El albergue

El albergue

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First impressions of a park

I spent this morning wandering around the Parque del Buen Retiro, which is just a couple of blocks away from the apartment I’m living in while here in Madrid.  Taking nothing with me but my keys, my phone, and a good book, I strolled through some of the many shady lanes, keeping mainly to the perimeter so that I could see as much as possible of this little paradise in the middle of the big city.  It kind of reminds me of a giant salad – the mixed greens of grass and various trees and shrubs peppered with convenient benches, salted with statues, dressed with splashing fountains, liberally sprinkled with dogs, and tossed with all kinds of people – old people, young people, children laughing, children crying, people running, people strolling, people biking, people rollerblading, people making out, people sun bathing, people sitting, people reading.  This seems to be where the entire city comes to get some exercise or hang out.  And I don’t blame them; it’s absolutely gorgeous.

One of my favorite spots that I came across today was more out of the way, in a walled section called Los Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez, an area that in itself could be called a large garden, but yet only forms a small part of the Retiro as a whole.  It has a gorgeous avenue of flowers and fountains surrounded by columns graced by winding vines and paths that lead off into quiet nooks, some of which reveal strutting peacocks, and all of which center around calming waterfalls or fountains.  There was one little corner in particular that I fell in love with; it felt almost as though I was in a sanctuary, a sacred and holy place.  Imagine the trees towering up all around against the backdrop of a soft blue sky touched with wisps of delicate cloud.  A veritable forest of flowering cannas is held at bay by a short hedge of boxwood.  In the back corners are twin waterfalls peeking demurely out from the hedges as they leisurely spill over into little pools covered with water lilies.  Go out a little farther into the checkerboard-paved space, and there is a large circular pond with water plants sprouting up around a whimsical fountain.  There are two shady benches on either side of the entrance to this sanctuary, the perfect place to sit and contemplate the beauty of the sky, the water, and the plants all around.  The dancing water in the two back ponds sends up entrancing reflections of light on the cannas bending over them, and closer inspection reveals morning glory twining its way through the giant stalks of cannas, adding their own sparkling white to the orange of the cannas flowers.  I sat on one of those benches for at least half an hour, thinking, observing, and communing with God in the peaceful morning light, my mind sometimes simply stopping and listening to the plash of the fountain as it playfully spouted water. 

A little bit further on in my stroll through the Retiro, I came across a concert of classical music!  La Banda Orqesta Municipal was playing in a gazebo, surrounded by crowds of people sitting in wooden folding chairs or on the grass underneath the shady trees.  The women all had their abánicos out, fanning themselves gently with these hand-held fans, as the day got warmer.  It was the perfect spot to sit and people watch and read a book…and the music was good too of course :) It was also entertaining to watch all the dogs that were attending the concert with their owners.  My attention was most often drawn to one particularly fuzzy little Eewok who was constantly straining to the very end of his leash, trying to move the anchor that was his mistress, who wasn’t going anywhere as she sat contentedly in a folding chair and listened to the music.  I think if I had been her, I would have been the same, occasionally bringing my dog back from the end of his leash so that he wouldn’t bother other people, but for the most part just sitting and enjoying the lovely music, the lovely day, and the lovely atmosphere that is El Retiro.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely day you had. Sounds so nice! Wish we could see it with you, but since we cam't, enjoy it for us also.