notes from an urban hibernation

Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn

…and so progress unceasingly

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Remembering to write about the Porte Walks is different than walking the Porte Walks.  We have walked nineteen of them so far, but have not written about them all.  Since we are walking the walks in no specific order I guess it is equally okay to write about them in any old order too.

Porte St. Mande (No.16) was not written about because it was a particularly uneventful and rather dull walk.  It started to rain very shortly after we started walking and neither of us had worn rain jackets nor taken umbrellas.  We walked in a steady drizzle through not very interesting neighbourhoods. When we arrived in an area with some shops, I stopped and bought a small cheap umbrella, which Simon quickly took over for his personal use.  It was not possible to share the same umbrella while walking on the narrow streets.  I continued to walk without a coat, without an umbrella and without a hat. I arrived home thoroughly wet and thoroughly cross with myself for not having worn my raincoat.  I arrived home thoroughly cross with Simon for being selfish enough to hog the umbrella.  It is no wonder I did not bother to write about this walk. The best thing about it was that it was one of the shorter walks.

Porte de Montreuil (No.17) was the first walk where we had someone else walking with us.  It was a crisp, cold day and the three of us enjoyed zig zagging through the 20th arrondissement together.  There was so much to enjoy that we stopped often to discuss buildings and streets or shops, and to have yet another coffee.

We entered the cemetery at Pére La Chaise of a small alley which led to a wide opened wooden door and a steep half broken stone staircase.  I thought we would take this opportunity to look at some specific graves but without a map in hand, it was more bother than pleasure to seek out the dead.  Instead, we just strolled along on our way through the cemetery looking at the various horizontal and vertical stone structures in the bright sunshine.  We were stopped frequently by people asking directions for the grave of Oscar Wilde or for any number of other famous graves or for the nearest metro.

The grave of Allen Kardec was heavily covered with bouquets and potted plants. It was busy with colour.  It was so busy we had to stop and look even though we had no idea who Allen Kardec was. He had died in 1869 so it was not a recent death nor a centennial being celebrated.  Little pennants had these words in English and in French: “To be born, die, again be reborn, and so progress unceasingly, such is the law.” The same words were carved in the stone.  Kardec was a philosopher and spiritualist.  I looked him up after the walk but I still do not know why his following is so actively and effusively decorating his grave in February of this year.  Perhaps this activity continues unceasingly too.

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2014 by .
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