Saturday, May 26, 2012

In the Garden . . . in Paris . . .

It's finally warmed up in Paris, and everyone's flocking to the gardens.
This photo was taken earlier in the week when I could still tolerate tights; since then, the heat coaxed me into baring my pale legs . . . and the scarf and sweater have been consigned to my valise as well . . .

I always feel a bit as though we've been let in on a secret when we happen upon the spring garden preparations here. The plantings at the Tuilerie Gardens are on such a grand scale, and whatever gets popped into these newly-refreshed holes will transform the space -- roses? trees? shrubs?
Beautiful as the Jardins Tuileries are (we were heading through them en route to l"Orangerie for an exposition; sadly, so were hundreds of others), I admit to preferring Les Jardins du Luxembourg -- they always seem livelier to me, and to offer more surprises in their various corners.
We like to head up there with a book or the paper and read for an hour or so in the sunshine, but imagine if we were chess players. . . we could join this party.  . . The camera just missed Mr. Orange Shirt's exultant laugh, presumably over a move that dismayed his opponent.
I was impressed by these two "women of my certain age" who had staked a small female claim in what was mainly a men's world .
After watching them for a while, I headed back to where my own man was sitting with his sketchbook -- he picked up this straw hat in San Sebastian because his face was getting burned. He's always resisted hats (he'll wear a winter toque or a brimmed cap for fishing, hiking, etc., but has never worn a more shaped one), feeling self-conscious about how he looks in them. Somehow he's decided just to own this one, and I like the result . . .
Nearby, more spring planting, this time of long beds being filled with annuals. We've chanced upon this activity before in Jardins Lux. and I'm always impressed and entertained by the system they use -- a ladder, covered with a long plank, wheels the gardeners to where the annuals need to be planted, never any need to step on and compress any soil.


Back in my heavy green chair, its shape so well attuned to my desire to sit in the sunshine and escape the busy-ness of the city that surrounds this space, I jotted down my impressions in my little Moleskine travel journal:
Now we're sitting in Lux. Gardens sketching, painting -- so pleasant. Around us people read, visit, listen to iPods. Nearby they play tennis, chess. Walking home from work, some businessmen look burdened, some purposeful, some begin to relax. Well-dressed Nanas steer their grandchildren home -- the little ones run ahead or ride their vélos or push their scooters. Unlikely runners exercise alongside more obvious athletes. Meticulously dressed grand dames remove their jackets, their shoes even, to stretch their legs into the sunshine, pulling two chairs together for maximum stretching comfort. From every direction, children's happy screams of play pierce the steady murmur of this concentrated collection of voices, in the background the subdued but insistent throbbing of Paris traffic.

Then I tuck the little book back in my bag and join my husband again in some sketching, even painting en plein air, thanks to the teeny paintbox and palette I've secreted in my capacious bag -- even have a wee jar of water in there. Don't worry, we're tucked discreetly in a corner where no one's likely to peer over our shoulders to scrutinize our amateur efforts or imagine we have any pretensions about what we're doing other than recording our experience in a kinetically visual, tactile manner. This view of the Panthéon over the park's trees, for example, will forever lift me back into that afternoon's respite.

19 comments:

  1. Pater has a painterly eye and the hat looks great. He does "own" it!

    It's interesting to me that people play chess in the gardens, it's almost like they have staked a claim on that public space. With all the plants and flowers I am not sure that I could concentrate on chess.

    Is your apartment far away from these gardens?

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    1. There's a corner right downtown Vanc'r where there are always a few chess games being played in public space, and any number of parks that host checker and chess games, but never quite such a crowd of so many ages.
      Our apartment is perhaps a ten-minute walk from the gardens. Lucky, eh?!

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  2. What a wonderful life you lead! Sketching in the Paris sunshine, in gardens, with your lovely husband. Having the ability to communicate with all the people there. Eating fantastic food and drinking wonderful wine. I hope that, in a few years, I have the ability to take those sorts of long European visits. You're doing a great job of living well!

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    1. I know you recognize that the representation here is a very filtered one, with much of the crankiness happening offstage. But you're right, we are really leading a wonderful life and it's (for me) important to acknowledge and celebrate that. Thanks!

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  3. Dear Mater, yours is the first blog I ever commented on and the one I have read consistently for, well, it must be 5 years now. As ever, I get great inspiration from you, since you are a few years older than me and quite a bit further along as regards family milestones. Hubby and I talk often about what we will do after retirement and the kids are out of the house - and you have given us some great ideas! This new hobby of sketching is just one such idea - I don't know if I'd be any good, but it's something to think about.
    I love your view of the Pantheon, as we stayed quite near there on our last visit to Paris. Look forward to more Paris posts! P.

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    1. Thanks very much, Patricia. I assure you that these can be very good years indeed, although the distant view of the ultimate sunset can occasionally be disconcerting.
      btw, I very much appreciate longtime, loyal, and perspicacious commenters such as yourself travelling this blog journey with me through the years.

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  4. Such a beautiful post.

    The gardens of Paris are so important to the city. Even the materials on the paths, is it decomposed granite? So polite but not modern urban.

    And I love both Pater's hat and your painting. Time well spent.

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    1. I'm not sure, Lisa, and a quick google didn't help me find out the composition of that gravel. It's not a colour I associate with granite (it's biscuit-golden) -- characteristic of French parks and gardens, to me, it's always small chip, quite sharp-edged. . . perhaps another reader will answer our query.

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  5. So wonderful, thanks for sharing these pictures and your impressions. (You look great in the brogues, BTW!) "The Lux" is still my favorite garden in Paris and I'm sorry we didn't make it there this trip. It really does have more the feel of a neighborhood park (a really, really NICE one) than does Tuileries, though I think the nature of the latter tends to be people passing through rather than a destination on its own.

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    1. Yes, exactly. You do see people obviously using the Lux as a passage, but because that happens under a treed canopy it doesn't seem as blatant or as exposed, keeping the feel of the Lux more intimate.

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  6. Those ladders are an ingenious idea. And tell the mister his hat is quite dashing. You have a distinctive voice in your journaling and the illustration is just wonderful.

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    1. Thanks, Terri. And yes, don't those moving ladders look clever?

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  7. Lovely post! I'm glad the weather is warm enough now for relaxing in gardens. You look so adorable. Martin has a hat very similar to Paul's that he bought at Le Bon Marché. Tres Chic. Beautiful painting. Keep those coming.

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    1. Thanks! You must still be enjoying your many memories of the city, as well as of London.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your experience. It looks like a lovely trip.

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    1. Thanks Debbie -- I see so many accessories you'd love in all the Paris windows.

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  9. that is indeed a very fun experience. I really hope I can visit Paris as well.

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  10. Thank you for taking us there, with all the tender green, and your sketches! Two travelling artists. (Will we ever get to peer over Pater's shoulder?)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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