Today, it has arrived, for sure. The breeze fluttering the white bedroom curtains was cool, almost cold, and for the first time in months I put on my fleece jacket for the ride up to the studio.
Last night I walked home around 6 pm. It was still warm, and raining lightly, but the air and the light had changed; unmistakable. I went down rue Cartier past the community vegetable garden, where I startled a fat black cat, and caught him in my lens, and then across Marie-Anne and down de Bordeaux. On the walls of Ecole Jeanne-Mance ivy was growing in ovoid patterns like poplars, and I ended up walking around the empty building, where only a few lights shone in upper windows -- a custodian working late in a hallway, perhaps -- taking photographs. The dated concrete structure and grassy, man-made berms planted with ornamental grasses reminded me of the Olympic stadium, a few kilometers to the east: a combination of abandonment and extensiveness that carried within its neglect and decay the sound of crowds, of young voices, and the way the hectares of poured concrete were slowly being cracked by the roots and climbing fingers of living things.
This school had once been the parochial school for Eglise Immaculée-Conception, which stands in front of it facing Papineau Boulevard, one side now shrouded in green netting and criss-crossed with scaffoding for the construction of a new roof. I waited for the light and crossed into the park, where I entered the trees.
(the sign in the second picture in the series above reads "Entrée des élèves: Students' entrance")
Today, while working on a large design job with a lot of tedious details, I decided to listen to some music, and put on my headphones. For several seemingly unrelated reasons, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde has come into my consciousness in the past few days. I don't own a recording, and spent a bit of time reading recommendations. Eventually I listened to an old one, on YouTube: Leonard Bernstein conducting the Israel Symphony Orchestra, with the magnificent Christa Ludwig, contralto, and René Kollo, tenor. My first Mahler recording was the 1st symphony, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. That was when I was young myself, full of the emotion and excitement I heard in Mahler's music. Now -- approaching autumn -- Mahler touches me for different reasons. After I listened to all of the movements -- Ludwig's haunting "Ewig...ewig..." at the end of "Der Abschied/The Farewell" -- I read the original Chinese poems from which Mahler adapted his text, and then the text itself. The poet waits for his friend to arrive, the friend to whom he wants to bid a last farewell, but the friend is late...We leave the poet holding his lute, still alone, but transfixed by the beauty of the world, "the eternal, love-intoxicated world."
The sun departs behind the mountains.
In all the valleys, evening descends
with its cooling shadows.
O look! Like a silver boat,
the moon floats on the blue sky-lake above.
I feel the fine wind wafting
behind the dark spruce.
The brook sings loudly through the darkness.
The flowers stand out palely in the twilight.
The earth breathes, full of peace and sleep,
and all yearning wishes to dream now.
Weary men go home,
to learn in sleep
forgotten happiness and youth.
The birds crouch silently in their branches.
The world is asleep!
It blows coolly in the shadows of my spruce.
I stand here and wait for my friend;
I wait to bid him a last farewell.
I yearn, my friend, at your side
to enjoy the beauty of this evening.
Where do you tarry? You leave me alone for so long!
I wander up and down with my lute,
on paths swelling with soft grass.
O beauty! O eternal love - eternal, love-intoxicated world!
Die Sonne scheidet hinter dem Gebirge.
In alle Täler steigt der Abend nieder
Mit seinen Schatten, die voll Kühlung sind.
O sieh! Wie eine Silberbarke schwebt
Der Mond am blauen Himmelssee herauf.
Ich spüre eines feinen Windes Wehn
Hinter den dunklen Fichten!
Der Bach singt voller Wohllaut durch das Dunkel.
Die Blumen blassen im Dämmerschein.
Die Erde atmet voll von Ruh und Schlaf,
Alle Sehnsucht will nun träumen.
Die müden Menschen gehn heimwärts,
Um im Schlaf vergeßnes Glück
Und Jugend neu zu lernen!
Die Vögel hocken still in ihren Zweigen.
Die Welt schläft ein!
Es wehet kühl im Schatten meiner Fichten.
Ich stehe hier und harre meines Freundes;
Ich harre sein zum letzten Lebewohl.
Ich sehne mich, o Freund, an deiner Seite
Die Schönheit dieses Abends zu genießen.
Wo bleibst du? Du läßt mich lang allein!
Ich wandle auf und nieder mit meiner Laute
Auf Wegen, die vom weichen Grase schwellen.
O Schönheit! O ewigen Liebens - Lebenstrunkne Welt!