Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday and, aside from being a day on which to eat pancakes (although when ISN'T a day to eat pancakes?), it was also Mardi Gras (which is French for "Fat Tuesday") in New Orleans. So, for no particular reason, Melbourne celebrated, too. I let Madeleine stay out half an hour past her bedtime (she was all, "No paparazzi! Not after bedtime!") so that we could stroll up to the shady verge beside the historic Melbourne General Cemetery in the early evening to partake in a very relaxed, chilled-out Fat Tuesday celebration, hosted by Gumbo Kitchen.
Here were no gaudy parade floats or breast-flashing spring-breakers. Here, instead, were families enjoying picnics on the grass. Children brandishing ropes of coloured beads. Gumbo, po' boys and fresh lemonade.
And a second line marching band that led everyone, Pied Piper-like, in a joyful, dancing, laughing, all-welcome parade past the cemetery and down toward Lygon Street.
Later, bands played on a little stage on the grass while the grills sizzled and everyone relaxed back onto their picnic rugs and the sun set behind the sleepy cemetery, turning dusk into a happy, full-bellied night.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!