There is a garden even when there are no trees
On a bright sunny winter’s day, I landed back in Paris after an even bigger, brighter, barefoot couple of weeks in Australia still with my beach hair tucked into my hat.
Paris was showing off! All the winter sunshine coming at crazy angles, making every object, person and bare tree have exaggerated shadows and teasing the photographer in me as cafés, shops, and metro stations flashed by from the taxi window.
I was so grateful to have escaped the Parisian winter for a couple of weeks to Oz to see my family and friends and reconnect with my inner and outer Australian, yet today I was dazed and amazed to see Paris in winter in all of this light.
The following day, it felt like God had switched off the light, the way I remembered Paris in winter. Clouds descend and hover over the zinc roofs, the sun comes up at 9 am and goes down around 5 pm and those jet-lagged hours between 5 am and 9 am feel like the bleakest hours of your life as you wait for the first ray of light praying that the sun will rise just one more time.
Seasonal amnesia had hit again. I had forgotten what it felt like when the temperature is so low it is too cold to snow!!! That darkness that strikes at the very heart of my Australian light-loving spirit, the cold that makes you want to have hot baths twice a day and with a click of my fingers I forgot why I am here.
It was in this bleak jetlagged mood that I was given a gentle reminder by a Parisian friend about where to find the garden in Paris. We were talking about swimming in the sea and having a garden, about the beauty of plants, trees and flowers and how deeply I needed them in my life. He told me this:
“In Paris, our garden is our city, it’s streets, cafes, cinemas, and museums. We call it ‘l’art de vivre’ – taking advantage of the good things in life. It’s not the big luxuries, it’s also the small luxuries, life’s very own luxuries. Soft music, a cup of hot tea in your hands, admiring a beautiful painting, walking along a boulevard as the city comes alive or enjoying a little elegance. It’s about sitting in a café and reading your favourite book, watching life come and go, knowing no-one will ever hurry you along.
Just like you would go and spread a picnic rug on the grass on Sunday in Australia, we go and have lunch in a local café with friends and spend the afternoon in a museum, letting the art be our trees and the cinema be our swim in the ocean. We look inwards and use the winter to slow down, recharge, relax and reflect. We use our city and it’s details like a garden to soothe, regenerate and inspires us so that when the Spring comes your creative well is full, your energy is recharged and you can go forth into the real gardens and enjoy.”
So wherever you are, there is a garden just waiting for you to walk through it, to smell the roses, listen to the music and gaze at its beauty. Like Paris in winter, it may be a garden of a different kind; you just need to be reminded how to find it.
Sending love and roses from this beautiful café where I am writing this after seeing a ‘flower filled’ exhibition.
Love and hugs,
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