February in the Park Laurie Fox PESSEMIER Acrylic on canvas 14 x11 inches
Artnotes: Nuts in the Park
“You see how the nut looks? Like your brain! Eat three nuts a day and your brain will be protected!” Our friend, P, faded into the distance as this lady, with the two long haired daschunds buttonholed me. “I’ve been worried about you,” she announced, not having seen me for several months. She knows my mother has Alzheimers and is watching out for me. “God has told me nuts are the answer. Especially noisettes (hazelnuts) in the fall.”
I enjoy walking Harika in the garden, or perhaps Harika is walking us. We have such a repertoire of characters in the Luxembourg Gardens. Harika has her friends, and we have ours, and fortunately they coincide from time to time. This morning, F, the Chinese man, with a demeanor more French than the French, talks to us about American movies. “I love them,” he announces, “especially from 1930 until 1970. Most of the movies have dogs. You Americans have a good sentimentality.” He goes on to talk about a Clark Gable film where Gable is a miner and he has a dog.
F, Cerise’s mother kisses Blair on both cheeks. P has told me this lady is searching for a husband. I thought this was just gossip but now I don’t think that’s the case. Today she tells us how her cat has died. She takes a photo out of her wallet, “oh, not that one, that’s my husband, he died last year”, quickly shoving it in amongst the receipts. She waxes affectionately about the cat, how it moved and how she loved to photograph it. “But, as much as I like cats, I may not get another: many men dislike cats, you know.” I tell her a man that doesn’t like animals isn’t worth having. She shakes her head and brushes my cheek.
We press on. There are four men walking around in six inches of water, in the pond, scooping up fish in nets. Some are clearly more adept at this than others, and the occasional seagull makes a score. It’s the yearly cleaning out of the “bassin”. I envision diamond rings from broken engagements, babies’ pacifiers, numerous rocks and coins. I am not sure I am correct, but can’t really investigate because Harika is prohibited to enter that section of the park. The ducks laugh heartily.
I alternate between loving the park and feeling like I am there with a bunch of busybodies. Keeping my distance is the key – my broken French helps in that regard. Blair and I are the only ‘couple’ to walk a dog – of this Harika is proud. We are also the only ones who really play with our dog, chasing Harika when she steals my glove, or tossing a stick when we can find one. It is clear that we treat our dog differently than the French treat their dogs. Harika, in our mind, isn’t entirely a dog.
It’s a sunny day with lots of promise. I wear my spring jacket, perhaps a bit to soon, F points this out.
We have coffee at Omar’s – he is from Tunisia and he makes the best coffee in the neighborhood. He smiles when we enter, that giant smile like we are his favorite customers. If I were to give advice on how to have a successful café, I would say, SMILE. I would pay any price for that.
If I were to advise any dictator how to stay in power, I would tell him to make sure the people at the bottom are happy. Toss aside a billion you’ve stolen to allow the poor to eat, and the educated to have jobs. I would advise the protesters to have a plan before overthrowing the dictator: to me, a coup is the more effective route.
As my mother used to say, “Nuts for the nutty.”
Laurie (painting and text) and Blair PESSEMIER