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Lafreniere Park

Updated on July 22, 2018
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I have lived in a suburb of New Orleans for 45 years with my husband of 52 years. A pigeon-toed calico cat, Lucy, joined us four years ago.

Off to the Park: 1:00 p.m.

It's 1:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Ever noticed how Sundays have a different kind of feel, especially as it gets later in the day? I think it's that feeling of another weekend gone and back to the humdrum. I've always called it the Sunday blues. Joe is having a spell with his gout and is kicked back in his recliner with the Olympics. I smear on some lipstick haphazardly, grab my purse and camera and head for the park. At 1:15, I am pulling through the gate. Lafreniere Park in Metairie, Louisiana has been a huge success. It's beautifully kept up, constantly full of people: picnicking, walking, riding bikes, playing badminton, soccer, horseshoes, you name it. Just people having fun.

Today is slim pickings. It's just about as hot as hell must be if there is such a thing. The air is thick with humidity. I lock my purse in the trunk and head for the bridge that will take me to where the birds are and into some shade, I hope. I pass a young mother with her little boy, who is dripping ice cream all over but having a fine time. He says, "Bud, bud." I realize he's pointing to a bird I can't identify. I'm not a bird watcher who knows scientific names. I'm just someone who likes to watch birds.

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The little boy loved this "bud."

Do I See a Man in That Tree?

Man in a Tree

As I walked across the bridge, I came upon a young man who had climbed a tree and was making bird noises. If it sounds bizarre, it was. He was pretty high in the tree. I didn't make his picture because it would have been a bit awkward, but he looked ridiculous. Yet he appeared to be having great fun, trying to get a certain species of bird to come closer. The heat didn't seem to be affecting him at all. The birds were all looking at him like he was insane and none of them moved closer so I guess he hadn't perfected that call yet! He had on a great black hat, I know that.

I'm not going near that man in that tree!

1:40

I'm moving past the man in the tree. He's making some weird noises up there. Next is a young man with his adorable little daughter. He's holding her and trying to make a picture of the two of them with his phone. I offer my help and we get a good one. Suddenly, she squeals: "Tuttle." And indeed, there are turtles everywhere. They sit for a few seconds and then plunge back into the water, I suppose trying to keep cool.

The "Tuttle"

2:00

The young man thanks me. His little daughter waves good-bye. I'm beginning to hurry now. I said I'd be back by 2:30 to check on my gout man, and I do have a destination on this hot day in the park. There's a particular bird I am on a quest to see, always my favorite. They don't seem to be around today, though. Then I see something I've never seen here before: a little rabbit, a bit the worse for wear and tear and probably suffering from the heat. He seems to be trying to find a cooler spot and has located a hole to crawl into.

Mr. Rabbit has found a cooler spot to crawl in.

One Beak Full of Water After Another

For the longest time, I couldn't figure out what the three birds I saw were doing. They would dip their heads in the water as though drinking, then move their beaks all over their wings, breasts, and backs. I finally realized that they were getting their beaks full of water, then putting it all over themselves to cool off. Looked like a great idea and they were serious about it. As soon as the beak ran dry, they dipped their heads again and started all over. Smart birds!

Cooling Off

2:10

It's 2:10 now. I'm getting close to the end of my bottle of water, and I just felt a drop of sweat go into my ear. There's supposed to be a heat index of 105 this afternoon. I believe every degree of it. I see moms with their children, and the children are fine, having a ball. The moms look like they're going to faint from the heat. One woman, a grandmother like me, is yelling to her grandson, "Stop, Tomas, stop. Grandmama cannot run in this heat." Tomas comes back and takes her hand, "I'll help you, Grandmama." And he gently guides her along as she rolls her eyes at me, saying, "Maybe the park was a bad idea in this heat."


Never Too Hot to Beg!

Across the way, there's a whole flock of birds begging for food thrown by some not so enthusiastic park visitors. The birds are lethargic and not especially hungry, I suppose because of the heat or maybe they're just full! On some days I've come in the past, I've seen them fight for the bread and peck each other wildly to get to it first. Not so today. It's whoever it lands in front of that gets it today.

Not Too Much Enthusiasm Today.

2:15

My time is running out. I have to check on the gout man. Then all at once, there they are: the black swans. To me, they are the most exquisite birds living. I could watch them for hours and have on cooler days. Today my mission is to get a few shots and head for home. As you can see, they posed for me for the first shot, the perfect pose.

And that ended my day in the park. The Sunday blues have vanished, thanks to the black swans and even the guy in the tree. As I walked back to the car, I told the guy in the tree good-bye. He made a bird noise at me. Now, tell me, I mean, seriously, what do you say: Are you insane? Why are you in a tree? So I said: "Yeah, you too." He seemed to like that.

It was a good day. No more Sunday blues. If you have a park near your house, you should go now and then. Just being with the trees and birds gave my spirit a lift and made me ready to go home and deal with a cranky gout guy. I don't think endless days of processed air and being indoors is how we were meant to live. Outdoors just feels too good, even on a hot day like today!

Posing For My Camera

Good-bye. Go Home.

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