I left my dear friend S.’s house early to avoid total drenching on my bicycle and was racing home up Camp Street when I had to turn back to look more closely at this crepe myrtle tree drenched in leaves, flowers and Mardi Gras beads. When I first got to town I noticed beads hanging on the streetcar wires along St. Charles and an occasional bead in a tree, but figured this was something staged for tourists. I mean, really. Beads? New Orleans Mardi Gras? It’s all too, I don’t know, staged. Then I went through my first Mardi Gras. Beads really are everywhere (including the trunk of my car, where they’ve been since February…). I was instantly enamored with the shiny things, “presents falling from the sky,” as C. called them. And they land everywhere during those two weeks–they are in every rain gutter, every lawn, every tree, every properly celebratory wrought iron gate. And then there are trees like this one, decorated by hand, festive year round. They look different in the summer, though, with not only beads, but also leaves and beautiful purple-pink flowers. Very showy, just like this place.