A Memorable Place

New Orleans restores sense of wonder

By Robert Lidston


It is a warm afternoon in New Orleans. A bride and groom, their wedding party, friends and a tuxedoed man carrying a tuba step out of the St. Louis Cathedral and into Jackson Square, where a limousine awaits.

Wedding guests blow bubbles that drift toward the strangers on the steps of the building next door who are listening to a jazz band of street performers play "The Sheik of Araby" on battered instruments. A couple dances.

A mule-drawn carriage with top-hatted driver and tourist passengers clip-clops up St. Peter Street. On the iron fence behind the band, French Quarter street scenes in bright primary colors are offered for sale.

At a card table, a fortuneteller beguiles a customer. Nearby, a tall blond-haired youth with wire-rim glasses walks like a T. rex, his face and clothes painted green and yellow. A tired-looking woman with matted hair and a worn, wrinkled dress sits on the edge of a fountain and stares into the water.

Winos congregate, young lovers sunbathe, visiting conventioneers stroll.

All of this, and much more, is happening at the same time and within the space of just a few square yards.

There is so much history, art, music and food in the Crescent City on the Mississippi River, why pay so much attention to one small area and one brief moment in time?

The answer is simple: If you have lost, or never had, a sense of wonder at the diversity of human beings, you can find it in just a few minutes in Jackson Square. This concentrated diversity is what is unique about New Orleans and what makes possible all those other things for which the city is justifiably renowned.

An old jazz song asks, "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?"

There is a deeper question concealed within the obvious, nostalgic one of the lyric. Perhaps it is best answered by paraphrasing Samuel Johnson's oft-quoted remark about another great city: "The person who is tired of New Orleans is tired of life."

We should give thanks that New Orleans and its people are there to amaze and renew us, if only we will let them.

Robert Lidston lives in Cockeysville.

My Best Shot

F. Lester Simon, Jr., Towson

Baltimore County colors

This fall, while driving around in the upper reaches of Baltimore County looking for autumn colors, my wife and I passed a number of farms, a few horse farms and many trees beginning to turn. Then we found a narrow country road and decided to follow it, partly because it was headed south, toward home. Suddenly, we came upon this scene with its beautiful colors and composition.

Readers Recommend


Dave Valente, Relay

My girlfriend and I visited Rome last summer and went to the opening night of La Festa de Noantri, a two-week street festival held each July in Trastevere. After we crossed the Ponte Cestio (pictured), we left behind Rome's tour-bus scene and walked wide-eyed through the crowds of locals as they danced and partied in the streets.

Mount Rainier, Wash.

Michael Kastendike, Perry Hall

While on a vacation in Seattle, I took a two-hour drive to the Paradise Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park. The view of the mountain and glaciers is breathtaking.

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