Much of the USA is now frozen under snow and ice, but New Orleans flows in winter mellow. This is our time between time. New Year's is over — the champagne glasses dried and stowed — and Mardi Gras is about to give way to chaos. Visitors can see a quieter city, especially by escaping on foot or bike to the edges.
White ibis gather uptown in Audubon Park.
And the winter sun pierces gray light at “The Fly” uptown.
My husband and I meander along the Mississippi to check the high water mark. Upriver flooding threatened the levees, but only the batture camps have taken on water. This poor fellow is sinking in the mud, but a tied-up pirogue is on hand for rescue.
We walk along the levee path where leafless trees offer a soft palette on the river's edge.
We slip through hidden neighborhoods where locals coat their cottages in fresh color.
This one in purple, green, and (well, almost) gold —Mardi Gras colors, in case you didn't know.
The past meets the future in timeless New Orleans.
And the modern seeps into the gaps.
The swamps camouflage the water wildlife, and the refreshing chill keeps alligators at bay and offers a respite from the usual southern damp and sweat.
For more of the past, we visit Laura Plantation.
Here, its beauty attracts but does not disguise the narrative of dark history.
January is the perfect time to visit New Orleans without the noise and crowds of festival season. The hotels are cheaper too. Stretch your legs. Take a walking tour. Rent a bike and ride beyond the French Quarter. The light and hues await you.