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We:30 Share & Tell: Natalie Shares about New Orleans Seasons
Every Wednesday at 3:30 we gather to celebrate an employee who exemplifies our core values to inspire, share, evolve, exceed and be 100% jerk-free. In our Share & Tell edition, we invite the employee to share their unique story, or simply something that inspires them. This week Natalie, our Controller, shares about the seasons in New Orleans!
I am a California girl, born and raised – five hours north of San Francisco and just outside of Eureka to be exact, in a small town called Kneeland. I moved toSan Diego in 2003 for college and made it my home for 10 years. My husband is in the Marine Corps, so when he was offered a move to New Orleans, LA, in 2013, we saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity for what has turned out to be an amazing adventure in food, culture and history.
While San Diego pretty much has one season – 70 degrees and sunny – I quickly found out that the seasons in New Orleans are uniquely different:
Winter: Winter in New Orleans means Carnival Season. Carnival Season officially kicked off down here on January 6 and will end on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. When you think Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you probably think of an R-rated haze of colorful beads and neon-green Hand Grenades (fair warning – take these babies one at a time!), but you won’t find many locals on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Head down St. Charles and you’ll find an entirely different Mardi Gras experience. Parade ladders (a seat perched on top of a ladder) line the streets, enabling kiddos to get a prime view of the parades, and also the advantage of height to catch everything from Mardi Gras beads to glittered plungers (yes, a toilet bowl plunger)! Parking lots are rented out and are packed with tents, picnic tables and large pots of jambalaya and gumbo, serving as re-charging stations before returning to the front lines of the parade. The “front lines” reference is not coincidental – imagine getting slapped across the face with an oversized strand of beads that was hurled from just 20 feet away … you’ll be feeling it for several days to come! But I promise it is all worth it for the fun!
Spring: Crawfish season!! Crawfish season is actually just beginning to pick up right now, as the temperatures start to warm up. Just this past weekend, we bought four crawfish traps, set them out in a local canal and are crossing our fingers for a good season. So far, we have not caught any, but the water is still a little cold. Crawfish boils are an annual tradition in the south. They are more of a social experience than anything – it’s a chance to gather all your friends and family, hang out, have a few beers and share in some incredible food. Ricky’s 9-year-old daughter, Mahkenze, is the crawfish queen! Ask her what she wants to eat and 95 percent of the time, you’ll hear, “crawfish.”
Summer: In the summer, you can expect 90-100 degree days, which isn’t too bad, until you get smacked with the 90-100 percent humidity! I tried to acclimate myself by taking walks mid-day but quickly gave up on that ridiculous idea, as I learned people who grew up here aren’t even used to the heat – they simply go from the air-conditioned house, to the air-conditioned car, to the air-conditioned office. So to beat the heat, your summer diet consists of SNO BALLS. You can find these flavored shaved-ice treats at roadside Sno Ball shacks (yes, literally a little wooden shack on the side of the road … they are seasonal and begin to pop up in the springtime). The flavor options are endless and you can get it “stuffed” (ice cream in the middle). It’s quite dangerous having a Sno Ball stand just down the street. My favorite: stuffed banana.
Fall: The best time to go grocery shopping is on a Saints game day. No joke – you would think the city had been deserted. It’s actually been confirmed that the crime rate drops during a Saints game. Football is a serious event down here. Your “Sunday best” attire consists of either Saints gold and black or LSU purple and gold. I personally do not own any Saints or LSU gear (yet!), but I have started to follow the Saints, if for no better reason than to keep up with the Jones’.