Monday, August 5, 2013

The Parrots of Parc Montsouris

In 2010 when I spent four months in Paris I tried to use all that time to expand my patchy knowledge of the City.

That had been true because, over the years since my first encounter with the place, I had gradually walked more and used the Metro less.

Initially the Metro had been like training wheels on a bicycle.  It got me going.  It gave me myriad places that I would not have found otherwise, and, gradually, let me understand where they all were in relation to everywhere else.

In fact, as I got more and more familiar with the place, I sometimes found myself laughing out loud when I realized that a Metro trip I had just taken had put me somewhere that I really knew how to get to by walking, and that by walking I would have gotten there in half the time.

I decided in October of 2010 when I arrived for the four month sojourn that I would walk everywhere.

That quickly evolved into a desire to walk to ever more new and different places, places that I had not previously seen.

That led to a daily scan of the Plan de Paris for places that I had not been to before.

That led to my first visit to Parc Montsouris.

That visit was in early November.  The way I describe it in A Curious Confluence: The Story of Adrianna is pretty much how it happened in real life – up to the point of my entering La Souris Verte and being transported to another place and time.

But even without the excitement of time travel I had fallen in love with the Parc from the first time I had seen it.

And I have visited it many times since.

The walk from La Seine to Le Parc quickly became one of my favorites.

In 2012 I decided to stress test my love of Paris.

I rented my apartment for five months – 1 September to 31 January.  Five months was a longer time than I had ever spent in Paris.

Of course I resumed my walks.

By 21 November of 2012 I had visited Parc Montsouris a number of times.

The high point of those 2012 visits had probably been a sun drenched day in early October when I took a sandwich poulet, my collapsible plastic travel wine glass, and two 25 cl bottles of Côte de Rhone and sat on a bench by the little tear shaped lake and ate my sandwich while I fended off the swans and ducks that wanted to share.

I told them eating a sandwich poulet would be cannibalism, but they seemed not to care.

So I was surprised when 21 November became a day superseding the total enjoyment I had experienced eating lunch with the ducks.

It was a bitchy cold day such as only Paris can provide.

Things were feeling dark without being dark.

Although things were far from bright: there was a thin and ominous cloud cover filtering an already weak almost-winter sun. 

As I crossed Avenue Reille a drastic wind gust seemed to shout “this is winter and you’re going to be cold and miserable”.

But that had always been my state of existence while in Paris, so I just laughed derisively and continued to cross.

Then I heard it.

It was a sound that I knew but found unbelievable in the face of the winter chill.

Where I live in Seattle there is a large enclave of urban forest named after Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward. 

Seward Park has a resident population of parrots.

A pair once escaped from some nearby household and the escapees have prospered and multiplied.

So I know the call of a parrot.  I hear them all the time in Seward Park.

I looked in the direction from which the sound had come: up high in a very tall copse of trees that skirt the outer edge of the Parc.

I couldn’t see anything.

I decided that I had had a hallucination and passed through the gate and into the Parc.

After paying homage to all my rituals of places to visit in the Parc I was on its backside, across from the University of Paris compound when I heard the sound again.


This time I could actually see them.

And in several other – increasingly later in the winter encounters – I saw them again and, sometimes, managed to get pictures of them.

Here are a few.

paris 2012 parc montsouris parrots 010713 00003

paris 2012 parrots in parc montsouris 010913 00000

paris 2012 parrots in parc montsouris 010913 00003

paris 2012 parrots in parc mont sourris 121912 00000

paris 2012 parc montsourris parrot 123012 00000

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