Monday, February 23, 2009

Ode to October

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a poem I wrote while walking in my favorite place last fall. And today, while still in the doldrums of winter's last stretch, with fog obscuring everything and raindrops pounding my soul while I sit in my office looking out, I thought I would share.

Ode to October

As I sit among the oaks
in the warm October sun
and the turning leaves
twist and dance before me

out above the meadow
a lone, silky spider's thread
sails along a breeze, visible
only for a moment in a crystal
flash of sunlight.

Moss sways in trailing rivulets
like the dreadlocks of a forest nymph
matted with twigs and leaves
and soon to be dripping with winter's tears.

The last of the season's dragonflies hover
and dart and now in the sun's path, hundreds
of gleaming, powder-white objects swarm,
basking in the sun's cloak of radiance,
invisible just a moment before.

The scent in the shadowed places
reeks of summer's early morning,
Earth's own tangy sweetness emanating
from piles of warm, dying leaves

smelling of pumpkin and sawdust,
swimming holes and overturned earth.
A small plane overhead hums its
nostalgic, rumbling tune taking me back
to my grandmother's garden

of spiny artichokes and pickling cucumbers.
In the kitchen, applesauce bubbling
frothy on the stove, swelling the house
with its tempting sweet tartness.

A fire crackling before the freshly-cleaned
hearth, sending billowy bands
of sweetly charred, smoky resin to fill
the quiet neighborhood.

In summertime on this walk
I duck into shady dells
and avoid the benches
drenched in scorching sun.

Today, the shadows are cool and biting
and I search for sun-warmed rocks
while yellow jackets hover an inch from the ground
as if searching for lost change.

Red berries perch atop bare stems
amid tufts of dirty cotton balls.
Dying leaves bed the trail and
whisper to me as my feet drag them.

Small oak leaves flicker and twirl
madly, franticly to their deaths while larger
leaves drift in slow motion, silently,
gracefully to their own last bed of scented needles.

An elderly lady bug, spots dimmed
and fading, climbs the mountain
of my shoulder and at the top
takes flight.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Paris Doors

One of our favorite restaurants in the 15th arrondissement has become an old standby. Le Suffren (84, av Suffren, is a favorite not only because it is close by in the neighborhood and serves a variety of huge salads but also because it stays open and serves all afternoon when most other places close their doors between lunch and dinner (2:30-7pm).

Open every day of the week and located on the corner of Suffren and La Motte Picquet, Le Suffren sits just at the end of the Champ de Mars so enjoys a view of L' Ecole Militaire. Aaannnnd, the waiters are extremely friendly (unless it's hoppin' busy and you happen to be in their line of fire while trying to deliver hot food-but c'mon, one can only push French waiters so far!). These guys are so used to the daily influx of foreign tourists on the Eiffel Tower/metro path (Six Line, Metro stop: La Motte Picquet) that they will happily chat with you in English without the usual burning glare of disdain.

My favorite salad is the Copacabana strewn with shrimp, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, raspberries and grapefruit but there are several to choose from. And as with most places in Paris, there is a price-fixed menu which usually includes a variety of fish done perfectly. Friends have told us the Steak Tartar at Le Suffren is some of the best they have tasted having tried it wherever they go. Since I prefer my hamburger barbecued medium on the grill, I've not ventured to taste it as of yet. Le Suffren's huge platter of oysters and other fresh seafood is a cornucopia of shellfish delights and their Choucroute as good as any we've tried.

But the real reason for this post is to exclaim over our new pathway of walking to the restaurant. We most often take the busy, main Blvd de Grenelle or the nearby Champ de Mars park to ooh and aah over the Eiffel Tower's lights (which sparkle every evening on the hour and were BLUE when we arrived last December!). But one evening, with some friends, we took their route down Avenue Suffren and marveled over doors I'd either never seen before or walked right past.

How could anyone miss such playful and intricate ironwork?
I also learned something new on our most recent visit. I had not realized that Parisian stores are not allowed to hold sales but twice a year when they all do them at the same time, one in summer and one in winter. We happened to be there during one of Paris' two sales times. I heard friends talking about hitting the big sales and more than one asked if we'd made it to any but only had it explained to me later why this was such a huge deal. The "Soldes" are state-regulated and this winter's sale started on January 7th, ending February 11th. Leading up to the Jan.7th opening starting gates, the metro walls were covered with posters such as these:

And my personal favorite:

Coming up in future posts, a trip to L'Atelier des Chefs (the French cooking school) and December's Christmas window displays.

Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen

Monday, February 9, 2009

Judson Laipply is Back!

It may not look like it but I really don't spend much time at YouTube. People send me things or I catch wind of them some other way. However, being one of the most-watched videos of all time (according to Wikipedia), part I of this video was the first thing to come up when I googled YouTube. And it gave me exactly what I needed this Monday morning. So thought I'd share.

It's in 2 parts so break it up if need be.
And enjoy!

Videos 1&2 put together by Jambiiii.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Paris in Snow!

As Paris has been covered in snow again recently, it seems the appropriate day to share some of my photos of the same from last month.

While living there for a year in 2004-'05, I spent many a spring morning during my walks feeding the ducks who call the ponds of the Champ de Mars home.

When my ship comes in one of these days, I may dress up like Francois Simon (aka, Anton Ego) and see what kind of service some sideburns might get me at the uppity Jules Verne Restaurant.

No Boule played here today.

A persimmon tree steadfastly held onto its ripe fruit while a blossoming bush patiently waited.

Summer picnics and embracing lovers were but memories of the past
(as other shutters clicked around me)...

...and summer just a daydream away.

Everywhere shone white on white!

And for awhile I stood in a magical spot just to take it all in.

I played with designs...

Wished I could paint...

...and having filled myself and my camera,
went home.

Photographs copyright: Kirsten Steen