What is the worth of a real quiet, meditative time? The worth of an almost perfect silence, not the noisy background that keeps my ears alert and awake even in the night, in New York. I found silence in a small town near Paris, and in an island off of the coast of Vendée, the Ile d’Yeu or Ile-Dieu, (the translation is Isle of God, well named), with rocks and sands and winds and sea, nearly deserted from cold weather, but utterly romantic and peaceful even in the storm, with clear night skies with haloed moon and bright constellations.

Ile d'Yeu, France

When I hear my New York sounds the noises become music; but what if there is no noise to speak of, except for maybe a solitary bird whose singing is not pretty, among the little white houses with colorfully painted shutters, originally from mixes of left-over boat paint yielding an infinity of shades of blues and greys with the occasional iconoclastic yellow or red. What is the worth of watching a solitary donkey grazing in a field and listening to his loud ha haa, of walking into a deserted, tiny chapel, impeccably clean with its modern stain glass…

I went away in search of music that does not exist. I found it in my head when less crowded with urgent matters. I even ventured briefly with the holiday crowds descending the Champs Elysées gaily decorated with pink banners against the sad grey skies. An incursion to the newly built Museum of the Quai Branly (which boasts a collection of international art)  revealed a new construction by architect Jean Nouvel who never ceases to amaze – quite a departure from the Musee du Monde Arabe he designed some twenty years ago.

Jean Nouvel's Quai Branly Museum near Eiffel Tower

Fermette Marbeuf

I spent a couple of evening hours at the Louvre, teeming with endless crowds of all tongues – the museum catalogue exists in about fifty different languages. I did not make the pilgrimage to the Mona Lisa as I was advised that it is now covered with a plastic shield of sorts which apparently prevents any real appreciation, along with theft. I only visited more obscure paintings of various part of Europe and discovered the original of VerMeer’s LaceMaker to be a very small, square-shaped painting and not as spectacular as its reproductions led me to believe. On the other hand, the Fermette Marbeuf restaurant with its 1910 original designs of peacocks, sunflowers and billowy maidens (some by Bartoldy who gave us the Statue of Liberty -  in fact there is a smaller version of it by a bridge in Paris) was a real find. I went away with few expectations and even though at times I was cold and wet, I come back with a spark of some new music. Happy 2010!

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