This afternoon we hosted a tea. Invited were neighbors and Phill's work colleagues. About 30 people attended. The count was difficult as we listed it as an open house, meaning you could drop in whenever you could.
Besides preparing too much food, the afternoon was lovely. Apparently, our house holds heat better than many of our neighbors. When you own an old house (all of ours are 100 years +), you talk about drafty bedrooms, slanting floors, and heating issues. I'm learning. Here in Uptown New Orleans, we all have something to share.
The wonderful guests brought gifts. One, who hails from Wisconsin, brought awesome tasting cheese. One kind incorporated bacon. I ate too much of that. A bottle of bubbly, a bottle of wine, a basket of Louisiana spices, hot sauces, and fleur-de-lis objects were much appreciated. C'mon, don't you want to use a spice mix called "Slap Yo Mama", on the back, as in I liked that, Mama, cook it again.
There were two other gifts. A neighbor three streets from us brought beads. "You're my first throw of the season," was his greeting. He marched in the Krewe du Vieux in the French Quarter this evening. The girls jumped on the mask adorned beads, but I eyed the necklace the gift bearer wore--white shrimper boots. (From Nola.com, a video and story about the parade.)
Now, why would anyone not associated with his Krewe want a necklace with white shrimper boots?
Memories. Memories of going with my dad and sister to meet the shrimp boats at the docks, buying the freshly caught crustaceans directly from the boat's captain. The crew wore white boots. Later, as a local seafood shop grew more prominent, my sister and I would join our father as we waited for the white-booted ladies behind the counter scoop out the pounds of shrimp we would buy. Vietnamese refugees worked in the back, de-heading the shrimp and dressing the fish. My nose wrinkled as we walked in the white tiled building. It still does when I'm home.
I mentioned this in passing to our friend. He generously offered me his string of beads. "I can get more. It's our costume. We walk in white boots like these. It's our symbol."
What is it about Mardi Gras that makes normal people covet strings of plastic? Geez, I don't know. I don't care. I've got one string of beads that makes me think of my dad in a pleasant way. He'd laugh at these, loudly.