New Orleans is a different kind of place in a country where anymore towns look no different than the make up of their strip mall stores. Amidst all the homogenization of American culture, New Orleans, like a few other old, historic cities, remains unique. It continues to hold longstanding, distinctive traditions and for this reason, we visit the Big Easy frequently.
The city has many symbols, an obvious one being the fleur-de-lis, a representation of the iris flower. Another is the color combination of gold, green and purple. Originating in 1892 during Mardi Gras with the Krewe of Rex, purple represents justice, gold: power and green: faith. And you thought this was just a delightful combination for beads!
Beads are one of the typical “throws” that are cast off from float riders to the parade crowds during Mardi Gras. These shiny baubles festoon the branches of magnolias, oaks and other broadleaf trees along parade routes like St. Charles. On wrought iron gates, statues, and even power lines, a reminder of the Mardi Gras culture lingers wherever beads dangle.
While not the same effect on the branch of a Western red cedar, many years worth of beads draping from branches in my garden are emblematic of New Orleans and a salute to part of the country so different from the one I live in, yet dear to my heart.
© Colleen Miko, 2012