Sunday, October 30, 2016

last day

The apartment is filled with flowers. Purple and pink -- as if some intuition lead my friends to bring the colors that best suit the white and minty green of my apartment.

The flowers will have to be disposed of (or passed on to my sister!) tomorrow, but today, they decorate the place beautifully. Positioned mostly on an old restored chest of drawers, they stand just below the framed pictures of my farmette garden -- thereby tying together my worlds that are otherwise so disparate and far apart.


I eat a light breakfast -- copious amounts of Polish raspberries and what are called American cranberries, but are in fact in the U.S. referred to simply as blueberries.


Frost hasn't come to Poland yet this year (except in the mountains) and so the berries keep being delivered to the markets, but you can tell that the weather is on the cusp of turning. Where will it turn to this winter? Will it be wet? Full of snow? I'll be here for a bit in December. I'll find out.

I meet up for an early coffee with my treasured friend and we have just a short while to talk about all that's on our minds right now. This is the time to worry about those who we worry about and to reaffirm what's good in this world.


She then goes off to plant crocuses in her garden and I go back to thoroughly clean the apartment until I am satisfied that it looks the way I want it to look when I return in December...


... and then I wait for Barbara and Shmuel, so that we can do our one big walk through Warsaw together.

During our walk, we cover a lot of ground! My friends are so curious, so full of questions that it makes my heart sing.

I show off a broad palate of Warsaw life as I knew it growing up here. In other words, I take them first to the neighborhood of my childhood (and adolescence).

Come, peer inside this bakery!


And look how those lamp posts soar on Constitution Square!  And the apartment buildings -- they are a great example of Socialist Realism architecture. Finished in 1952 -- a year before I was born. I always lived no more than three blocks from the square's center. Except for now...


When I was very young, this strong person towered above me... Like this:


When I was older, I wondered: is this woman a professional woman who is also is taking care of her child, or is she a laborer, caring his notebook and pencil -- a symbol for the need to educate our young?


And where do you think I would take my friends now? What favorite spot would I save for our last hours together in Poland?

If you've been reading Ocean for any length of time, you'll know I want to take them to the parks.

First then, the "lesser park" (but only because the grandness of the second park is so great that it overshadows all other parks on this planet).  Here's where you would find me with Snowdrop on any (and perhaps every) day of the year if we lived in Warsaw.


(Mostly empty benches now, but there is this threat of rain. I pick up a few fallen chestnuts. My heart surges with memories of doing just this on golden autumn days of childhood.)


Next, we walk to Lazienki Park.  I know I've build it up. My friends understand that I love this place so very much. So I start gently: the entrance takes us to the emptier upper tiers... (You see?? This IS a good time to be in Poland! The colors are sublime!)


As we begin the descent to the lower park, we encounter the red squirrels. My pals! Are you related to the ones that I fed as a child?


(A side step into the autumn gardens before the Old Orangerie)


And then we sweep down toward the belly of the park along the avenues that demonstrate that yes, the rain may be just seconds away, but that's no excuse: Walk! We have this park... walk through it and be part of the great landscape that generations before you have created here!


The rains come down now. I mean, they really come down. Does this stop me from admiring the heavenly chestnuts and oaks, sweeping over the lake that runs to the back of the Lazienki Palace? No.


But I'm feeling like a good guide would find a way to have her troops take cover. So we go into the palace, which was once the bath house for the royalty (that had it all too good around here).


A delightful and very informed resident guide shows me the painting that was the favorite of the king: the washerwoman. I dont know how he knows that it was the favorite, but I don't ask. He seems so certain.

Barbara chimes in -- it seems that the one above should be your favorite! Ah yes, the cheepers. Here you have both pictures:


Looking out the palace windows, it appears that the skies should be clearing. I mean, don't you think?


Well, they have their own agenda. But it's a beautiful walk nonetheless!


Though this next photo reminds me that it is time for me to set my attentions toward home.


Just a few more minutes!

In the higher sections of the park, we walk over to the Chopin Statue. This monument was blasted by the Germans in 1940, but the sketches of the head surfaced after the war and by 1959, the entire piece was fully reconstructed. I was there for the inaugural Chopin concert on a cool but lovely May Sunday. I was just barely six.

I take a selfie on a self timer today.


We walk back into the heart of the city and we search for a place to eat. I lead them to the Hala Koszykowa -- an old market place recently opened as a place of many eateries and the occasional upscale shop...


It is crazy busy today so in the end, we walk back to the Constitution Square, where we'd seen the ever popular Aioli Restaurant, where some of us have salmon over chickpeas.


But perhaps my last photo would be one of those that I took on a self timer. I find it to be full of exuberance. And that's accurate.

It surely is a good closing statement of my days here.


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