How does Paris make me feel? It makes me feel like dancing. I come back here, year after year, and each time I become a child again with a whole world to discover. Everything seems new and exciting. Of course, many things don't change but those that do charge each visit with the same excitement. On first visits I marveled at the buildings and parks and monuments and museums. They continue to be interesting but in the way old friends are interesting. You kind of snuggle up to them, catching up on the news is fast, and then you just relax, you know them well and can be quiet in their presence. Later on it was the life in the city. People going about their business as if they didn't realize they were in a kind of Paradise. A waiter at La Tavernne on blvd St Germain became on old friend. Each visit we exchanged pictures of grandchildren and swapped fishing stories. I was shocked to learn that, to him Paris was just a noisy busy place to work. I didn't really believe him until he retired and I never saw him again. Each year is different and better than the last. It was warmer this year as we sat in the Luxemburg Gardens. The adults all looked relaxed, with the possible exception of the few fathers who were having more fun with the rental boats than they should have. I think there may a good business renting children and boats to grown ups so the grown ups can play. Me, I feel like this boy, I want to jump up, wave my arms, and skip around the pond. My wife assures it is not a good idea so I grab this image and sit back in my Luxemburg lounger.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Why do the rooftops of Paris go straight to my heart? What do you think it is? Do they touch you the same way? As I sit here writing, I am looking across my desk at a print of Caillebotte's Rooftops in the Snow. I look at it often when I'm not in Paris. It makes me long to be there and I often wonder why that is so. Perhaps it is the way it stirs my imagination. These romantic rooftops are, after all, garrets. Windows and chimney's of small, cold cramped spaces with six or even seven flights of stairs to climb. Behind those windows live, in my imagination, all the characters from all the Paris stories I've ever read. The starving the artists, poets, and students – characters in a play that I now can only watch – reminding me of the hopes of youth. Love gained and love lost. And yet it is more than that. The structures themselves, each independent, rough and oddly shaped fit together in a pattern that radiates life. Each rooftop, built at a different time, of different materials, fits in with its neighbors in a cozy sort of way. Here and there are rooftop gardens, in my imagination lovingly tended by an older person, quiet and settled into a life with time for such things. Now there's a play with a part for me! Yes, that must be it – to see in all those little windows the various ways one can be alive in this city, to see that it all somehow fits together in a beautiful image. As I was making this image I could believe that this scene was first painted by an artist from imagination and the final tableau used by the workmen to build the actual roofs.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Last September I talked about "Flirting in Paris" A few days ago I found that the city of Paris is going to post messages on the large displays found in every neighborhood. They were soliciting short Valentine's day messages to display and I submitted one. If you are in Paris this Valentine's day and send me a picture of one of these signs with my message on it I will send you an 8x10 silver print of Flirting in Paris. Your best bet is in the 5th arrondissement.
As I said in September: “Look around at your fellow creatures, isn't it wonderful that you are all here together in this miraculous place.”
Flirting in Paris
Sunday, February 6, 2011
I look out my window and see the early morning sunshine. Paris, early on a sunny morning when it is not too cold and not too hot, is a magical place. The freshness infuses one with a feeling of well being, there will be a spring in your step, all that you see will be significant. After walking along rue de la Bûcherie in the cool shade, the bright sun of Square René-Viviani and the open face of Notre Dame bowls me over. I cross the square and sit for a moment in front of Shakespeare & Company. The Wallace fountain there forms a foreground for the majestic front of the cathedral. There aren't many people about but those that are are animated, full of purpose. I sit for a while in this spot. In my early years in Paris it was a refuge. I couldn't yet read French and just being inside Shakespeare & Company was a comfort. I bought many books here in those days. Just past the book store are several cafés. In front of Café le Petit Pont is a waiter who is enjoying the day as much as I am. He is twirling a menu and it is obviously something he has worked hard at and perfected. His routine is long and varied, I am so taken by it that I almost forget to capture the moment.
Clearly enjoying the morning, he has focused on the chance meeting taking place in front of him. His performance is aimed at the couple talking. “Come in, sit down, have a cup coffee and maybe a croissant” is his message. The moment is over in a flash, the couple is gone, the waiter goes inside and I move on, even more in love with Paris than ever.