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Silver Threads: Grounded at Jazz Fest

bettyepic3On Sunday morning I was walking around on our big back porch, looking at the dark clouds over the neighborhood and wondering whether the folks at Jazz Fest that day were going to get any rain.

I’ve had some wet experiences in the Fair Grounds infield. Not too many years after moving from Congo Square, Jazz Fest was drenched in an act of weather the likes of which hasn’t been seen there since. That was before the grounds were adequately leveled, and the fest workers had to bring in straw to fill the ponds left throughout the grounds and make it possible for folks to walk around without sinking in muck up to their shins.

It was an imperfect solution, though; I remember sitting on high ground under a big tree and watching fest-goers battle through the mud. A friend of mine came by pushing her baby in a stroller, and we had to lift him and his mother out of the sticky stuff.

Another year, another friend and I were in the bleachers they used to provide at one of the small stages, and rain came down so hard it filled a small trench in front of us. Kids quickly made a mud slide out of it, and we just sat there, getting soaked and happily watching the fun.

Now if you’re thinking that this column is going to be about rain at Jazz Fest — and a drizzle and then a downpour did begin about half an hour after I came in from the porch — you missed the clue in the third paragraph: “I remember sitting on the ground under a big tree.”

It’s funny how old folks like me remember such things with such longing. My days of sitting on the ground are over, unless I want to go through some considerable pain and also subject onlookers to the sight of my fanny up in the air for several minutes while I laboriously find a way to settle down. Had I been to yoga classes all these years, I would at least be able to sit comfortably in the lotus position once on the ground. But I can’t — I’m the biggest advertisement I know of for failure to stay in shape.

And getting down on the ground isn’t the hardest thing; it’s getting up that’s the main problem, not that there wouldn’t be plenty of helping hands at a place like Jazz Fest these days. But all those hands belong to hordes of people, so there wouldn’t be much room to sit down in the first place, unless you came early and got a spot in front of one of the really big stages where the stars perform.

The other night I inadvertently sat on the ground just as quickly as I’ve ever done, but it was because one of my grandsons left behind a little wooden platform on wheels that he had been using to push around some of his cooking pots during our annual Good Friday family crawfish boil.

I couldn’t see it in the dark in the driveway, so I plopped over, moderately injuring my ankles and fortunately landing on my hands. I rolled over when I could, and — voila! — I was sitting on the ground, however accidental it had been.

I just meditated there for a minute or two, and then rose in a leisurely fashion, not too gracefully, but effectively. I haven’t yet reached the point where “I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up.”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times-Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at



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