My Day in the Garden

Let’s kick it up a notch. I am not a wine aficionado; and I cannot spend a lot, but I figure that while I’m here, I’ll forget beer for a bit and try some different wines. Now the wines, like anywhere else in the world, run the price range from about €3 to your credit card limit. I choose closer to the €4 range because Pringles are €2 and they are pretty darn good.

img_7823I kind of get excited about the region, too. If it has Bordeaux anywhere on the label, well I go for it. Next is the label and how it looks. A few things get me every time. So, if it has gold on the label, then that is a plus. If the wine name is in a traditional fancy typeface resembling Old English, well that is a tug at my heart. If there is an illustration that reminds me of an engraving, well, that’s a bonus. Cork, yeah, cork is important. A number? Yes…any number will do. The current bottle has No 25278 printed on it. Notice the superscripted underlined “o” in number; that makes it even better! AND LASTLY, A COAT OF ARMS. Yes, a gold lion on the left and a silver lion on the right. It means this winery is in a family and it goes back for centuries. It all adds up to greatness. Now you, too, know what goes into picking a bottle of red wine at the grocery store. I can say that I have yet to experience a bad bottle of wine in France, and I have experienced too much paint thinner by the time I drink some of the wine to know exactly how good the “bouquet” is. I can tell differences in bouquet and taste. Just for the record, I simply smell the paint thinner; I never actually drink it!

I was drinking my first cup of coffee when the sun rose.

The sun came up! No clouds? Sky is clear? The weather report on the phone says mostly cloudy…. I decided it time to go to the bakery. So, I cannot speak French – well, I can say “bonjour madame,” point at a pastry until she gets the right one, and I know they would love the money… I did it. I got the chocolate éclair, paid for it and left. Now what? The sun is still out. Place des Voges is only 4 blocks away, and I trek over to the park, find myself a bench, break out the éclair, and eat it as slowly as possible. For a brief fleeting microsecond, I am French. Over.

I returned to my studio, ate lunch and decided that I would go next to the Tuileries Gardens for the afternoon and shoot pictures there. I just needed to be outside. After eating, the sky was completely cloudy. I took a nap. When I awoke, the sun was brightly shining, again. I grabbed my camera and headed out.

I arrived to gray skies. I simply did the best I could, getting the shots that were there, maybe. I spent 2 hours working the scene. I walked across the bridge over the Seine near the Louvre, went into Sennelier Art Store, didn’t buy anything, left the store, and saw that the skies were breaking across the river. Next, I worked my way back to the gardens and got almost all of the shots in this post. I had about 30 minutes of decent dramatic light with good contrasts.

My experience in the garden today reinforced what was taught to me in 17th century art history. The French demonstrate power, royal authoritative power, by controlling nature. I am saving Versailles for the end of my trip, but this garden is designed in a similar approach. It is controlled by a dominant axis, it is fundamentally symmetrical, and plant pruning is precise. That includes all bushes and almost all trees. I know from my own experience that gardening is a 12-month endeavor. A lot of folks think gardening only happens during the warm months of the year. The beauty does shift and evolve, but there is a beauty here, even in the dormant months. I feel fortunate to have been able to spend part of my day here as a transient part of it. I’m also happy that some of the fountains were flowing.