Skip to main content

A Palace, a Promise, and an Empty Canvas

In the morning, before the crowds arrive, Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace and the park behind it belong to the early birds: ducks, chattering in Neptune's Fountain; slugs, slimy and rust colored, making their way across the empty paths; gardeners, plucking weeds, working silently with rakes and hoes. Serenity reigns. My early morning Schönbrunn is an empty canvas. In that sense it is like other morning destinations, not different from the places in L.A. where I used to run off the night and enjoy the promise of a new day. For all I know it is not even different from Canaletto's early morning Schönbrunn 250 years ago. (In the image shown Canaletto depicts the gardens as busy, but by the look of the shadows he was painting in the afternoon.)

The first buses arrive before nine a.m., earlier in the summer. Tourists swarm out by the dozens. From their guides they hear about Empress Maria Theresa under whose reign Schönbrunn Palace as we know it was finished in the 18th century. They are told about the many Hapsburgs who lived here after her, learn that Schönbrunn has been on the UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage List since 1996. They draw their cameras. Click, click, click. The canvas fills.

Comments

Lorraine Seal said…
Christina

I love this snapshot of the moment in time, beauty of the place poised as on a fulcrum between stillness and busy-ness.

Lorraine
Lorraine -

Thank you. I miss Schoenbrunn, my morning walks in the park, even the smell of zoo...

Popular posts from this blog

Visions of Editors: How Good Stories Go to Waste

Recently I stumbled upon Visions of Mary, a war story by Joseph Richardson. The book begins in a present day emergency room in Tennessee: A physician, a good guy who takes his work seriously, fights to establish the identity of a man who was found wandering about in a snow storm. The M.D.'s questions bring up memories of World War II in the disoriented patient. Thanks to the lost man's recollections we eventually learn that he is Colonel John Stone, an American war hero. The colonel tells the physician how he enlisted and became a pilot, how he married his sweetheart, Mary, and how he almost died when the Japanese shot down his plane, the "China Doll," in the last months of the war. After the attack, Stone and his men found themselves on a raft in the middle of a shark infested nowhere called the Pacific. Without food, water and radio connection their death seemed imminent. The men's fight for survival is where the book turns exciting: plunged into this crisis,

Lyman, Whitford, Reality Check: A Career in the West Wing?

On a chilly Sunday night in February two young girls in jeans and light blouses were standing in front of the artists' entrance of one of two local art theaters in Pasadena, California. The pathway beyond the barrier, an iron gate, was barely lit. It stayed empty for a long time while the girls, shifting weight from one foot to the other, chatted and giggled. After a while a figure emerged from the shadows. The girls fell silent but it was the wrong actor. When the right man, Bradley Whitford, finally appeared he was wearing a bicycle helmet pushed way up on his forehead. Whitford is best known for playing Josh Lyman in the TV series  The West Wing   but on that night he had performed in the Pasadena Playhouse's production of Yasmina Reza’s   Art.  The girls stopped the actor, told him about their social studies class and how the teacher would have them watch The West Wing.  Whitford smiled, asked, "Which school is it?" and autographed the two print-outs the girls

Solid Rock, Human Transience (The Huntington 2)

Organic blend: Chinese garden at the Huntington The Chinese garden at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino (L.A. county) is a magical place. It blends the man-made and the natural, architecture with trees, straight lines and curves, all in an organic way. Last week, as I was wandering the cobbled paths of the garden I decided to take a closer look at some of the rocks. I got to my knees, admired the shades of white and grey, the undertones of purple, green, and red; I let my hand glide over the limestone's spurs, cracks, and sharp edges, felt the coolness of the rock against my skin, its enduring solidity against my human transience - and decided to look up some facts. Spurs and cracks: 50 Chinese stone workers flew in to carve the stone Transplants in L.A.: 850 tons of rock The limestone rocks in the Huntington's Chinese garden are transplants. They were imported from Lake Tai in the Yangtze Delta in China. Acc