Friday, May 8, 2015

Japanese garden

The Parc Oriental de Maulevrier is about an hour's drive from Angers. There were six of us who arrived for a visit. The park was created between 1899 and 1910 by Alexandre Marcel who was a celebrated landscape architect and an enthusiast of Asian design. Today it is the largest Japanese garden in Europe. We spent the whole afternoon following the red arrows as we wound our way around the central lake.

Spring is an exceptional time to visit.  The banks of azaleas were as striking from a distance as close up. They were bright mounds of color in the greens of spring. There were also many individual flowers in brilliant color. 

The bridge was also a bright point of interest. It was painted an "imperial red" which was almost orange.  It's reflection in the lake was striking.  The lake itself was fed and flowed out in streams and singing waterfalls.

The trees and bushes were sculpted with artistic care.  Some trees were pruned so that they were more transparent and easy to see through. Others were shaped into rounded balls.  But the most interesting were the trees that looked like the branches were plates balancing in the air. All types of trees were cut this way so the shapes and colors were endlessly varied.
The colors, shapes and sizes layered on one another in a most pleasing and unexpected way. At every turn in the sinuous and undulating paths, there was a new surprise, a different view, a changed perspective that delighted the eye. 

The surprises delighted us. We laughed and talked and spent a wonderful afternoon together.

After so much peace and calm in the afternoon, the evening around the table at Guy and Janick's was something else entirely. Nine of us gathered for Raclette even though the season had passed.  We had eaten many wonderful Raclette meals together before, but always during the winter. The traditional Raclette cheeses were no longer available so Janick had to search long and hard to find a cheese shop where the woman suggested good alternatives. The result was amazing. We ate well, and we drank well too.  The stories flowed; the memories flooded back. We laughed until we could laugh no more. Desserts were abundant and after the coffee we still kept going. It was after 1 in the morning when we headed home, and 2 a.m. when my head finally hit the pillow. I felt like a teenager and slept in until 10. 

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