10 April 2006

Photo du Jour: A Lakeview Sunflower

Saturday and Sunday were ideal New Orleans spring days. The sky was blue and there was a slight hint of coolness in the air as the humidity remained low and breezes blew. Days like these are the type you hope for at least one of the two weekends of Jazzfest at the end of this month. Its now been 225 days since New Orleans was overcome by Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward, and St. Bernard were swamped by Lake Borgne, Chandeleur Sound, and Breton Sound. Although the houses and buildings in neighborhoods in these areas remain ruined and uninhabited as if time froze on that summer afternoon seven months ago, mother nature has other ideas for the land these structures stand upon. This climate paired with the richness of these soils create maintenance issues in normal times: plants, weeds, grasses will grow anywhere and everywhere in Southern Louisiana. Most non-trees--bushes, shrubs, specimen plantings like sagos--in heavily flooded areas died after being underwater for over two weeks, but from what I can tell most trees over ten feet in height (minus Southern Magnolias which are dead all over the place--even in areas that got less than two feet) seemed to have survived. There may be long-term implications of course, but I have been surprised how well most heavily-flooded trees made out--at least seven months out.

As the weather turns warmer (and wetter--at least normally) the unmaintained for, abandoned properties are going to become jungles of weeds, wildflowers, vines, and eventually "trash" trees such as Chinese Tallow, Hackberry, etc. This is going to cause significant problems with rodents and other animals. Grounds cannot be left "un-manned" in this environment as they will quickly become unmanageable. This is the reason I seriously question the notion of "greenspace" in areas "deemed not redevelopable" as proposed in the BNOB ULI plan. City Park's 1,300 acres represent maybe 1/8 of the area that could be added as "greenspace" if permanently abandoning certain areas comes into fruition. These 1,300 acres alone have been troublesome to upkeep (not knocking the City Park staff--its just an incredibly huge beast to tame), so how on earth are another 8,000 or so acres going to maintained enough to simply pacify basic public safety much less any "amenities?"

Ok--enough rambling. The above picture is of a sunflower on one of those back allies that parallel the north/south streets throughout Lakeview. Seemed like I saw sunflowers all over the place in Lakeview. All sorts of plants--mostly weeds, but some "domesticated" plant materials as well--are growing like mad now. The lesson of this post: life will persist no matter how bleak appearances may be. The same can be said for the City of New Orleans and her citizenry . . . .

Tim has a similar post today . . .

I've been taking a bunch of panoramas lately. More to come . . .


At April 11, 2006 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to the Sunflower in Lakeview. I think it's a quote from Jurassic Park, of all places, but "life will find a way". And name a more vibrant city than New Orleans?!

At April 11, 2006 7:47 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Kobe sunflowers:

Take a moment to reflect on the value of life. The Great Hanshin Earthquake reminded all of us of the importance of human bonds.

As she gazed at the collapsed home, Itsuka Kato, 25, couldn't help but recall the events of 10 years ago.

Late last year, Kato was volunteering to help victims of the October Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake move to new locations in the Niigata Prefectural town of Kawaguchi-an area hit hard by the temblor that registered 7 on the Japanese quake-intensity scale.

Kato clutched a fistful of seeds in her hand. A decade before, her own home had been flattened when the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe and the surrounding area. Her younger sister, a sixth grader in elementary school at the time, died in that disaster. The seeds she held were from sunflowers that bloomed later on at the site of her family's ravaged home.

Kato fears that, in time, the victims of the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake will also grow weary of their lives in temporary housing. She wants to convey her message. She hopes, that by gazing at the pretty sunflowers in full bloom, the victims can take heart and work to put their lives back in order.

And Haruka's Sunflowers:
"Haruka" is the name of a little Japanese girl who died in the disaster. Haruka Kato lived with her elder sister and the parents. She was the only victim of the family. In summer, 6 months after the earthquake, something strange happened in the now vacant lot where Kato's house used to be. Lost of sunflowers bloomed in the very spot where Haruka died.

As I learned at a Kobe forum a couple of weeks ago, sunflowers were spontaneously planted all over the city on vacant lots where homes once stood. The sunflower appeared on billboards, flags, buses, at came to represent the recovery and rebuilding effort.


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