When we purchased our first house as an engaged couple in 2013, there were a few things on our checklist for what we wanted in a home. Did the neighborhood flood during Katrina? Did it have a separate space for a laundry machine? Did it have a fireplace? Was it close to our families?
Proximity to our families was a huge deal for me, but at no point did proximity to a levee ever cross my mind as something special. But the house we bought is an easy five-minute walk to the levee in Kenner (near the Treasure Chest casino), just a couple of blocks away. My husband soon began biking to work from Kenner to his office on Causeway, alternately praising the bike path on the levee and complaining about having to ride into the wind one way or the other. Although we occasionally walked down to it on nice days before having kids, I really didn’t think much of it.
And then… we had kids.
Now, my kids definitely prefer the playground (because who doesn’t love slides?), but once we make it past there to the actual levee, I love seeing their imaginations run free.
A Great Big “Mountain”
My oldest son refers to the levee as “the great big mountain by our house.” To him, it’s basically the Monkey Hill of Kenner– his little mind can’t imagine anything taller. Both my sons love to climb on the breaker rocks and play pirates or run wild in the big expanses of open field. Sometimes we’ll bring a soccer ball to kick around or cardboard to sit on and slide down the levee. (We’re still mastering the art of rolling down the levee…)
My personal favorite is going to the levee right before a hurricane or big storm. I have fond memories of doing this with my own family when I was a kid and love sharing these memories with my own children. We watch the waves whitecapping and splashing up against the breaker rocks while the intense winds nearly knock my kids to the ground. My husband acts as their anchor, and there’s just something special about them feeling safe with their parents in the face of a storm.
On a nice day, it’s the perfect spot to be. On a hot day, the breeze blowing in off the lake helps cool down our sweaty kids. In the evenings, we’re often treated to spectacular, colorful sunsets, with the sun dipping low like it’s sinking into the lake. On special occasions, we can see fireworks at the Treasure Chest casino from our backyard, or we can walk down to get a prime spot at the top of the levee. Even when the world shut down and the playground was closed and roped off during the COVID lockdown, we could still wind our way through the neighborhood and go up and down the levee as we pleased. It made our shrinking world feel a little bit bigger.
Should we ever move away from or out of walking distance to the levee, I know we would miss it tremendously and would probably drive out to visit and play. But for now, we’ll cherish our levee walks and treasure the time we spend climbing, running, and playing, wild and free.