How I spend a day in New Orleans is very different from how you will spend a day in New Orleans. Firstly, I live in New Orleans and if you are thinking about staying at our boutique experience inn, chances are that you don’t live in New Orleans. I don’t hold it against you. Not everyone can live in this magical city that Frau Schmitt and I call home. We’ve lived in New Orleans for a little over six years, now. They’ve been six enchanting years.
Here’s a picture of our house. Not everyone lives in a house like this in New Orleans. Some people do. Actually, in spirit, everyone does. Every house in New Orleans is a reflection of the personalities of the people who inhabit said address.
The wild ginger in front of our house is really sprouting up. It was killed two years ago during a killing frost, but you can’t kill wild ginger. The leafy stalks are almost as tall as they were two years ago. It’s about time.
I can’t speak for Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, and what she did during the parts of her day when I wasn’t with her. All I can do is relate what happened to me, your humble narrator. This isn’t going to be exciting. I’m not on vacation. It’s not supposed to be exciting. I’m just living my life. It’s a life much like yours. The only difference is that my life is frittered away in New Orleans, a city like no place else on earth.
The first thing I did was take our dog for a walk in City Park, which is at the end of our street. Now, I didn’t take our dog to the Sculpture Garden or the Botanical Garden or to the Art Museum. None of those places were open at 6:00AM. Besides, no dogs are allowed in those places.
The dog and I went to the Couterie Forest, which is a fairly remote part of City Park. Remember, City Park is much larger than you’ll ever know. It is bigger than Central Park in New York City. Much of it is golf courses, but there are parts of City Park that are romantic ambuscades where the dog and I like to wander off leash.
After our bucolic perambulations, I took the dog home and I embarked to the New Orleans Athletic Club to maintain my physique and to improve my physical stamina. This is August and it’s the slow season in New Orleans, tourism-ways. Our inn is closed this week as we replace some cracked window panes and repaint some scuffed walls. This time of year, with an empty inn, I don’t have to take my motor scooter out to pick up bread, pastries, and savory dishes to serve to our guests. Next week, my morning routine won’t include a trip to the gym. That’ll have to wait till later in the day.
When I got home, Frau Schmitt and I enjoyed a cup of tea and made our plans for the rest of the day. She had her regular French class scheduled for later in the morning. I sat in our lobby, took care of some correspondence, did some bookkeeping (the only word in the English language that has three sets of paired of letters following each other—oo-kk-ee) and puttered around the inn tidying and rearranging things before it was time to take the dog for a walk again.
This all sounds very genteel, does’t it? Believe me, it’s not like this when it isn’t August. I say I’m not on vacation, but it seems like I’m vacation, doesn’t it? Don’t be so quick to pooh-pooh our pampered lifestyle. We put in long hours during the busy season and we go for months at a stretch without a day off. Today’s episode is the long-awaited calm before next month’s storm of activity. Let’s enjoy it while we can, shall we?
This isn’t to say that we don’t enjoy our lifestyle when we’re busy. Innkeeping is our vocation; it’s a calling. We love what we do with a passion I’ve never had for any other job I’ve ever held. That’s saying something because I’ve had some pretty sweet jobs in my day. They just haven’t been a day in New Orleans.
I took the dog for a walk around our neighborhood and, as usual, I marveled at how beautifully blue the sky is this time of year as I gaze at it through the trees that line our street.
We’re installing a Tennessee Sausage Hall of Fame here at La Belle Esplanade and I had a Mayo’s Hickory Smoked Sausage packing bag that needed framing so that we can hang it in a place of honor where our guests can see it. [What? I’m the only one who has this kind of dilemma?] So I went to the frame store and talked with Lindsay about the best way to frame the bag. She’s going to do a good job, I’m sure. We talked for about 40 minutes about this and that, not just about framing. She’s very nice. I’m reasonably sure she thinks the same about me.
After that errand, Frau Schmitt was home, so we decided to eat lunch at a place we haven’t been to before so that we can know if we can recommend it to our guests. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that the only things people in New Orleans eat is red beans and rice, jambalaya, oyster po’ boys, and crawfish etouffé. Nope. We eat regular food, too, just like you. We went to Sake Cafe, a place on Magazine Street, Uptown, that is adorned with ersatz Dale Chihuly glassworks, and we had sushi. We can now recommend it. It was a very pleasant lunch with very pleasant company, at least from where I was sitting across from Frau Schmitt.
Frau Schmitt had errands to run in a different direction from where I needed to go. Here is where I went:
- Maya Imports on Magazine Street to pick up a couple of cigars. I have my priorities, you know. I had a nice conversation with Andrew, who is a Certified Retail Tobacconist (CRT). His certificate hangs on the shop wall. It was slow at the shop so he had time to tell me about how he earned his certificate and what he had to go through before passing the written test.
- Avenue Scooters on St. Charles Avenue in the Lower Garden District. I talked with Huong and set an appointment for tomorrow to get my scooter’s regular maintenance taken care of. It was slow at the shop and Huong was eager to chit chat but we didn’t talk too long. After all, I’m going to be back again tomorrow. Tomorrow will be another good day in New Orleans.
- Gulf Coast Bank, also on St. Charles Avenue but in the Central Business District (CBD, as we say in New Orleans), where I had to cash a check. I cut up with Marie, Felicia, and Reggie. It was slow at the bank, so they complimented me on my new jacket, they inquired about my search for a new hat last week at Meyer the Hatter, two doors down from their branch, and we discussed the bank’s Auctions in August program, which doesn’t interest me at all.
- Terranova’s Market on Esplanade Avenue to pick up a liter of birch beer. This is the only shop that carries birch beer, which isn’t a New Orleans beverage. It’s a New England beverage. They’ve only been carrying it for about a month. I think it’s only me and a few other New England transplants who buy it, and for that I’m thankful that they carry it. Karen and Jennifer and I talked for a bit about the best donut shops and bakeries in town. It was slow at Terranova’s so we had the time to share a lot of insights about New Orleans pastry culture, which is much more diverse and interesting than you might imagine.
Now I’m home sipping on an icy glass of birch beer, enjoying a cigar, and telling you about my day’s adventures. Just another day in New Orleans. Soon enough, it will be time for supper, and I’ll be enjoying more of Frau Schmitt’s pleasant company as well as another good New Orleans meal.
Wish you were here.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every day is like the best vacation you ever had.
August 22, 2016: No rain today. The hours slipped by in an uninterrupted sunshine rhythm that promised more of the same in the future. That’s the way life is in New Orleans.