There are owls in New Orleans but I rarely see them. There is all sorts of wildlife that are rarely glimpsed: alligators, big snakes, owls, skunk apes, manatees, dolphins, coyotes, whatnot. There are, of course, commonly seen wildlife, too: squirrels, ibises, pelicans, rats, opossums, stray cats, and loose chickens.
I had never seen an owl before the other morning. I was in City Park, of course. It was dark. I was walking our dog before I headed out to buy fresh bed and pastries for the morning’s breakfast. We were minding our own business, the dog and I. We were walking the path around the unimaginatively named Big Lake, at the park’s entrance. The dog, who prefers that his name not be revealed, was snuffling around in some bushes and I was absentmindedly watching him as I listened to a podcast on my, get ready for it—iPod. Without warning, an owl flapped past my head and landed on top of a bare tree about 20 feet from where the dog and I were standing. It startled the bejeezus out me.
What kind of owl was it? Listen, I’m no ornithologist and I could see him as well as you can in the photo above. It was dark out. The sun hadn’t come up yet, but the sky was light because daybreak was imminent. This isn’t black and white film. It was foggy that morning.
The owl stayed perched in the tree for awhile, obliging me as I took a few more photos on my iPod. He turned his head to give me some profile shots:
Then, he adjusted his posture:
Fascinating, isn’t it? Maybe it was a barn owl. I don’t think it was a screech owl. It was silent.
You never know what you’ll see in New Orleans. To see an owl, you apparently have to get up very early and walk around when nobody else is about. While I was taking pictures of the owl, our dog was summarily non-plussed. Something smelled good in the bushes and he pulled me away. No treasure ever revealed itself in the bushes, even after five minutes of sniffing, walking away, doubling back to sniff some more, sniffing some more and finally giving up. By the time I looked back at the tree, the owl was gone.
If you are looking to have heart-stopping adventures like this one, our neighborhood has all the excitement you can hope for. If you are looking to hear well-told stories like this one, well, I’m the one to tell them to you. Frau Schmitt, myself, and our dog live a thrill-packed life full of near-misses, scrapes, and low-key joie de vivre.
In other news, though we live on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans and not on Shady Lane, a naughty lady has made her home in our neighborhood.
People raise families and live our their lives in our part of the city. La Belle Esplanade is in a part of New Orleans that is picturesque and eminently interesting, but it is a bit off the tourist radar. On Bourbon Street, the naughty ladies tend to be prostitutes. On Esplanade Avenue, they tend to be juveniles—not delinquents so much as scamps.
We look forward to meeting you and sharing in your New Orleans adventures.
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade
…where every morning reveals another facet of this gem of a city we call home.
Friday, December 16, 2016: 70 degrees (F) today. Sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. The perfect weather for wandering America’s most interesting city. Crisscross it we did. I’ll tell you about it over breakfast some day.