Saturday, April 25, 2020

Spring 2020 ... simple pleasures

During this confinement, a "bol" of strong coffee, a croissant and a picture book of Paris is a comfort, and a pleasure.  Another pleasure is to search for photos, write a post, then read the comments that my blogging friends were kind enough to write.  For over a month now I have been alone in this house, with my cat.  Reading the comments makes me feel as if I am entering a circle of friends; they may be "e-friends" but I still feel the warmth as if they were close by.  I am grateful that you took the time to read my long posts and leave comments - it is a pleasure to read them, indeed.  As I wrote in my last post on spring, finding flowers near my house is another pleasure.  Some irises just bloomed in the back of the driveway - here they are.  (Please click on collage to see flowers closer.)

I ventured out to a couple of houses nearby.  One of them has a border of lavender irises and roses going to their front porch.

A couple of days ago I had to finally get out of the house.  I needed to collect my medicine at the drugstore.  I took mask and gloves and picked it up at the drugstore window.  It was a beautiful sunny and warm day, around 75 F (23.8C.) The drugstore is only 1 mile from my home so it's a quick ride in the car.  I did not want to go back home - it was so lovely outside.  There is a very large park close to the drugstore.  I decided to drive there.  It was still early and I thought if there were few people in the park I could venture out of the car.  This park is called Centennial Park.  In 1897 it was given this name in honor of the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's admittance into the Union of the United States.  The 132-acre (0.53 km2) park has a lake, paths, sunken gardens, recreation center and a replica of the Parthenon of Athens, Greece.  It is a full-scale replica of the ancient Greek temple and can be visited; although right now it is closed.  Years ago I did walk up the hill to the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, when I stayed with my father's Armenian cousins there.  Here are several vintage postcards of the Nashville's Parthenon.

I visited this park once before but did not go inside the Parthenon.  I'll do that in the future and will write a post on it.  As I parked by the lake I just noticed a gaggle of geese.  They swam toward me.

It did not feel as though downtown Nashville was only 2 miles away or the large Vanderbilt University complex less than half a mile away, too.  In the drugstore parking lot was a policeman sitting in his patrol car.  I asked him if the park was open.  He told me the entrance to the park was closed.  He then gave me detailed instructions on how to enter it through the back.  I found the way.  It was so peaceful there with no one around.

Wearing my dust mask, I walked a bit around the lake to check for spring flowers and shrubs.  There were pink azaleas in full bloom.

Below are more azaleas in a darker shade of pink.  I just read that there are over 10,000 types of azaleas and approximately 800 species.

Azaleas can also be cut and replanted.  I had not thought of that, but now when I go back to my house in Georgia I'll take cuttings from my three azalea shrubs there and bring them back to Nashville.

Coming around the bend I saw a bench.  I sat to watch the geese.  A little duck came ashore toward me, as if he had been waiting for my visit.  I guess the birds have not been fed by visitors for a long time.

I walked toward the side of the Parthenon.  Then I walked back to my car.

It was strange in a way, walking in that large empty park.  It reminded me of the pictures I just saw of my old home-town Paris right now - totally empty of tourists.  Even the river Seine has no traffic.  (Photos courtesy La Parisien.)

It also reminded me of Paris during the war.  I was a wee child then but I remember walking with my mum in the streets - no tourists.  But the streets were not totally empty, there were some cars (mostly of Germans,) people walking, or on bicycles or motorbikes.  There even were funny motorcycles with seats attached to them, called "side-car" pronounced seed-carr.  Some bicycles with a cargo carriage were used as taxi-cabs, like the bicycles below, called "velo-taxi.".  Below are some old photographs from that era.  (Don't forget to click on collage to enlarge.)

Paris does look like a ghost town.  Policemen give tickets if people are out without a good reason that has to be stated on a signed document - they take confinement very seriously there.  But Centennial Park in Nashville, even without visitors, did not feel empty.  It was alive with birds, geese, ducks and squirrels.  It was radiant with colors of the flowers, shrubs and the varied greens of plants, grass and trees.  It was as if I had stepped through a magical place.  I was so glad I had come - a true pleasure.

My first time in town in over a month and it had been successful.  There is much fear, grief and sorrow right now, but still, simple pleasures do happen and should.  "Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life."  - Omar Khayyam, 1048-1131, Persian philosopher.

Back in my kitchen I could still watch the sun from all the windows. We had a skylight installed in the kitchen of the Georgia house.  While sitting by the table I could look up and watch the sky.  I got used to that.  Luckily the Nashville bungalow has many windows.  There are 4 tall and large double windows in the kitchen plus a window over the sink and a glass door leading to the covered patio.  The covered patio has 8 windows and another glass door going to the back deck.  For a bungalow built in 1930 it is surprising how many windows are in each room.  While drinking my coffee of a morning I can follow the squirrels jumping on the back porch and watch all the birds flying tree to tree.  It is cheerful (and a pleasure.)

Working for decades in the aeronautical field, in a large office with numerous cubicles and no windows, as soon as I'd go out for lunch or home I would immediately look up at the sky.  Was it sunny or raining?  Was one of our cargo aircraft taking a flight test?  Which one was it?  Air Force, Coast Guard or maybe a foreign air force customer?  I could tell by its color.  I could also recognize if it was a C-130, a C-141 or a C-5 by their sound.  I always looked up, a habit I never lost.  Here is a quote I really like.  It is by one of our past chairmen:

"There is a certain feeling of courage and hope when you work in the field of the air.  You instinctively look up, not down.  You look ahead, not back.  You look ahead where the horizons are absolutely unlimited."  - Robert E. "Bob" Gross, Lockheed's Chairman/CEO 1932-1961.

Walking to the back porch from the covered patio I can look up and see the sky much better.

I like to sit on the front porch in a director chair with my back to the street because I can I get a better view of the sky that way, toward the back (and don't have to watch people walking by, close together without masks; my Nashville zip code has the highest number of cases of Covid-19.)  Looking up at the sky always fills me with joy.

Often I bring my iPad with my little speaker and listen to music.  Looking up at the sky and listening to music - is there anything better?  Such a peaceful pleasure!  Here is the last piece of music I listened to yesterday, played by a Greek musician.

"Keep your face to the sun
and you will not see the shadows   
- Helen Keller, 1880-1968, American author

Gardez votre visage vers le soleil
et vous ne verrez pas les ombres.


Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much for this beautiful, hopeful, inspiring post.
I am so glad that you got out, and that the policeman was kind enough to direct you to the entrance to the park.
Heartbalm - for you and for us.
Stay well, stay safe.
And yes, bloggers DO become friends. And family.

Jeanie said...

I love this. Look at all the glorious blooms -- every single one is a gem. You are so far ahead of us. I'm glad you were able to get off of your property for a bit and then to discover something so beautiful and worth your time. I do my walks and get mad when I see people without masks. I try to keep far from them, cross the street if I need to. I wonder when this fear will pass...

Susan Heather said...

What a lovely walk - so glad the policeman told you where to go. No masks here on our walks - very few people and they all keep their distance. Keep safe.

Roderick Robinson said...

In some respects the Plague hasn't changed our lives. Our interests have been pursued indoors for many years now and we have each other. I write, read, study music, practise songs, my wife reads copiously and is likely to break her previous record (220 titles) for books read in a year. The cleaning lady keeps the house tidy since neither of us regards drudgery as a good way of passing the time. Intermittently a man of our age attends to the garden.

One daughter has always lived too far away to visit easily and we have had to give up visits to our other daughter who lives 45 minutes away. We might have suffered from a lack of family but thanks to Skype this is minimised. In one sense augmented. Three times a week we have an hour's chat but it is more than a chat. Our granddaughter and partner (very distant in the West Country) have joined the circle of laughing faces and we tease each other, shout out our prejudices, gossip semi-maliciously. As families do. Secretly we go to Amazon and despatch small presents to each other. All thanks to modern technology.

I can't remember if you use Skype but if you are able you should. It triumphs over the loneliness, it reminds us why we are following society's restrictive rules - on behalf of those animated faces we see on our computer screens. A delight without risk.

Christine said...

I have been out once since the beginning of March, to Costco and back home. My daughter does all my shopping and she took me. We are spending time cleaning up the garden....after my adventure with covid-19 I am outside as much as I can. Thank you for the tip about azaleas, I broke a piece off mine when moving it so will now see if I can strike it. I find the photos of Paris very sad. I am missing it sooo much, we should be there now...
Ah!well! Mustn't grumble as my Mother used to say, I am still alive and so appreciative of life itself, the birds and visiting squirrels in the garden keep us amused... and the chickens...
Thanks for your lovely post.
Stay safe

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Thank you. Your lovely photos feel like being outdoors. The flowers are especially enhance the blog reading.

DUTA said...

Your Love for the Sky is understandable as things, here, on Earth, are getting worse and robbing us of our 'joie de vivre'.
Your pictures are all little masterpieces of photography.

livininlb said...

Ah ha. I see now that I come by my love and appreciation of nature genetically. I do so much of what you wrote in your post. It is nice to enjoy the simple pleasures and of everything around us. It makes me sad that pollution is down so much right now because I know it will eventually go right back to where it was befiore this pandemic. I get sad thinking about all the ways we are harming Mother Earth. Your post is a breath of "fresh air."

Divers and Sundry said...

You drink your coffee just like I do -strong! :) What a pretty cup. Irises are our state flower, but I don't have any, so it's a delight to see your photos. It'd be wonderful to live that close to Centennial Park. I've enjoyed my visits there, and your pictures bring back fond memories. You do have windows that provide a great view. It's a comfort to have ready access to nature. It'll be sweet that you'll have azaleas from your Georgia house at your Tennessee house. I appreciate your Omar Khayyam quote. Perfect for these days.

Cop Car said...

Beautiful, beautiful irises. I have taken out about 1/2 of the irises that I once had (mowing grass is easier than maintaining planting beds); but, I still have a goodly assortment of colors - most of what you have shown. Mine still have a few weeks to go before blossoming.

We have one "hardy" azalea - deep scarlet - that has been blooming for a few weeks, now. Kansas doesn't have the profusion that the warmer/wetter states enjoy.

Thanks for taking us with you on your walk. Who would have thought to find a Parthenon repro in such a park? Wonderful.

Marja said...

oh how wonderful what a blessing to be in such beautiful garden without many people. It suits the quiet yes. Stranger to see Paris so quiet. I love all the bikes with the carts. They are atm very popular in Holland. You see bikes everywhere with all sorts of carts hanging behind. Packed with children or shopping.
The Greek music is nice. My favourite foreign music is French. I think it is such a beautiful language and regret I never learned it appropriately. I love the music of Patrick Bruel, Patricia Kaas, Maxime Nucci, Edith Piaf of course etc etc
The maori people have a proverb very similar to the Helen Keller quote "Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you"
Thanks for your posts They are always a little adventure

Joared said...

What a lovely walk in the park. Enjoyed the music video. My outings for weeks have been limited to drive thrus, pickups. Nature provides comfort— glad that you can derive so much pleasure from your surroundings.

Nadezda said...

I love these irises, Vagabonde, both pink and lavender. Glad you could go to the park. It's beautiful, although without visitors but with animals and insects. Especially azaleas are pretty, my rhododendrons are not yet in bloom. Yes, it’s hard to live alone (with a cat) for a month at home. What can we do to not get infected? Before there is no cure for this damned virus, we must live separately from our families, friends.
I hope that quarantine will end soon and our life will be better.
Take care!

DJan said...

Your post is very uplifting, and filled with joy and love of life. I enjoyed every last word of it, dear friend. And I can gaze at the pictures for a long time to come. :-)

DeniseinVA said...

I absolutely loved reading this post and seeing your wonderful photos and postcards. It makes me happy that you were able to get out and enjoy the park. An amazing outing made even more magical because of what is going on today. Thank you so much!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

How nice of the policeman to show you how to get into the park. What a lovely walk you must have had with all those beautiful flowers to surround you. We often drive around our area to see the all the wonderful sights of spring, and for some reason, I find myself appreciating the works of Mother Nature more than ever before. I will never take anything for granted again, including toilet paper.

Your pictures from WWII are so interesting and it reminds me that the most difficult times of life eventually do pass. We have a long road ahead but let’s hope the world will be a kinder, better one when this virus is eradicated.

Poet Pushkar Bisht said...


I am a poet. I am from India. I like your blog. I always take inspiration from others to learn.

It is said, “Everyone has something to teach us”.

I have a blog. Please visit mine and leave your comments.


Cloudia said...

This beautiful post feels like a wonderful outing to me! Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm a big aviation fan. Must add you to my blogroll ASAP. ALOHA

Buttercup said...

Love this post. Two of my favorite cities. I lived in Nashville in the 70s and knew the park very well. I lived on 21st Ave South and then off Hillsboro Rd. Thanks so much for sharing the flower pictures.

Rhodesia said...

How great to hear from you and I loved every minute of this post. That was good of the policeman to tell you how to get in the back of the park. Such cheery photos. I am grateful at least there is the two of us and we have a garden that needs lots of work. I must admit to barely noticing the lockdown other than only one of us is allowed to shop. Because I have had pneumonia 3x Nigel insists that he does the shopping and I do miss not being able to look around for certain items that are hard to find here or look for bargains. Take care and stay safe, Diane

Ginnie said...

I am so absolutely THRILLED, Vagabonde, that you were able to get and AND visit the park. How wonderful that the policeman actually told you how to get in. YAY. And YAY for all the windows, the flowers and the sky...and the ducks, the geese, the EVERYTHING that makes us believe there really IS LIFE out there. Please stay safe...and venture out again when you can do so.

Kay said...

Oh my gosh! You have posted so much beauty. Thank you for lifting my spirits. There’s a Parthenon in Tennessee? Wow! That is just amazing!

Vicki Lane said...

So much beauty around you! I'm so glad you got to walk in the park. IHappy May Day-- (I wanted to send you a picture of Lily of the Valley but have lost your email.)

At Home In New Zealand said...

Your spring is so beautiful. Glad you were able to visit the park and enjoy it. Simple pleasures are certainly the best :)

Marie-Anne said...

Chère Vagabonde, je viens de m'acheter un nouveau laptop et je peux enfin reprendre mes blogo-visites! Nous sommes encore aussi en plein confinement avec mon époux, à une cinquantaine de kilometres de nos enfants. Nous nous occupons de notre jardin mais notre petite fille nous manque beaucoup!
Tu as fait de très belles photos dans le parc!!! Tu étais donc venue à Athènes? Ma meilleure amie, et ancienne collègue, est d'origine arménienne et elle se passionne pour l'histoire de l'Arménie.
Je te souhaite un très bon mois de Mai! Dommage que je ne puisse pas t'envoyer un brin de muguet! On me l'avait porté de Toulouse il y a 4 ans et il pousse bien dans mon jardin!!!

Friko said...

Hallo, dear Vagabonde,

it is good to see that you are cheerful and busy. Yes, the little things make the big difference now that the big things are horrible and frightening. And wonderful flowers give such pleasure. Without them a lot of colour would disappear from our dreary lives.

I try to get out as much as I can, not in the village, just in my garden and the castle grounds which are fairly empty. No tourists now. Like you I am trying to keep my spirits up by all the little activities I enjoy, like reading, writing, gardening. I also treat myself to a glass of wine at night, something else I enjoy.

Stay safe, stay sane, stay happy.

Pam said...

Love the music and I love Paris and it definitely looks like a lonely place now. The park by you is gorgeous, beautiful flowers, and the Parthenon. I like a lot of windows and looking at the sky also. Nice post! Take care

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vagabonde - you have so many memories ... and I love seeing all the photos - of Paris, the plants and park etc - coffee and croissant sound delicious. You have a beautiful home to spend time in - and I hope you can soon get back to Georgia and see your house there. Take care - and all the best - Hilary

bill burke said...

Having the opportunity to get outside for a little while is nice. You definitely can appreciate the simple things that we all miss. Wonderful photos, flowers and old photos too were very nice to see. I enjoyed the visit. Have a wonderful week and stay safe!

The Furry Gnome said...

I'm enjoying your blog. Glorious blooms - not many here yet.

BeachGypsy said...

Oh what BEAUTIFUL pictures you have on this post--love seeing all those bright and pretty flowers! So glad you stopped in to my blog....thanks for leaving me the nice comment. Hope your spring is going great and you are staying strong and safe and healthy. It's been really hot here the past couple of days..up in the 90s. Has it warmed up there?

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, throughout this posting--of your day out and at the park and also your days at home looking up at the sky and listening to haunting Greek music--you spoke of peace and pleasure and friends you'd made through blogging. And I want you do know that as I read your posting, I could feel that peace oozing through my pores like honey. Your words filled me with the tenderest of peace. Thank you.

I don't know what kind of books you read--I do know that you love to research! But if you read historical fiction you might be interested in the series by Susan Elia MacNeal. They take place during WWII. The main character is a young woman who is a math prodigy and who ends up being involved with the new MI-6. So she's spying in France and Germany. The first book is "Churchill's Secretary." If this interests you, it's pretty important to start the series with book #1.

Thank you for sharing the deep down contentment your words conveyed to me. Peace.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Vagabonde,
Enjoyed your photos and you do have a wonderful area for walking and indulging in the sights of spring.
Indeed, let us hope that the dark shadows of these past months will soon be of our past and behind us!

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Those Canada geese get everywhere. Sad to see a deserted Paris. We normally spend our 90-day abroad car travel allowance in France and the last time we went was this March - by a weird coincidence we'd previously booked the Tunnel just an hour and a bit before lockdown. Think it'll be some months (at least) before we can return.

If you've not seen it, here's the Helen Keller garden in Cambridge, MA, with a plaque in Braille:

Linda P said...

Dear blog friend. Another interesting blog post sharing beautiful flowers and describing your situation and that of life elsewhere including your beloved France and Paris at this time. I had meant to comment before now, but somehow let this slip due to internet difficulties and various other recent personal events in my life. This isolated state is challenging. I'm so glad that you have ventured out now and again. However, walks are also a challenge and strange when neighbourhoods are mainly deserted and folk avoid contact by walking away rather towards one another. We hope and pray for a vaccine that will control the pandemic and all its terrible destruction to life and society. Greetings to you and I wish you well in the coming days. I'm doing this while I'm able to. I'm hoping my technical problem with the internet will be resolved so that we can communicate which is so important especially at the moment.

Arti said...

That's a beautiful park you have there near your home. I've just replied your comment on my blog Ripple Effects. The park I do my birding is Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and it's one of the largest urban parks in North America. It's mostly natural environs and not as cultivated as the pictures you have here. No planted flowers but mainly wild Nature. We at the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains here in Alberta don't have the warm temp. you have for flowers and colors, even the birds are less colorful. We don't even have the Cardinals! Not many red birds. And our temp. right now is 7C or 45 F. :)

Dewena said...

What lovely music! And your iris, we don't have any of them here and I miss them. Aren't we having a beautiful day here in Nashville today? And finally it's warm! You probably heard the Blue Angels go over today around noon, didn't you? We're too far, north heading to Springfield, but my husband and son are working in West Nashville today and were going to watch for them.

We used to go to the Parthenon regularly, every time family from out of state would come visit and we'd show them the sights. And there were some magical years as a child when we'd go at night to the gorgeous white lighted nativity scene outside the building that department store owner Fred Harvey gave to Nashville.

I knew you were from France but didn't realize that Paris was your home town. Even those of us who have never been have a special place in our hearts for your city so I can imagine how tender your heart must be for what she is going through now.

I didn't realize that about your zip code having so many cases of the COVID 19. That surprises me. Is it getting better now? I got out in public for the very first time last week, to our eye doctor near St. Thomas hospital, everyone in masks the entire time. Otherwise we've had FaceTime doctor appointments. I'm ordinarily a stay at home person anyway so this has not been terribly hard for me to comply with but I am beginning to miss getting out to my favorite antique stores. And on my recent birthday it hurt not to have all my children gathered here.

I share your love of sun through the windows. Yours are beautiful!

Glenda Beall said...

Once again you take me to a beautiful spot where I can walk with you and enjoy your photos. Your pictures of Paris during the war were fabulous. I am watching a series on PBS now about that time in our history and much of it is in France. You have taken me to Paris so many times with your blog and I thank you. I will never see it in person, but I feel it because of you.
I am alone in my house these days except for my little dog who is great company. My neighbors run errands for me and buy groceries for me. I worry that so many people don't take this virus seriously, but I almost lost my brother to it and did lose a friend. So, I know it is not "just like the flue" as some try to tell us.
Take care of yourself and email me if you want to chat.

Hels said...

The first thing I am going to do when the coffee shops re-open in my state (Victoria) is sit at an outdoor cafe, order an espresso and an almond croissant, and delight in a picture book of Paris, London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Prague, Stockholm etc etc. 1st June is the start of winter here, but I won't mind even that.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a beautiful written post! I enjoyed seeing the old postcards and then the photos of Paris that you shared. You've taken some great photos of the Spring blooms that you have. I'm going to put your post in my list of favs! I don't want to miss any of your posts. Hugs, Diane

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I enjoyed this so very much Vagabonde! You are being careful but still have the positive outlook we all want to emulate through all this. You have a lovely park n your City and a nice neighborhood nature walk. Your Paris memories are beautifully pictured! Thanks for sharing.
(I had lost touch with you and am glad I saw your comment on “Time Goes By”.)

The Furry Gnome said...

Vagabonde, how are you? Hope you're ok. Been missing your thoughtful posts.

Vagabonde said...

To The Furry Gnome - I am OK just having a bit too much to do. I drove back to Georgia a week or so ago for more clearing out of my house and now have to find a place for the bags I brought back.

I also intended to write a post about my friend Naomi Caryl. I talked to her numerous times. Rather than writing a post about our telephone conversations, I thought I would go through her old blog and pick up as much information on her for the bloggers who may not know her. Her blog was published from 2005 to 2015 and she wrote many posts. This has taken me a while but I am almost done - should have a post shortly. Thanks for asking.

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