Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pigeons

Sometimes I forget about the rest of my life, reminiscing beautiful moments of childhood. Usually I live in the present, I always considered the present more important than the past. Anyway, it is hard to explain, some memories are bringing a kind of peaceful joy into present days. I am remembering good old days, going where my heart is dragging me.
My memories invaded me because a few days ago I saw in the middle of the city a refuge especially made for pigeons. And they were flying over my head today. My family had an old house, a real refuge for pigeons. When I was playing in the yard or reading lounging on a chaise longue or a folding bed, I was listening to the hustle and bustle of hundreds of pigeons, nesting in the attic. Sometimes they were falling down from the roof (where they had their „living room”), before learning to fly and my uncle was throwing them back. Other times some of them were hurt or poisoned with chemical products scattered in the fields and we were doing our best to save them.
Then I moved in the city and for a long time I didn’t notice any pigeon. They reappeared in my sight in the 90’s. Some people in this city became very hospitable and attached with them, feeding them for example with wheat germs in different places on the streets or in the parks. Even me,  I did that once, happy to see them coming around me, having their lunch together with sparrows. But what seemed a little strange for me was the fact that seagulls (a natural enemy for pigeons) appeared in my city located far from sea, in the same time. They were flying on different boulevards, although the canal of the river was dry in the center of the town. The seagulls have been a constant companion for me until today, they are exploring every day the nearby roofs. I think that some cities have pigeons without hosting seagulls. I have seen many pigeons in Vienna or in Paris, where they were landing in front of the cathedral Notre Dame, among tourists. My city, Bucharest, doesn’t have the same tourist attractions those cities have. Anyway I was only a passer-by there for a few hours, I didn’t pay too much attention to these facts. And the ecological system in my city is in equilibrium with these vagabond pigeons on the streets. Near my apartment I noticed also magpies and crows.
But something more unusual happened when I  visited my grandfather in the countryside last year. A lost pigeon came into our garden. First, I watched him from a distance. He was alone and so sad… Then I noticed he had a green ring on his left foot with an inscription, a matriculation number on it. I understood that he belonged to some kind of nursery for pigeons, but who knows why he was lost there? My family gave him fresh water and food, but we could not save him. We did not know where to call for his rescue. In the village we did not have internet or other sources of information. Maybe no one would have come there for one single pigeon, but I felt so much pity for his fate…He slept in our courtyard one night. After two days he disappeared. I was really sad, the poor lonely one could not adapt in the wilderness, like other pigeons there. 😦

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Gates and Fences

The two guardians of a property. Their appearance varies according to the customs of the people, to the goal they serve, to the nature of the things they protect or the eventual intruder properties. Some gates are used for sacred or decorative goals, for example Japanese Torii, traditional gates without fences, marking the transition from the profane to the sacred. Some Romanian monasteries have a gate at a distance from the actual sacred inner space, a gate marking the borderline space. Other fences don’t have gates, being used to mark the limits of an inhabited land, to protect the vegetation inside the enclosure from animals or to protect the fauna and flora in a reservation from outer pollution.
The ethnic properties (habits, traditions, specific necessities) of a population leave their mark on the way people are constructing their fences and gates. For example in a typical peasant household in Transylvania the house has a small door built near (or sometimes inside) the large gate used for horse or cattle driven wagons. In my grandparents’ village, almost deserted now, located in the South of Transylvania, on the river Olt, houses are built close to each other, but in such a way that proprietors cannot see the neighboring courtyards from their own. The courtyard leads to the house garden, in the back of the property. There you can find a spirit of fraternity, combined with individualism and privacy protection. The gates are usually made of wood in the old tradition, more recently replaced with iron gates. Sometimes the gates are sculpted, creating different ornaments.

Fences are also made of wood (planks) and sometimes wire. Our garden was surrounded once by an interesting thick fence made of thin rods, continued with a more usual fence of planks. This one was an opportunity for me in my childhood to step over it where I had my special place, using the holes and the empty spaces as a ladder. Sometimes it is so easy to jump over a fence or to sneak under it if it is a pole fence, easier than locking and unlocking the gate or the front door. Sometimes the nearby dog is the only real guardian and alarm.

 

When larger villages became towns they preserved this special type of gate, with some adaptations.

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The Sun Always Rises …

Daybreak at the Golden Gate

Thinking about that I can say I was lucky. A sunrise is a good incentive for starting a new day. Knowing that the sun will always rise to enlighten our life is a good feeling. I am not thinking about any kind of Apocalyptic days, I simply think that we, earthly beings, are lucky to acknowledge that until now this is a certitude…or isn’t it?
I have a feeling that the Sun will shine every day from now on my whole life. I cannot predict something certain for the future. There are many expressions in different cultures about the Sun. For example, when a person feels that he overcame the unlucky long lasting events in his life, he can say: „Now the sun is shining on my street too.” If a person’s value is nor certain, or if it is disgraced, some people say: „He casts his shadow  on the ground in vain.” Because the sun is the cause of having this true and reliable companion in our lives – the shadow. If something seems strange or unusual for a moment, we can say in a wise manner: „Nothing new under the sun.” Can we, humble mortals, say like Dante that there is something above our Sun? „The Love which moves the sun and the other stars.” This leaves a door for interpretation, it places the human above the cosmic order or in the center, in a humanistic tradition. (Dante’s writings are related to early humanist ideas).
If you read my rambling thoughts here, I can say now that I am honored to be your contemporary, under the same sun, which cannot bring light to the whole planet in the same moment. We have something in common. I said I was lucky because my windows are oriented to the East. And in the countryside the view from our garden and in front of our front gate is revealing the newborn sun each day. Once upon a time, when I was young, I used to walk on the nearby streets, chasing the setting sun. I was in love with sunset colors, with the beauty of that moment, leaving sometimes a long lasting trail on the sky. Growing older I can say now that the rising sun inspires me more. Sunrises can bring at least the same awesomeness in one’s perception as the sunsets. The difference is that after a sunrise we are drawn in a new day, we have to let the dream melt into everyday life business. Like this the beauty of sunrises is less inspiring for dreamers who are enjoying more the sunset, slowly disappearing into the night.
I was once at the seashore to watch the sun rising from the sea. Those who leave near a sea or ocean East oriented are lucky to admire that. For me the sunrise became the most wondrous moment, reminding me of ancient myths. The moon was always less inspiring for me, hiding somewhere far from home or showing her face in full daylight sometimes. I also remember the total solar eclipse in 1999. I stood on a blanket on the ground watching the Sun disappearing with special sunglasses. The daylight through the eclipse seemed so eerie, as if I were transported to the Moon. Then I had lunch. That day I was not lucky.

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Virgin Portraits

Rafael - La Belle Jardinière

Today I will try tell what I think about Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ and her depiction in paintings or sculptures.
I was raised by my paternal grandmother, a woman baptized in a Reformed Church who embraced the Orthodox traditions after being married to an Orthodox man. She used to tell me that in her first religion the importance of Virgin Mary is insignificant compared to the Orthodox dogma, because after all she was only a woman who carried the Redeemer in her body, giving birth to a child like any other woman. She taught me Pater Noster in Romanian and another child prayer towards God.
My maternal grandmother was a peasant woman of Orthodox religion, who taught me when I was a child the prayer Ave Maria in its Romanian Orthodox version. I had my book of prayers and my own little cardboard icons, and the image of Virgin Mary became for me little by little something graceful, elusive, delicate. I also had in the countryside many icons hanging on the walls, with the Holy Family, Christ and Virgin Mary and also Saint Anna, mother of Virgin Mary.
When I grew up I read a few art history books, admiring different Madonna portraits. I saw that usually (in many paintings) the colors the Mother of Christ wears are blue and red, pure colors who can integrate symbolically from the psychological point of view different directions of human thinking, activity and passivity, love and contemplation, devotion as a whole.
Thinking about them I must underline that I was impressed the most by Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures depicting the Virgin, Botticelli’s Madonnas and Rafael’s Madonnas. My favorite was by far „The Madonna of the Beautiful Garden” (La Belle Jardinière, 1507), which impressed me more than others, because of the harmony of colors who seem to fill all my heart’s chambers. I found there a language of colors delicate and pure, yet poignant, in relation with smooth and melodious lines. Everybody reacts in front of a painting according to personal past experiences and for me that Madonna painting was bringing back in my mind my childhood feelings, which were the roots of my religious attitude – the children playing outdoors, the graceful attitudes, the book on the Virgin’s arm reminding me some Annunciation paintings, the powerful emotional bond between Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus…
A few years ago I bought for me a present: a small collection of Virgin portraits, from the Xth century until contemporary paintings. It seems that in professional painting Saint Mary gradually lost through the ages some of her Renaissance spiritual characteristics. Otherwise Saint Mary exists in many colloquial clip art images, which are almost the opposite, depicting her in sweet colors, like a fairy queen for little girls.  🙂  When I was tired it was good for me to try to draw myself Virgin and Child portraits…

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