Another Golden October

photo: luxembourg palace & trees
Fall looks as advanced as the shadows in
the Luxembourh Gardens.

Not In Paris, In Munich; Not Now, Then

Paris:- Wednesday, 4. November 1998:- Last week I started an article about Paris' plans for the Seine with, "There is no October I can remember when rain pelted down so endlessly, etc." As I wrote that phrase, I couldn't help thinking of another October which was exactly the opposite.

Although the 'Seine' is a big Paris story, what I really wanted to write about was 'golden October;' but I was foiled by the weather. The whole week I watched the weather reports keenly - hoping for a chance to go to the Luxembourg Gardens. To go and match them to another park - 29 years ago, on the same end-of-October weekend.

Today I have the feeling that Paris is luckily in the 'eye' of its current and unusual low-pressure system, and is offering a narrow opportunity to take in the gardens.

Coming out of the métro at the Hôtel-de-Ville, where a lot of sky can be seen, it looks dubious at best. The city hall's reception area is beingphoto: ponies & carriage renovated for its next modest exhibition and the city seems to be operating okay, so I head for the left bank, by way of the Pont d'Arcole.

Well, you can see it is fall, even if the ponies are difficult to spot on account of all the detail.

The fast changing light on the river is worth photographing - but that was last week - so I keep on into the blinding sun, past Notre Dame and cross the Pont au Double and see how fast and high the river is running.

I go to the right of Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, cross Saint-Jacques, enter the rue Saint-Severin and pass around it back into the blinding light again. Going up the boulevard Saint-Michel, the trees still have a lot of leaves and there is more shade.

Up at the top, by the rue Soufflot, the crowds are less and there is a lot of light again as I cross over the place and go into the gardens through the high iron grille.

Inside the park, there are not many people. The gardeners have put fallen leaves into bins, so there are not many on the ground. The ones that are down, are either yellow or green, with brown edges. With all the rain, they are not changing into varieties of colors.

It is not particularly warm either. It must be lunchtime's tail-end, but still - sitting outside will not be a long-term proposition if people are inclined to try it later on. I think this is the best I can hope to get this year.

There are a couple of reasons I particularly remember Sunday, 2. November 1969. I was in Munich and I spent a long time in the afternoon wandering about in the huge Englischer Garten, which run north of downtown a long way, between the river Isar and Schwabing.

The day was incredibly warm and everyone was in shirt-sleeves and the park was packed. Thousands were feeding the very fat ducks, geese and swans at the lake and many more thousands were sitting around in the beer gardens under and beside the Chinese Tower; and the two orchestras were playing there.

Most of the leaves were still on the trees and due to the largely sunny and mild October, they were all colors, but mostly golden. Golden October. There was even a bad wine with the same name.

At the somewhat secluded - this was 1969 after all! - outdoor 'sonnenbad,' pretty, young ladies were sunbathing in bikinis, not quite so micro as are worn today. In fact, it was the only legal place to lie on the grass then, and was well-screened from casual peepers by plants, bushes and trees - but there were so many other people in the park and the season was so late, people were all over the grass everywhere anyhow.

It was like a 'free' bonus day of golden October magic. And I felt terrible.

It was my last day as a playboy in Schwabing. I had given up my ground-floor flat in a private villa just off Nickolaiplatz, at western Schwabing's very centre, close to everything and thephoto: medicis' fountain gardens too - and moved the day before to a furnished room in Ramersdorf - as far in Munich from Schwabing as it was possible to get and still be in the city.

Deep shadows hide the details of the Medici fountain too.

I was broke and I could not afford to sit with people I knew who would be passing the whole afternoon at the beer gardens by the Chinese Tower. I had enough for three beers at the Leopold later on, but I knew they would be bitter.

The day was so good. It almost overcame its oppression. The next day, Monday, I was scheduled to start work at 7:00 at Siemens, in the Hoffmannstraße. It was as far from Schwabing as Ramersdorf, and it was far from Ramersdorf too.

I couldn't help thinking I'd be down there at the unholy hour of seven, while some leisurely hours later, the Schwabing playboys would have the park to themselves; with the exclusive use of the taps at the Chinese Tower.

At the end of the afternoon I wandered into the Leopold and took my usual place at the usual table and the usual people were there where they'd been for years. I had the beers and they had no cheer in them. Easy come and hard to go, and I took the two trams to the end-station at Ramersdorf.

On Monday, work started in freezing rain. On Wednesday, 5. November 1969, it began to snow. It snowed off and on until February; until I quit the outside work and traded it for a job in an unheated cellar in the Schwanthalerstraße. It was a step in, but it was a step down.

The next time that was like that October time, it was late summer or early fall, and the weather was outstanding too.

This year, we haven't been able to get any weather remotely like it. Today in the Luxembourg is a pale imitation. The brightest spot is the merry-go-round. It is uncovered and operating; which I've never seen before.

There is even a shot of light on it, over on this dim side of the park, by the Fleurus exit. Otherwise, itphoto: carrousel is cool. I hurry out to the gate and pass the twinned libraries, and go in the first café I come to.

Today is the first time I've seen this carrousel in action.

I've been here before, but I don't know its name. It looks like a comfortable place to pass an afternoon. It has booths and free papers. The guy of the pinball machine is having a noisy time with it - like they all are now. Otherwise, I could spend some time in this nondescript café.

Back out on Fleurus, I cut off before going past number 29 or whatever it is, and go mostly straight up to the métro and then ride down to the Porte de Versailles.

Being at the Porte de Versailles means there will be no golden October this year. At the Porte de Versailles the only thing happening is the future. Even if it looks confusing, it is the future and it is coming soon.

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