Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Linear Cathedral...

Despite the sunlight pouring onto the flowers in the last post, the weather here has been incredibly wet! Everything seems to be dripping, spitting or spouting water - not least of all the gargoyles on the cathedral. However, it was the beautiful linear effect of the scaffolding on the eastern end of the edifice that caught my attention.

Like strange branches of a tree, the shoots of a creeper or the vast web of a crazed spider, this intricate mass of lines has enveloped the architectural structure below, forming its own pattern, whilst highlighting the beauty of the forms of the cathedral too. The overall impression of cascading lines that underline the cathedral's calm and composure reminded me precisely of the stained-glass windows inside, of the  Atelier Simon-Marq.

These I just love...

Detail - vitraux de Brigitte Simon 

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Patience of Nature...

The anemone bulbs that I planted in late December (they were a Christmas present) slowly, but surely produced the beautiful flowers that I love so much - all those rich colours offset by the stark, matt black stamens. It's such a natural process, but yet it is one that still seems quite exhilarating as you watch the first shoots emerge, almost mysteriously, and the strange leaves develop, followed by the flowers that burst out boldly, or unfurl in a furtive, secretive manner. The patient resolution of this cycle of growth is so powerful that it is always surprising - like the tree roots and weed shoots that rise up from the thickest layer of tarmac, undeterred.

"Adopt the pace of Nature,;her secret is Patience" is a quote from the American poet and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) and there is surely a great deal of wisdom therein. However, patience does not necessarily come to us 'naturally', although it would be the best approach for much in our lives.

This month has been devoured by my impatient efforts to advance in different personal undertakings... A great love-hate relationship with my new crocheted blanket has resulted in many lost hours as metres of wool have been unravelled in the creative process, only to be rewound again after a great deal of dismantling. So this Work In Progress has not progressed as much as it would have done, had my obstinate nature not taken over from common sense. My inability to put down the crochet and walk away has been its undoing here - quite literally!

Meanwhile, I have been trying to cram my brain with the facts, figures and theories of.... the highway code (don't ask). Thinking this would be a brisk process was indeed an error. As much as I would love to stride on ahead, another pace has been set. My brain's seeming unwillingness to absorb all or any of this stuff has forced me to be patient, or at least try to be patient with the whole learning process. Unfortunately, I don't even seem to have the patience required to learn the art of patience itself!

Meanwhile, the forms of Nature around me move along in their determined fashion; the nasturtium seeds that I planted months ago have grown up to produce the bright, bold leaves above. Oh for the patience of Nature!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cat Café - Le Café des Chats - Le Marais - Paris

I went to visit one of the two 'Café des Chats' in Paris, last week. This one was in Le Marais, not far from the Beaubourg centre - the other is near La Bastille.

Well, the concept is pretty easy to grasp; since 2013, visitors to these establishments have been able to eat and drink surrounded by friendly felines.

Affable yet suitably aloof, these former rescue cats are in their element. Free to roam or relax, they focus on their human guests or to simply turn their backs on them with typical feline nonchalence.

Depending on their passing fancy, the cats may fleetingly visit your table or chair and rummage through any of your possessions..

Given the slightest occasion, they will gladly relieve you of a few choice morsels from your plate or fork, and then race off, revealing die-hard street-cat ruses. Some of them seem to have perfected their technique to an art, as visitors are not actually allowed to feed the cats!

Should they find things to their liking, they may stay a little longer, or not.... In which case, the cats will watch over their visitors from a dignified distance and/or height, peering out from the various perches or strategic points around the room.

For in fact, just as much as the cats are observed, they themselves observe us, each other and even the  odd passing dog...

And when that requires too much effort, they can always recline and roll up together in the café window...

The owner of the cafés is putting the business up for sale, yet hopefully there will be a long and prosperous future for these establishments, part of whose profits are given to cat protection associations.

Of course, such a café would not be to the taste of everybody, for obvious reasons. However, there is already history between Paris and the symbolic cat figure, but that will be for another post...