17 February 2008

Weekend Update – Dateline: Geneva

The Old City, viewed from the Lake:
A scale model in the Maison Tavel museum

I got back to Paris from Geneva around midnight on Friday. After some false starts, the trip turned out remarkably well, and I spent much of my time skipping around town taking pictures for this blog. This is behavior so unprecedented and extraordinary that it must be commented on. Taking pictures is like having babies or singing opera: I leave it to friends, who have aptitude, and thus far they achieve entirely satisfactory results without any help from me. Yet suddenly I’m clicking away. You may expect my Met debut, soon.

The weather was warm but the skies were hazy in Geneva. Much of the time, you couldn’t even see Mount Salève, which with two peaks, le Grand and le Petit, overlooks the city (from the French side of the border, actually). Trying to photograph the Jet d’Eau, a column of water that shoots 140 meters into the air at the point where the Rhône breaks free of Lac Léman, I was dissatisfied with the light. I resolved to come back in late afternoon, the “Golden Hour,” when the light would be better. Return I did, just like a real photographer. The light was fabulous. And the fountain was turned off.

High, draulic: the Jet d'Eau, in the best picture I could get
(Don’t those gulls know Switzerland is land-locked?)

Once I got home, I realized that I can’t really say much here about Geneva. I’m preparing an article for Opera News, and the best words must be saved for print. (You will simply have to subscribe to the magazine to find out what I write.)

My deadline is Monday, which is also the deadline to mail my application to renew my French residency. This is a deadline devoutly to be met, because it will mean I don’t have to wait on line at the Préfecture in the pre-dawn darkness. With two important deadlines bearing down on me, I haven’t panicked yet, though I’m planning to do so around six this evening.

Impossible though it may be to believe, I am resigned to missing a recital tonight by Susan Graham. Ordinarily I would do anything — leap over tall buildings, stop a speeding train, etc. — to hear her. But I can’t afford the time, or the risk that the time represents.

Instead, I am posting her picture here, as a kind of consolation, for as my mother once observed, Miss Graham’s smile may be more even lovelier than her voice.