I’m a big fan of street art, and the place I know best is the city where I first discovered just how great street art can be: Paris, bien sûr! Come along with me to visit my own piece of Parisian street art, and to see some art I photographed this past June.
Above: a gorgeous, larger-than-life bison wall mural in the 12th arrondissement. I had trouble finding the artist’s name, but my friend Dan found it: he is Ruben Carrasco.
In April, after months of lockdowns and curfews, France was a-buzz with chatter about reopening. The government began to announce the slow and deliberate steps that would begin to ease us back to some semblance of a “normal” life, always with the caveat that increasing covid numbers could lead to a retraction. There was a rising sense of hopefulness, perfectly timed to coincide with spring. Thus it was that a few of us hatched a scheme to visit Paris in June.
I was coming home from some errands when I saw the sign posted at the edge of the big roundabout outside of town. On July 9, the road to Aigues-Vives would be closed due to the Tour de France.
Well, here was an interesting piece of information! I knew I had to figure out how to see it. I did a little asking around and checked in with friends; web sites were searched to determine the exact route through our corner of France. We ended up being a group of five who drove a few miles up the road to Aigues-Vives to watch Stage 13 of the 2021 Tour de France.
I never paid much attention to birds until we moved to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. There, living in a smaller town surrounded by nature, I fell in love with the amazing breadth of avian life, and a pair of binoculars had a permanent home in the kitchen window. When I sold the house, I wrote up several pages of notes about it for the new owners; at least half was about the birds.
Moving to another country on another continent has plenty of challenges, and it took me a while to realize the effect of not knowing the local birds. I’ve struggled to put this feeling into words. Suffice it to say that I’ve been walking around here for nearly four years with a vague sense of unease, of not fully belonging, in part because I don’t know who the birds are.
Going to an auction It happened in the Before Times. It was October 2019 BT. (I could say “BC” for Before Covid, but BC was already taken.) Anyway, my sister-in-law Kathy had a business trip to Paris, and I had arranged to meet her there for a few days. It turned out to be a brief but astonishing voyage of discovery.
Kathy was in Paris to attend a two-day Sotheby’s auction of selected works of the sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne. She was already well along in the planning of an exhibit of their work for the museum where she works, The Clark Art Institute, in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and she had good reasons for being present at the auction.
A lovely day in this corner of paradise Saturday, 3 April was our last day of freedom in France— our third covid lockdown was looming. The weather was fine, and a small group of us decided to have a day trip, driving nearly two hours to begin our adventure in the hamlet of Douch, situated north of us in the sprawling Parc Naturel Régional du Haut-Languedoc.
Before putting our boots on the trail, we were enticed by the hamlet, built entirely of local stone. We spent a happy half-hour strolling past ancient structures, some in perfect condition, others showing the effects of time and gravity with warps and dips and missing stones. Douch is a place right out of a fairy tale.