I had a great morning. I bought all kinds of healthy, delicious local food at the Farmers’ Market, and then made an impulsive decision to eat a very early lunch – the chefs from Five Fifty Five were whipping up bronzed fish with lump crabmeat and red peppers – and some kind of divine sauce and micro greens – for $5! Sounded like a plan to me!
I went to go sit at the shady picnic table and who is there but the iconic woman I’ve seen riding her bike around town since I moved here nearly twenty years ago. She’s always seemed so cool to me, with her long blondish/white hair and her perpetual Mona Lisa smile.
She struck up a pleasant conversation with me – about local news, etc., and then I asked her, “Do you ride around town on a bike, sometimes with a little dog in the basket?” Yes – she does – it’s her. I proceeded to find out all I could about her amazing life without seeming too nosy or intrusive. And then I took her picture. I hope to run into her again soon! She’s popular – at least a half a dozen folks said hello to her while we were chatting.
Her name is Jean. She moved to New Orleans in the 1950′s to be a nightclub singer. She’s never had a car – she has always bicycled or walked everywhere. Or taken the train or bus to go to her sister’s house in Palm Springs. She talked about how the trains don’t run there anymore and how she’s not a fan of the service on Greyhound.
She’s 88 years old and I hope I’m as lucid, capable, interesting and fit as she is when I’m 88! She has great jewelry – tons of rings and bracelets and a necklace that looks like she’s been adding charms to it for some time. Dice, keys, turquoise stones, and more.
She lives on the batture. The batture! It’s only one of the most romantic places to live in all of the city. It’s a selection of ten or so properties on the other side of the river levee, right at the Parish line. It’s like living in the country, while still being in the city. Your front yard is the earthen levee and your back yard is the river.
It’s a little tricky at times like this when the river is approaching a historic high. I walked up to the levee after our chat – I had been curious about the houses up there and how the water looked, and I thought I ought to get a photo of the river up against the actual levee rather than the ones I posted yesterday.
Yep – the water is high. Jean said she has less than a foot of wiggle room before the river will be in her house, but she didn’t seem worried. I guess you don’t make it to 88 in good health and good spirits by worrying. Jean is my new role model.
After my walk, as I was driving home (I had more goodies than I could fit on my bike, including a half-flat of strawberries), I looked to the right, and there she was, riding her pink bike along the levee, her hair streaming behind her.