Year of Grace, Day 57. A walk through Südstadt

There are days that are full of delight for all the senses, and yesterday’s walk through Südstadt was one such. It was the annual Artists’ Open House in this charming historical quarter of Bonn. It was drizzling when I left home with M but by mid-afternoon, the sun – a rather watery one – came out and lightly tipped the trees with heightened colour.

This part of Bonn reminds me so much of Leamington’s Victorian and Georgian architecture, even the interiors – the narrow entryways and stairwells, the carved wooden banisters, soaring ceilings – that with their subdued lighting bestow on everything and everyone there a romantic chiaroscuro effect. There were canvases depicting clouds over the sea, pastels of watery scenes à la Monet but with a different colour palette, mixed media detailing bits of rust on ironmongery, prints and aquarelles of leaves, and collages of handmade paper and dried leaves – all a delicious feast of inspiration for the eye and the soul.

I found the most engaging and charming works were those of the ceramicists. At the first venue, garden snails – a bit larger than those that gorge on my plants and slightly smaller than those that end up on your plate of escargots – playfully featured on vases and statuettes. I was especially taken by the artist’s personal display in small cubicles – a tanuki (Japanese badger); a hina ningyo – a classic Japanese display doll for Girls’ Day, not the modern type with their chubby faces; Indonesian masksnot for sale and not made by the artist him or herself — I assume this eclectic collection feeds the artist’s imagination as they did mine. I hankered after my similar ones in storage in Leamington. Downsizing is a worthwhile and noble concept and I do like the simplicity of minimalism, but oh, sometimes, how I long to have some of my beloved pieces around me…

At the second ceramicists’ venue, again there were whimsical pieces – several reminded me of Mycenean figurines. There were two plates that struck my fancy – a small one with a glaze of blues and greens, as if of an underwater scene of waving algae. The larger one, suitable for serving food — I can envision bits of this and that on it — had a copper oxide glaze of swirling greens. I was assured by the lady potter that it would be safe to put food on it. I fell in love with those two.

Past the weir that runs around one side of the Bonn Botanical Garden, the leaves made lovely patterns in the water, with the pale setting sun behind them. A late lunch or very early supper at Tuscolo downtown, just behind the Münster, capped the day. We were seated in the “train” section – complete with traditional luggage racks, including vintage suitcases (!) and little gas lamps. So quaint!

I had a full view of one part of the open kitchen and one of the cooks — the one with a red beret (it made him look quite French), very relaxed and calmly going about his work with none of the ulcer-causing intensity that many performing cooks seem to take on. He would take a pinch of this or take a step away and take a pinch of that – no fuss made, no wasted effort, and no self-consciousness of being on stage. I took comfort at the sight of his prodigious enbonpoint — attesting to his own perhaps unabashed appetite. I loved seeing the flames fly up as he drizzled wine or other alcohol into whatever it was he was preparing. I do like the informal atmosphere at Tuscolo – the waiters and other staff – all of those you pass as you are led to your seat — greet you “Buona Sera!” in the same manner that staff at a Japanese restaurant would heartily say “Irasshaimase”. And the same when you leave – even the cooks joining in smiling with “Arrivederci!”

A leisurely walk through a gracious and endearing part of Bonn, a cornucopia of aesthetic delights that inspired and pleased my eyes and heart and lifted my spirits, the sun coming out to bless the day, a nice simple meal in convivial surroundings and dear company – for all that have made my day an extraordinary and satisfying one, I am grateful.

2 thoughts on “Year of Grace, Day 57. A walk through Südstadt

  1. Your collage of photographs was as colorful and lovely as your prose. I felt special delight when you pointed out the similarities between the Japanese and Italian ways of greeting customers at a restaurant. When the differences are obvious to the eye, it is much more intimate and inspiring to notice the small things that are similar between cultures that are thousands of miles apart.


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