Todays post will take you back in time to the 1840's, to the French Quarter and the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana. I will share a fable I wrote, about a legendary love story during a time of decadence in New Orleans history. While weaving in pictures I photographed in our row-home and hopefully leave you with a deeper appreciation of time worn patinas occurring during their legacy and my fable to contemplate.
Since 2012 there have been countless emails and late night phone conversations with Doré Callaway from Burlap Luxe. Over time we have nurtured a close friendship and I'm fortunate to collect Doré's French inspired art. My latest purchases were of cemetery art and inspired me to write my fable. A fable I started working on during my blogging break and I just completed in the wee hours of this morning. The couple in my story will remain in my heart, writing does that, you create fictional people that linger in your heart. So here goes...
It truly doesn't matter how many years you dwell on Planet Earth, in the end, all that really matters is the living and love you share in your dash that will become your lasting legacy. "The dash" is the infinite dash that divides the year you were born and the year you die on your tombstone or mausoleum plaque. For in the end your life is measured by the love you graced those you leave behind as you will continue to live on in their memories and hearts.
For eternity, laid to rest, side by side in 1853 in a mausoleum of art and symbolism, Trent and Josephine Bernard 1823-1853. Shaded by groves of lush greenery in the Garden district. Lafayette cemetery No. 1, one of New Orleans cemeteries know as the "Cities of the Dead". Built with beautiful architectural 19th century tombs, mausoleums and statuary. Above ground, because New Orleans was built on a swamp and has seen many floods.
Trent and Josephine met when they we both 20 years old in old Antebellum New Orleans. Invited party guests on a star filled evening to a local societies daughter's debutant ball. Serendipity brought our couple together in the month of September 1843. When the cities population was 102,000 and New Orleans grew into the third largest city in the US. During a time of corsets and lace, white linen dresses and seersucker suits. When woman held Parasols and wore wide brimmed straw hats to shade their skin from afternoons brilliant sun-rays, wearing linen that felt cool and helped wick the humidity away.
A time of curtsies and bows, etiquette and proper attire ... the learned southern code all women knew. Formalities and evening gown parties held in grandeur that flowed into the wee hours meeting in decadence and indulgence that tied years together in merriment.
Their first date was at Arnaud's restaurant and over Creole fare they fell passionately in love. Josephine in her summer hat and pearls wearing a white linen dress she designed and sewed herself. Josephine was head strong, full of aspirations, driven and ambitious to become a famous gown designer.
They agreed to meet outside of Arnaud's restaurant as they hadn't seen each other yet in the daylight. Trent handed Josephine a boutique of cream roses with a smile so bright it could of illuminated the sun. Her light brown eyes sparkled with delight and Trent was hopelessly lost in their luminous glimmer with flecks of honey gold. That evening over dinner their passions peaked as their love bloomed in promise and innocence, purity and secrecy just as those cream Vendela roses represented.
Trent was in management, employed with the Mississippi Valley trade commission at the local sawmill. Work depended on the ability of the railroad to ship lumber up north and he handled the negotiations. Debonair and handsome he was born with an adventurous spirit, traits Josephine admired.
They were married in early December, in Vieux Carré (the French Quarter). Quickly learning and embracing the rituals of Antebellum high society. Josephine understood the importance of traditions and designed her elegant wedding dress as her fashion debut. Instantly acceptance and orders of satin and lace, taffeta and silk for gowns became Josephine's promise of successful tomorrow's.
Josephine and Trent soon purchased a beautiful ornate French style mansion on Prytania Street. Shaded by mature flowering Pink Magnolia trees. Cultivating a pristine rose garden full of Southern charm, Josephine grew her beloved Vendela roses. Daily she would design gowns looking out over the rose garden as the morning sunlight dried petals moist from evenings dew.
Their love was immense and their devotion to one another had become legendary in Antebellium high society. Together, life was well lived with a boundless love, but sadly they were unable to bear a child. They became emotionally obsessed with conceiving and living in a time when Voodoo magic was practiced in New Orleans, desperate, they agreed to have an authentic ritual spell preformed. But that was of no avail... Perhaps it was destiny intervening.
And even though their house didn't echo with the sounds of laughter and play from youngsters running underfoot, it didn't mean they didn't surround themselves with children and their activities. Josephine filled her days volunteering her talent during school plays and pageants making costumes. Trent supplied lumber for the plays from the sawmill which he now ran and often helped with building set designs.
When the first Mayor A.D. Crossman helped to emancipate the slaves, Trent took to philanthropic work setting up an endowment with Josephine organizing a charitable foundation. Their generosity spread goodwill as their commitments conveyed tolerance and deep humanity.
In their decade together, not one day was ever spent apart. Late June hearing the faint trickle of a fountain nearby Josephine smelled tar outside. The city was burning tar to supposably purify the air from illness afflicting many. To help rid their house of the smell Josephine cut all her beloved roses and placed them in vases throughout the house. Days later they both developed headaches that they thought was caused by the burning tar, but it was not. Sadly, high fever followed and they were confined to bed and on July 2nd,1853 they died in each other's arms...
When precious moments are emotionally expressed through sharing or prayers, our hearts are lifted in jubilance and the energy released spends eternity resonating love's energy in universal grace.
And even now, through weary eyes from everyday fatigue, that ravishes ones most precious time, standing in the presence of ruins and aged patina through countless seasons of decay, in an instance my appreciation for life was renewed.
In 1853, 7,840 people died in Louisiana from the Yellow Fever epidemic caused by a mosquito borne viral disease. I wrote my fable in memory of the dead in Lafayette cemetery No. 1. A non-segregated, non denominational cemetery built in 1833.
Tours of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 are one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Orleans. Restorations are occurring to bring back the tombs in ruins and are funded by guided tours. There's a graceful essence and beautiful peacefulness felt in Lafayette cemetery No. 1. Many movies have been filmed there, including Double Jeopardy and Interview with the Vampire. My fable was inspired by the soulful cemetery art created by the very talented Doré Callaway and New Orleans "cities of the dead".
PS I post daily on Instagram and on my sidebar there is a link to click to visit me there. I love reading your comments and please tell me what you thought about this post.
Beautiful Vera. Your writing swept me into that time period and the love story that unfolded with these two united souls. Dore's pieces are so beautiful. I love her work too. She has such beautiful vision expressed in her art. Thanks for sharing the beautiful treasures and your beautiful writing. Enjoyed your post today.ReplyDelete
Bonjour, Vera! Objects with such texture always evoke ideas and images that create great storytelling. I think storytelling is in all of us, but only a few master this art through much practice. You certainly are having fun weaving thoughts from past knowledge with new ideas from artistic inspirations! Doré's work is masterfully done to bring us all back to a child-like place, but certainly with very sophisticated abilities and possibilities!ReplyDelete
You home must be such a comfortable place to sit and ponder, write and create. That's what it's like for us here in our home, surrounded by the things we love, inspiring us to make more beauty.
It's fun to see you on Instagram! Enjoy your day dearest Vera!
You are so talented in every way! Love your fable and the photos are beautiful. I love the church, the little cross...well, all of it! Yes, our "dash" is all the time we're given and what we do with it.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing!
I love this post! I was captured by your first line until the end of a precious love story. I love that they died together and one didn't have to mourn the other. Beautifully written with wonderful pictures of such creative art.ReplyDelete
This is such uninteresting post, Vera, as always. What an incredible love story! Your photos accompany your words perfectly. More is a great talent!ReplyDelete
Have a wonderful weekend. By the way, I'm enjoying your Instagram posts!
O, my,.....don't we all cherish a good love story. This one did not disappoint...very good post and I know you had such fun putting it all together.ReplyDelete
Have a blessed and fun weekend...xoxo
OH my honey child, this story was a perfect fable, time tabled and fitting to the art inspired, and what a fitting place of rest for Trent and his dear Josephine. Perhaps the Angel standing watching over is she herself.ReplyDelete
How clearly I see that life begins and never ends, a story told so profoundly weaving in all that inspired you from art and what's within you.
Thank you for adding beauty to my days ahead.
I am blessed on so many levels with our inspiring conversation and i delight in how you so get me! And I so get you!
These pieces could not have found a better resting place.
Hi Vera, What a beautiful fable you have so well written. I was intrigued and captivated by each part. The art work is so very fitting and created so beautifully by Dore. Your talents have shown through to bring us another wonderful post.ReplyDelete
I so enjoyed this!! Have a wonderful week ahead.
Hugs and Blessings!!
This fable drew me in from beginning all the way to the end...not wanting it to end I might add. I am always enchanted with the way you weave together your creative writings and Dore's fabulous works of art. Beautiful love story, Vera!ReplyDelete
Beautifully written, Vera. You have a gift for storytelling.ReplyDelete
I have to say that with your storytelling and Dore's beautiful art, this has to be one of my favorite posts... Very touching.
Love and blessings,
What a great post, Vera! I really loved how you said that it didn't matter how many years you've lived. What matters is the love you've graced those around us. So well put! Wonderful tale you've woven, and Dore's art is amazing!ReplyDelete
Your ability to write, create and share with us your abundant talents is so appreciated and treasured.
Love your fable and the photos are beautiful and how exciting and rewarding to be inspired and loved by Dore.
What a lovely story to read this morning.ReplyDelete
I am re-watching Downton Abbey and have come to the part about the Spanish Flu. So many people died of it including my husband's maternal grandmother. Your story made me think about her story.
Thanks for the beauty you spread in our blogging world.
You really told us an interesting story, Vera. And I was intrigued until I read the last words. You know, Nel and Jess LOVE the French Quarter, and New Orleans is an absolute favorite place of theirs. I loved to hear about the era of ladies with their parasols and the curtsies and bows. I can just see Josephine's pink magnolia trees and beautiful rose garden. A story of love, and one that was written eloquently. The picture of the white roses is very pretty, and I just love your statue of Mary.ReplyDelete
Oh Vera, it took me some time to comment on this post. I am into reading Anne Rice again. Vampires of the other kind, NEW ORLEANS 200 years ago until now, cemetries, the French Quarter. And there, I am working on a barock shrine, now I see Dorés fantastical art adding - a part of the other world adding to yours. Your story then, as I wrote books... There is so much connection of our hearts, this is, what made me ... ah, PARALIZED me, how we can be so alike.ReplyDelete
And the your talent, Dorés talent, I try to breathe, SO touched, I want to run to you, around the corner, as we are so close... but then... so far away. Half a world away.
Vera, I hug you, and I am so happy to know you. There is you, thank God.
Your friend Méa
Vera, I enjoyed your story very much. My husband and I started our marriage life in New Orleans as he grew-up there and graduated from Tulane University. Our first home was on the corner of St. Charles Ave. and Upperline. I've spent lots of time shopping on Prytania as well as eating turtle soup at our favorite restaurant. Love the art you've shared, too. I'll share this post with my family. They will enjoy it!ReplyDelete
I love this story, Vera. It is intriguing, and captured my heart. I read faster as I neared the end, anxious to see where it was all heading. I am impressed how you wove everything together to fit actual events of the times.ReplyDelete
So wonderful the way the artwork fits the words so perfectly.
What an intriguing story to read on this rainy Canada Day. In your intro, I found your 'take' on the 'dash' especially interesting. You are absolutely right: life is about everything that transpires on both sides of that dash, isn't it? If one should be so blessed to have had a lot of love and laughter and health, on both sides of that hyphen, then they have certainly led a most wonderful life.
Wishing you a lovely weekend, full of inspiration and joy.
Bonjour, dear Vera!ReplyDelete
Thank you for coming over to meet Rose and leaving such kind words.
I went over to see your black and white photos on Instagram. How very sweet they are! Looking forward to your fairytale.
I was completely swept in with this fable Vera. In fact, if I hadn't read the first paragraph, I would have believed Josephine and Trent were an actual couple, and not a result of your vivid, creative imagination.ReplyDelete
I remember visiting that cemetery and having a peaceful but sad feeling while there. Old cemeteries are a favorite of mine, and I'm thinking you too?
Great fable and learned a bunch too!ReplyDelete
Wow you never cease to amaze! xo KReplyDelete
Such a poignant tale. New Orleans is rich in history and you have evoked a special 'moment' in time. We'll all be wanting more!ReplyDelete
Vera - I am blown away at the depth of your tale. Your writing and Dore's art are pure magic. What a treasure you have to be able to put your thoughts on paper to share with us. Thank you deeply. JoanMarieReplyDelete
Dearest poet and friend, BONJOUR!ReplyDelete
After a super fun Saturday afternoon, I am finally at my computer. THANK YOU so much for coming to read my blog and for leaving a beautiful comment! We both love the living matters of the soul, don't we! I have been enjoying your IG photos so much; while I view photos, I am usually trying to MULTI-TASK (which really, doesn't exist) so I find it hard to leave comments on IG, but know that your photography of the Mouse Adventures leaves me smiling and happy.
I wish I could see your small but beautiful garden! I love "urban" gardens and they hold such a special place for me. They are the off shoots of nature's landscape that shows that people make an effort to transport Eden to the hustle and bustle of the city. People WANT Mother Nature close by. Doesn't that say a lot about what we truly value deep down?
"Nurture" that garden inside of you even more, for in doing so, you are caring for those around you. Thank you for YOUR MAGIC mon amie!
....just coming by to make sure you go to the store today, gather up your favorite things and have that milk shake today...xoxoReplyDelete
i think i'm going to make a white cake with real fudge icing, just like my mama made me almost all my life.
Vera, thank you for the birthday wishes for Nel. She had a very nice day and bought herself a new car the following day. I can't believe I have a 35 year old, oh my! :)ReplyDelete
Well said! Thanks for the inspiration♥ReplyDelete
Hi Vera, during the night I woke to remember you saying Friday was coming a new story. I'm so glad I didn't miss it and so enjoyed reading this one once again. I'll check back later. Have a beautiful weekend sweet friend!!ReplyDelete
You have quite the eclectic blog here. It soothes the soul. I am participating in Vanessa Valencia's Mad Tea Party, and saw your blog posted on one commentators comments.ReplyDelete
You are welcome to come by! Anita Rivera is one of my amazing friends too!
I had just recently read about the Art Festival the city of Philadelphia hosts and I was amazed at the turn-out of vendors and the multitude of people who attend. Absolutely incredible!
Teresa in California