Adele Elliott: Lent

February 20, 2010 9:03:00 PM

Adele Elliott - adeleelliott@bellsouth.net

 

I am packing up my Mardi Gras d├ęcor, storing ornaments and masks and beads in a well-marked box until next year. It is with great reluctance that I put these things out of sight. Chris and I never get tired of the fleur de lis, or that weird color combination of purple, green and gold. 

 

But, seasons change, and we must accept the inevitable. My friend, Joanie Thompson, is living this lesson. After 32 years in Columbus, she is moving to east Texas. That will be quite a culture shock, to be sure. I was so delighted that, in her downsizing, she bequeathed to us two wonderful Emeril Lagasse cookbooks. They are filled not only with the celebrity chef''s delicious etouffees, gumbos and pralines, but also with photos of people and celebrations around Louisiana. Strange, how even the image of an ugly crawfish can elicit a pang of longing. 

 

Columbus and New Orleans have many similarities. Both are beautiful, with a deep respect for history and tradition. Both are rich with talent; musical, literary, visual. Both cities are very difficult to leave. Bon voyage, Joanie. Blessings and best of luck in your new life! 

 

Mother Nature''s creatures must think it''s time for a change. Trees are filled with flocks of robins, plumping their red chests. The cardinals, too, are flitting around our backyards, courting, no doubt. Their scarlet plumage appears more brilliant this year. Or does it just seem so, contrasted against the dried and colorless landscape of this too-long winter? 

 

The 40 days and 40 nights of Lent are the time to reflect and do a bit of mental regrouping. Many people fast, or give up something dear. Chocolate is a leading choice for sacrifice, or alcohol -- almost anything that makes abstinence a very thorny challenge is acceptable. 

 

I''m looking forward to a time of rest. This year, the Christmas and New Year''s holidays melted into an early Mardi Gras season. There were many distractions to keep us from the tedious business of life. "Life," however, is relentless. Facing reality will be part of my Lenten penance. 

 

This is a good time to rethink our goals. Surely, they should change at different ages, different eras, of life. At certain points, old ambitions become obsolete. Just as our body produces an entire new set of cells every seven years, so, perhaps, should our aspirations evolve. Hardly anyone''s desires are the same from decade to decade. 

 

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." This Goethe quotation is one of my favorites. The quiet time of Lent may be perfect for creating the person we really want to be. 

 

It''s been a brutal winter for most of us. In spite of the return of cardinals and robins, it seems that spring is very distant indeed. I plan to open my newly acquired Emeril Lagasse cookbooks and whip up some spicy Louisiana dishes. That should generate some heat. I plan, also, to create a recipe for a new me, or maybe just for my next incarnation in this world.

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.