000 the population was 8,333. In 2010 it climbed to 51,442. It just recently passed 100,000! A planned community for seniors with various themed areas. We had a good lunch at a Mexican restaurant. The buildings are all new but have been built as if they are old, as if they have been there since 1905. One of the buildings had that date on it. Created community, created history. Golf carts are one of the main sources of transportation, with golf cart roads paralleling the auto roads.
The main value of the community is the people. They really are friendly and I met quite a few intriguing people. I didn't care for the artificial setting, but the people I got to know were certainly not artificial.