Be safe, New Orleans!

This morning, Louis Armstrong International airport is abuzz with more nervous energy than is typical on an early Monday morning.  The lines are longer at the checkin counters, at security, and at the PJ’s Coffee stand; people seem simultaneously more awake and more tired. As I sit by gate B12 and wait to board my flight back to DC this morning, I can’t help but feel like I am abandoning my city, abandoning my family. I have had this flight scheduled for months (and tomorrow I fly to Geneva), but leaving this morning seems like taking the easy route out. Shouldn’t I be staying to help fight Isaac?

The Natalbany riger

This weekend was one of the magical Louisiana weekends that I have the privilege of enjoying. After months without a working boat, I was reunited with the Natalbany River. As boat weekends go, this one was particularly enjoyable. Perhaps it was the fact that I hadn’t been on the river since the end of June. Perhaps it was the company. Perhaps it was the weather, which was particularly perfect – cooler than typical for this time of year (apparently, we have Isaac to thank for this). Perhaps it was the mechanical problems we experienced despite a completely new engine. I now know what spark plugs look like, what “hydrolock” means, and why having a 5’8 wrench is essential. Most importantly, I have witnessed the “code of the river,” the kind helpfulness of strangers.

As we were stranded on the river with a dead boat, without tools, and with a single, small paddle, two boats stopped by to offer their assistance. The first boat went to the Prop Stop (the river bar) to find us a 5/8 wrench. They came back with a mechanic. By then, however, we were back in business, thanks to the second boat that stopped by, and offered us their 5/8 wrench. For free, no questions asked, refusing to take any money for the part. With this tool, which may now be one of our most prized possessions, Josh, who earned the nickname “Josh the amazing mechanic” was able to remove the spark plugs, dry them off, put them back in, and start the boat. This process was one we would all be quite familiar with come Sunday evening…

The weekend was complete with my first experience at Waffle House, and the discovery of their famous eggs and cheese with cinnamon toast. The weekend was also complete with Sunday night dinner at my favorite restaurant in New Orleans, Maximo’s. At the end of the meal, instead of the usual cheerful “Good night,” the Chef gave us a solemn “Be safe.” Indeed, the topic of conversation throughout the meal was of course Isaac. Tulane cancelled classes until Wednesday, so my step-son (who just moved in to his new dorm) will be heading to Hammond for the coming few days. As I fly back to DC and a “normal Monday” awaits me, my husband’s to-do list today includes purchasing a generator and making sure the house is filled with all of the necessary hurricane foods. Somehow, I feel I should be staying. And not just for the hurricane parties I know I will be missing…

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