Trees galore. And some sights.

It’s hard to find a place without any trees in Berlin, they’re everywhere, even important buildings like Humboldt University in what used to be East-Berlin – the Berlin featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain, a place much less horrid than the film, he must have been drugged throughout the entire production, or even at the time when he was reading the script, why would anyone shoot such a boring mess, anyone, I ask you, but I wildly digress – anyway, even this architectural gem is partially covered in leaves and blossoms of a majestic chestnut tree, actually, all of Berlin is covered in trees, up and down every place and street, they’re flourishing so opulently you can’t make out the trunk at times. I wonder who planned this urban jungle, some green spirit way ahead of its time – whoever he was, I proposed a toast to him today, with my little bird friend and my soy caffè latte venti at a very treed Starbucks.

Transporting trees.

This is a true story. Picture it, Zurich, January 2017, I had just made my mind up to leave Zurich for good and was looking for a place in Berlin, which turned out to be way more difficult than I thought, but that’s another story, anyway, facing the fact that I not only had to look for an apartment but for an apartment with a balcony, a spacious one at that as I was the proud owner of three big olive trees, two huge palm trees and one very small Japanese maple tree, I felt a certain degree of despair growing inside me. As lamenting one’s fate has never produced a solution, any, never, I tried not to and started looking out for some help in case I’d end up balconyless – and thus my parents’ garden came to mind. So, I stuck the Japanese maple tree with its terracotta pot in my Freitag bag, not so much a Sophie’s Choice kind of story as I just had to pick the one most likely to survive the trip, made it to Zurich main station and boarded the next train destined for Germany. My co-travellers during the following seven hours showed some mixed emotions, some found me lovely, I seemed to embody nature’s saviour, surely all of them Green Party enthousiasts, some hated me fiercely for my somewhat space demanding endeavour, strangely neither the Swiss nor the German train attendants interfered in any way, reinforcing my trust in mankind. Both the tree and I made it home safely, it never made it to my Berlin balcony though, it got planted in my parents’ garden, as for the olive trees, their trip is a totally different story…

The royal pleasures of summer.

I’ve had enough of it. One more morning to greet me with a grey sky, and I’ll shoot someone, but the joke would be on me, there aren’t any people in the streets, they’re all at home, overcuddling their dogs, as a compensation mechanism, some kind of seasonal displacement activity, overdosing on cookies won’t help any longer, you started that in October, anyway, I can’t stand it any longer, it’s so depressing. I’ve tried to walk the splendid gardens of Charlottenburg Palace to put me in a better mood, one of the royal Prussian residences in my direct neighbourhood, but it didn’t help much, turns out, all that splendour, all that rococo, all that abundance, all that gold and turquoise, all these shades of green, all that chinoiserie, all of it does need some light to shine, too, turns out, it’s just “Bonjour, tristesse” in winter. But I shall be patient, I’ll wait, I’ll endure this rotten season of greyish dullness, I’ll just need some more egg noggs to nogg me out till summer’s back.

A summer in the garden.

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I’ve spent summers in all of the Mediterranean, and however beautiful it is, none of them compared to a summer in my parents’ garden, not even the sea, although, who am I kidding here, the sea, I do miss, but having breakfast in a hotel, lying on a beach or at a pool, next to people draping their labeled belongings around themselves like an Egyptian pharaoh in his tomb, clinging to their bank accounts, their status is on display 24/7, all year, over-symbolized, logomania in extremis, but no heaven lies ahead here, deadly sinners, all of them, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for logomaniacs to enter the kingdom of God, yes, I’m a Catholic, no thanks, that’s not for me, at least not this year. My Hermès beach towels are off duty, I couldn’t relax anyway, I have to trim something in that garden left to my mother’s devices, planned as an urban jungle, too many trees, too much ivy, too much of everything, lush, overly lush, beautifully lush, hydrangeas emerging from unindentifiable green masses, roses emerge everywhere from ivy, so richly blooming they look like a bouquet, but before I trim something, I’ll look out for some shade, under an apple tree, or the walnut tree, or whatever tree appears inviting…

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Simone Signoret, Yves Montand and I.

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Paris is known for its lovers. There were plenty over the centuries as you can probably guess, dozens and hundreds, more or less famous ones, some even made it on the screen, Ninotchka and Count Léon d’Algout, for example. My favourite couple, however, is a real life one that made it into the movies nonetheless: Simone Signoret and Yves Montand, these glorious French actors. They made fabulous films, they drank and smoked, she won an Oscar, he betrayed her with Marilyn Monroe, and most importantly, they had an apartment on 15, Place Dauphine, on the loveliest square in all of Paris, it’s kind of secluded, but you always sense where you are: right in the middle of Paris. Each time I’m there, I pay them a visit, come rain or shine, I stroll by the Seine or cross the Tuileries, depends on where I come from, Rive Gauche or Rive Droite, I cross the Pont Neuf, my favourite bridge in the world, as the square lies on an island in the Seine, the Île de la Cité, just like Notre Dame, and there I am, happy as a child, lingering for quite some time, it’s a perfect spot for a coffee, too. The old chestnut trees were replaced some years ago, at first it looked a bit sad, these little ones couldn’t measure up to the old ones who might still have seen Simone and Yves leaving the house for cigarettes or an invitation to dinner some place fancy, but they’ve grown a bit, and the last time I visited Place Dauphine, I started looking forward to growing old with them.

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