The Cats of Jackson Square
By day this New Orleans square is for pedestrians, but by night it is a kingdom of kittens.
In his story, The Garden of Stubborn Cats, Italo Calvino describes a scene that you can see acted out each night in New Orleans’ Jackson Square Park:
“…Resting on the capitals, sprawled over the dry leaves of the flower beds, climbed on the trunks of the trees and on the gutters, halted on the four paws and with the tail in a question mark…there were striped cats, black cats, white cats, spotted cats, tabbies, angoras, persians, family cats and stray cats, perfumed cats and stinky cats. Marcovaldo understood that he finally reached the heart of the kingdom of cats, their secret island.”
Late each night, when blurry eyed fortune tellers guard the heart of America’s most mysterious city, the cats of the Big Easy rendez-vous in Jackson Square. Though the Square remains open through the night, the Place d’Armes within is locked at sunset, guarded by high wrought iron fences. Peering through the black iron web, you’ll see that not all of New Orleans’ inhabitants respect these hours. The city’s cats stroll about under the moonshadows cast by Andrew Jackson, answering to no one and contemptuously indifferent to the humans peering at them curiously through the gate. By day, the city may be shared peaceably between man and tabby, but by night, this is the exclusive prowl of the feline set. Every time you blink, another appears. Where do they come from? What are they plotting?
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