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“Springtime and Sunshine”

The first time I ever heard the phrase “February blahs,” I was still living in New Orleans, and I thought: “What? February is Carnival! February is Valentine’s Day! February is awesome!” Then I moved to Missouri.

After a couple of Missouri winters, March became my favorite month simply by virtue of not being February. And even though I’m now back to a climate where I have the luxury of not really caring whether the groundhog sees his shadow, I still have a particular fondness for the merry month of March.
March is often a quiet month in New Orleans, a chance to catch our collective breath between the end of Carnival and the beginning of Jazz Fest. Besides the occasional storm, the weather is perfect, and hurricane season seems a long way off. Now that the frenzy of parades and parties is over, it’s a great time to enjoy some moments in the sun.

The Secret Gardens Tour, back for the first time since Katrina, is a wonderful way to get your fill of sunshine along with a dose of inspiration for your own gardening endeavors. The tour is March 20 and 21, but we’re offering a sneak peek behind the garden gates.

In the same spirit, we’re hoping to whet your appetite for the Junior League of New Orleans Kitchen Tour, scheduled for April 4. These 10 kitchens in the Audubon and Faubourg St. John neighborhoods are top-of-the-line culinary specimens that remind us that the kitchen is the heart of any home.

This is no less true in the cozy kitchen of Mary Cooper’s Bywater home, even though it doesn’t feature the sleek Wolf ranges and custom-designed hoods of the Kitchen Tour kitchens. Cooper cooks on a Magic Chef stove, circa 1930, and that’s just the barest hint of Cooper’s determination to keep her Creole town house as historically accurate as possible. She decorated with furniture appropriate to the age, selected a traditional French Creole color scheme and even makes do without central air conditioning! The result is a home full of history and character that, as Cooper says, pays homage to the past.

On the other end of the spectrum is Mike and Marcy Gertler’s thoroughly modern ninth-floor condo overlooking Lake Pontchartrain. Although the space itself doesn’t have the historical significance of Cooper’s home, the Gertlers have filled their condo with a tasteful blend of well-chosen antiques and gorgeous old wood. And because it would be a waste to live in New Orleans  without a way to enjoy the outdoors, the Gertlers have a 20-by-20-foot terrace that is perfect for entertaining and relaxing.

One of the few things I thought I’d miss about Missouri’s climate was the absolute exhilaration of spring, the triumph of having made it through ice storms and gray skies and bare trees to the other side. But the truth is that we know that exhilaration here in New Orleans, too, in a much more metaphorical sense. Natives of the city might not be able to comprehend the notion of “February blahs,” but one thing that we all understand these days is rebirth.

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