Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wall photos

It's one of Europe's biggest walled parks. More than 13 kilometers of wall encircle about 1700 acres of wood and meadow, not to mention the golf course, the Royal palaces, and the Grand Prix circuit. 
Walled, with gatekeepers in gatekeeper's cottages, who lock up at 8.30 at night. Promptly, and with no mercy.

Walls like trees; dappled, layered, and barked.
Wet walls around the motor circuit, soft and green, hosting races of their own.
Some of the beasts are a little more permanent.
All those miles of plain white plaster, it's hard to resist the temptation to make a statement. 
Something private, from the heart,
or a public invitation to spread the loving...
But there are two sides to every wall. graffiti on the inside has a different character.
Even the Ultras have to contend with ivy and saplings. It's pretty clear who's winning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drawing the Heat

 Back to the park, paper, brushes, pencils, and that damn little water pot, that has a passion for falling on marble floors and making an obscene amount of noise, without even having the decency either to smash into a million pieces, which would justify the explosion of sound, or - I don't know - use its superpower to make the earth open up and swallow me?
But out here, it's demure and silent. You can just make it out, to the right of the paper. Bastard.
The park is gently steaming. Let's not go there about the bike today, but that saddle owes me dinner and a movie. I have come back to my place, looking towards Mirabellino. It's not got the structure and the interest of Mirabellino, the other summer palace that faces it across the great field of the Hippodrome. But Mirabello is busy with people and cars, and offers no shade, no perch for passers by. This is a photo op, not a painting place.

Monday, June 20, 2011

French Maze

I bet you've never been to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris.
Why would you. It's just South of the Seine, like the Eiffel Tower, and the two green spaces are like opposite bookends, framing the historic city center. But while the Tower is unique, tall, sexy, and instantly recognizable, the Jardin des Plantes is not. It's big, sure, and not unfrequented - by students, escaping from the hustle of the Quartier Latin, and by families, letting steam off in the gravel walks and in the unremarkable and overpriced zoo - but it's one of those places that doesn't scream Paris. It could be anywhere.
The people walking here are locals. Not a tour bus or a phrase book in sight, for a kilometre or more. grandparents pushing strollers and holding small hands, triptychs of women, showing the three ages of one face. Dads with grubby nails taking a professional interest in a herbaceous border.
There isn't a lot of what you might call real gloire to the Histoire of the botanical garden, and a small museum spreads a paltry range of exhibits through three or four showrooms. There's a painted giraffe that's rather fetching, and one of those big models in a glaring glass case. You pay to go in, really just so's you can use their clean and spacious loo, which in Paris is always a big deal.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Jet lagged.
I can't seem to beat it. It is four am and I am awake as if it were noon. That makes no sense, it should be ten pm for my brain, but it isn't. A few more days, I think to myself, stalking around the attic rooms. Few more days before I finally click into European mode. For now, everything is fine at four, and I am ready to die by lunch time. This is for the birds, this half-life.
On the upside, there is this.

Half an hour from the Paris, and it's like being immersed in England. The birds own the streets at this time of morning, between the trucks and the trains. They sit on the fat power lines and pour noise into the cool blue air. Among others, I hear blackbirds. I had missed their sound. Not that there's anything wrong with Cardinals and warblers, but this is different, older, like a remembered heartsong.
 It's beautiful.