I went for a walk today on the island in the Seine between Neuilly sur Seine and La Défense.
On a whim I got off of the métro at Neuilly sur Seine. I was on my way to La Défense because I had never been there and my father always spoke highly of it. He said it was an example of how a civilization ought to build a modern high rise city: away from everything else, especially everything old and precious.
The specific reason for my expedition was that my father had told me many times that some time I should go to Auchan. Auchan is a French hypermart.
My father was intensely interested in the physical distribution of the various things humans need to live. He actually made a living for a period on the expertise that he had acquired in that discipline. And he always said that Auchan was an amazing example of what the distribution of merchandise could be at its best and most advanced.
So I was on my way to La Défense and Auchan.
The whim grabbed me.
I got off.
That métro exit puts one in a square that features among other things a sculpture of Sisyphus with his stone.
If one walks beyond that, in the direction of the river, one encounters several bridge choices. They connect with an island.
After a couple of miscues I finally found the bridge that put me on the downriver end – that is not an obvious interpretation because the river is going through a loop that could obscure down and up river - of the island. I was in a large park. It was a beautiful day and I decided to walk the entire end of that part of the island.
I had reached the upriver tip of the island when I felt, rather than saw, a slight darkening of the otherwise beautiful blue gold sunny day. It was a notch down in the previous brilliance. But it was palpable. Rather than an attenuation of light, it was more as if a thin veil of some kind of dark semi-transparent material had been dropped upon the scene, its presence filtering some of the brilliance out of the day.
It made me stop.
I looked across at the huge buildings of La Défense. They were still bathed in the intense gold of the day. It was only from where I stood – immediately in front of me out in the river - that the thin veil of darkness existed.
And then I thought I heard something.
I thought I heard sounds that were musical and joyous. There was the sound of a woman. There was the sound of a man. There was a sound of a dog. And they sort of mingled in a musical mélange.
My father always called joyous communication “hooting”. These sounds were hooting - even the dog.