Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strangers in a Far-Off Land

"Well, wasn't it Shakespeare who said that when strangers meet in a far-off land, they should ere long see each other again?"

"Shakespeare never said that."

"How do you know?"

"It's terrible. You just made it up."


I had some surprising encounters on my first fully conscious day in Paris.

First, I found myself aux Champs-Elysées.

It was sous la pluie, at about twenty minutes to midi. I'm counting it. And there was tous que . . . well . . . tous que j'ai voulu, I guess, because at the end of them was the Orangerie, which is where dead impressionists live. The big attention-grabber is two astonishingly beautiful Monet panoramas, which are like stepping into a fairy kingdom. Sadly, no pictures allowed.

I did get a picture of this, though: 

I've never been that enamored of Cezanne. Monet was my Impressionist of choice, mostly because my dad showed me one of his Japanese bridges at the Art Institute in Minneapolis when I was little, and I can still remember the magical instant when my dad, after backing me away from the canvas, asked, "Can you see the bridge?" and then suddenly I could. But this Cezanne really grabbed me. He has something Monet doesn't. He can paint summertime. Not just the colors and textures, but the sound and the smell of it. Looking at this painting felt like those precious moments at camp, when it is perfectly comfortable to be outside (rare moments--outside is generally uncomfortable in some way; that's why we invented inside) and there is no pressing task and you know for certain that you will be young forever and ever.

 Here's a pretty picture of a room full of pretty pictures. It is a selfie, one of which I'm rather proud. Can you spot me?

Wandering past the Orangerie, I encountered this rather startling sculpture. Those in the know will understand why this resonated with me.

My next unexpected encounter was while having lunch in the garden (a crepe all stuffed with egg and cheese and mushroom . . . yum). My uninvited guest was a house sparrow, just barely seen here perching on the back of the chair opposite. He wanted to share. I was less enthusiastic.

Then I dove into the Louvre, and encountered lots and lots of things. I encountered La Liberté, but she was busy guidant le peuple so we didn't get a chance to chat. 

I also encountered my heretofore-unknown namesake, the Empress Ariane:

And of course I encountered the strange and magnificent pyramid that is the peculiar and compelling liminal hub of the museum. 

Magical things happen in liminal spaces.

It's true.

Because guess who was there in the crowd?

I will close with an image of this person about to start on his flambée and extremely rum-soaked crèpe Martinique

Like, really rum-soaked. It stung on the way down.

(Hey, Word of Wisdom only says I'm not allowed to drink it.)

1 comment:

  1. I have discovered if I post comments on your blog from my phone, they do not stick. I'm sorry you have missed out on them all until now. I don't remember what I said, except that you are much better-looking that the Empress, and most probably lots more fun. I don't recognize the Person. The sculptor of the fallen tree must have had some history in common with you, eh?