Despite having slept for four hours the night before last, and two hours last night, I wake up far too early the next morning. The room I'm in has big windows on three walls through which light and heat are pouring. I have been sweating in the night, feel gross, and need more sleep. The image of the porch at the far end of the house jumps into my mind and I crawl from the bed, pull a shirt on, and, not quite able to open my eyes, stumble into a room full of marimbas and other instruments.

I am groping my way, half-blind, down the hallway when Bripi's housemate Alexa steps out of her room into the hall in front of me wearing impeccable attire. “I'm Bripi's friend”, I croak. We shake hands and I continue on to the porch where I fall onto the couch and don't move for who knows how long.

Much later I'm lying there knowing that further sleep is impossible, but lacking the will power to arise. “I think I can, I think I can”, I say to myself. But, actually, I'm pretty sure I can't.

After some more time passes, I stumble into the dining room and fall onto another couch.

A while later I am more awake and walk down the hall to Bripi's room, where she and Steca are conversing, apparently well-awake. I collapse onto Bripi's bed and, some time later, finally find energy.

We chat for a while longer, take turns with the shower (which is wonderful: the head is maybe eight feet up), and then leave for the day. Our first order of business is driving to the Po-Boy shop.

But there's a 45 minute wait.

So I suggest we go to the crepes place by Tulane that I found during my last visit here. After passing through a number of areas I don't recognise, suddenly I see a familiar looking pillared building off to the left. “That looks a lot like your old bookstore!” “It is, but it's not a bookstore anymore”, Bripi replies.

Once again in familiar territory, I'm able to drive directly to the crepes shop where $9 secures a Spanish Breakfast Omelet (eggs, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, ham, and a number of other ingredients I forget). Bripi and Steca acquire similar fare and we drive over to Audobon Park.

There a kind of lethargy takes over as we stroll slowly around the pond stopping to sit on bench after bench.

As we're sitting on one bench, Bripi and Steca are talking and I'm nearly nodding off again. Without warning, I sneeze and the ground in front of me, previously covered with glass, is now interspersed with a spray of blood. Our sit on the bench is drawn out while I staunch the flow, but it ends up being a good thing because when we arise, we have more energy.

At the far end of the park, there's a truck selling SnoBalls: cups of shredded ice with bright neon flavours and a goodly amount of sugar. Lemon-lime restores energy and hydration to our worlds. We're drawn out of the park by the sounds of piano coming from someone's home, and then continue on to the river to see the barges glide back and forth. In my mind, the building in which Bripi was working the last time I visited should be near here. She confirms this, but says it's since been torn down.

We sit at another bench and watch the people, many of whom are quite fit, variously walk, run, or bike by. On the far side of the path from us, a turtle is slowly making its way through the grass towards the path. But everyone keeps stopping to gawk at it.

The turtle finally makes it onto the path and, seemingly aware that it is now vulnerable, doubles its pace, pratically running forward. But it is no good. The arrival of the Misguided Animal Lover in the Red Hat poses a formidible barrier. It retreats into its shell as she bends down to audibly ask, “Where are you going?“ When a girl rolls up on a bike to see what's going on, she if the girl knows where the turtles home is. The girl doesn't. So the MALitRHa goes out on the golf course. We see her walking from golfer to golfer, pointing back at the turtle and gesticulating. In the meantime, the girl picks the turtle up and puts it back on the side of the path it was coming from. The MALitRHa returns and looms over the turtle.

At this point, I walk over and explain that I have been watching the turtle try to cross the road for a number of minutes, and that it would probably be better if we just all left it alone. The MALitRHa looks at me with concern, “Do you think that yard is its home? Do you think it will be safe there? Do you think a dog will eat it?” “I think that we should let the turtle do as it wishes, and that it has a shell which protects it from dogs.”

The MALitRHa seems to find this reasonable, but cannot give up the idea that she needs to help the turtle: “I'll carry it across the path.” And with that she picks the turtle up, crosses the path, crosses the grass on the far side of the path, and nestles it into some high ferns a good thirty feet away.

I feel badly for the turtle. I imagine that if you're used to transversing the world at a slow speed and seeing it from a particular angle, that it is probably highly-disconcerting to suddenly be picked up and moved to a different place. Probably the turtle is lost now, but I'm not going to pretend I know whether that's true, and I'm not going to move the turtle again in an attempt to rectify things.

The MALitRHa saunters off, having done a good deed. The girl on the bike gives me a kind of pained smile which seems to indicate she recognises something ridiculous has just happened.

After the park, we go to the grocery store and buy ingredients for a supper idea I have. We set some lentils boiling. I finely slice a sweet potato and pepper. Steca chops an onion and poaches a pound of chicken. This all gets sauteed together, mixed with a coconut curry korma sauce, and left simmering for a while. Done, we eat it with a quinoa spinach salad topped with an olive oil and balsamic emulsion.

We follow supper up by heading out onto the porch roof to sing sea shanties and Irish ballads late into the night.




Check if this is a private message just for Richard: