Monday, December 04, 2006

The Lights of Winter's Chill

(Press says, "This tree ritual is strange, but I like it.)

It got down to 36 degrees here in New Orleans last night. To understand what a shock that is to my system, I should add that just last week I was wearing short-sleeved t-shirts and had the ceiling fans on in my house. Brrr.

I’ve been busy doing the revisions for the third book in my Sebastian St. Cyr series, WHY MERMAIDS SING. This is another one of the stages in writing a book that I hate. I get the manuscript back from my editor and she says, “I love it, but…” Her BUTS are always perfectly valid—she’s a wonderful, insightful editor. Yet following through on her suggestions is sheer hell. The scenes of my books are carefully constructed so that one flows intrinsically into the next. The need to go back and add new scenes wrecks havoc with that interlocking system. The book is always better in the long run, but getting it there gives me fits.

So I played hooky yesterday and started putting out Christmas decorations. A nice interlude, although I found my thoughts drifting, inevitably, to last Christmas. Last year when we were rebuilding our house, our decorations were limited to a wreath I hung on the gate in an odd gesture of defiance (I say “odd” because I’m not sure what I was defying. The destructive power of nature, perhaps? The corrupt idiocy of our government?). It was the only Christmas decoration on the street and it looked kinda strange, amidst all the devastation. We did put up a tree last year, but at my mother’s house. Last year, only two places in town had trees to sell—small shipments that were gone in an instant, so we were very lucky to snag one (FEMA had commandeered all the trucks, and no one could get workers to man their lots anyway). We were so busy that if it had been up to me I probably would have skipped Christmas. But I went through the motions for my girls, and in the end I was glad I did.

Last night, Danielle’s choir was singing at Celebration in the Oaks. For those unfamiliar with New Orleans, Celebration in the Oaks used to be a big moneymaker for City Park (which, despite its name, gets no revenue from the city of New Orleans). There were always two parts: a Walking Tour in the Botanic Gardens, and a Driving Tour through the Park itself, with a fantasyland of lights twinkling magically through moss-draped live oaks. They still haven’t been able to get the Driving Tour through the Park itself back up. But while the Botanic Gardens suffered terribly from the flood, they have made amazing progress bringing it back, and the Walking Tour was if anything more beautiful than ever. There was a cold, bitter wind blowing last night, but I am glad we had the opportunity to go, both to support City Park and because, despite the cold, I left with a warm glow in my heart. Slowly but surely, this city is coming back.


Anonymous said...

Thirty six degrees is just brisk! I was walking around outside with a t-shirt on the other night in about that temperature and Lana made me put on a coat because she was cold. I noticed last night that you, Steve, and Laura all had on sweaters and/or coats and I had just a t-shirt on. I wonder why people have such different responses to temperature.

cs harris said...

Steve is always saying to me, "How did you survive in Idaho?" I start shivering at about 70 degrees!

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