I went out for a walk this morning & to check out an art education center in town that offers evening classes for adults. After discovering that there is no way to take classes one-at-a-time, I bought myself a small sketch pad & then went ahead and sat down for a coffee in town before taking a relaxed stroll home.
On the way home, I stopped and stood for a while on a foot/car bridge that goes over a very small stream called La Moine – which I am fairly certain is a tributary of the Loire River. I had my headphones over one ear, listening to a French story book about the composer Erik Satie – a whimsical story about the man and his fantastical ways, whose chapters introduce some of his most beautiful piano pieces. My other ear was open to the sound of the traffic moving past, which I could feel in the vibrations that moved through the bridge. Leaning on the railing, I watched water running over a short dam, making a cascade just significant enough to bring to mind a waterfall. The sun moved in and out from the clouds, bringing a glimmer to the water & warmth to the pockets between my late-fall layers in and out with it.
I watched the water quietly for what seemed like a long time, absorbed in the sight, in all of the ways it resonated with every other stream of water I have ever stood and watched – from the great falls at Childs Park to the ebb of the Mediterranean. It was a wonderful sensation. And then I heard a voice –
“Vous regardez les beteaux sur la Seine?” I turned to see the man who had just passed behind me – a fairly tall old man whose back and shoulders were still straight, his white hair peeking out from under a wool cap. He wanted to know if I was looking at the boats on the Seine – but he hadn’t asked in a mocking manner, rather, he seemed to articulate exactly what I was doing – looking at once deeply into what I was seeing in front of me, as well as far beyond it.
What I saw in that stream – so narrow, so shallow in some places it looks more like a parking lot puddle than a moving waterway – was a whole collection of images of water moving & flowing – the juxtaposition of boats on the Seine as easily rendered as that of a cafe on the beach with a Hebrew sign, or the triangle parking lot of a marina in Trondheim, Norway, or the sunlight making flecks in the water through Pennsylvania’s deciduous canopy, or the teeny footbridge at Omega that crosses a thing which becomes a mud trail during the hot summer months, but that gulps and swallows again in the spring and fall.
“La prochaine fois!” I called after him, who was already many steps away. Next time. Next time I’ll be looking at the boats on the Seine. It’s beautiful, anyway! I added… “C’est joli quand meme.”
And it really, really was.