Of treetops, lunacy, and laughter

Schiele's Little Tree

Well if my last post bordered on self-pity, my fantastic weekend certainly turned things around. I had a beautifully open two days which were spent doing quite a few of my favorite things. I had a lovely long walk on Saturday, complete with the exhibit at the NYPL on the dialogue between French artists and writers; lunch in Bryant Park, book browsing at The Strand, and an evening with La Dolce Vita.

I could write an entire entry on any one of those, but the combination has left me (almost) speechless with bookish happiness. I saw a first edition Nadja by Andre Breton; Mallarme illustrated by Manet (I'm sorry, just writing that phrase leaves me a bit giddy); Ernst photo-collages; and the most fantastic Magritte book-object complete with cut-outs and a strange half-jingle-bell stuck into cardboard.

At The Strand I picked up a cheap but long sought-after copy of Une Semaine de Bonte, allowing me to puzzle over bird-headed people, ladies gushing water, and sinister claws creeping out from behind tailcoats whenever I please.

I ended my evening with La Dolce Vita (in the fashion of my days as a librarian--though my last few weekends in NY have been uncharacteristically raucous). I was entranced from start to finish and have not been able to shake the vision of aristocracy ghost-hunting in the ancient villa.

Sunday began with Don Quixote, the largest book on my summer reading docket, which I'm going to say is the reason why I've put it off for so long. Why?! I spent the morning laughing in my apartment, and then laughing on the roof of my building as I read through the true hilarity of this book. I put The Knight of Sorrowful Coutenance aside for a bit as a trooped downtown to check out a pool.

I have a theory that if you're the athletic type and you spend your formative years learning to excel at one specific sport, you will never, ever leave that sport behind. I haven't swam in over a year but chlorine water flows as swiftly through my veins as it ever did. I've been craving a good long swim for a while now, and yesterday I found it. I joined NYHRC which has the most pools in the city (as far as I could research) and had myself a lovely, muscle-wearying swim.

It was divine, and left me in the highest of spirits for the rest of the afternoon.

And if that weren't enough to send me off to a merry week, I had yet another fantastic encounter. A beautiful bookstore boy, a friendly grey cat, and a new Italo Calvino: The Baron in the Trees...plus a whole slew of books ordered (so as to have a good excuse to return to the bookstore and visit with the aforementioned boy and cat).

I took my Calvino into the park and read beside a hedge full of gregarious chickadees as Cosimo established himself as a treetop dweller. A certain sort of, if not lunacy, then at least eccentricity that put me in a good mood as I thought of my fortuitous pairing of books.

Bosch's Ship of Fools

I returned to Don Quixote and laughed myself to sleep as I read through the funniest passage I have ever come across in a book-- the valorous engagement between Don Quixote and the herds of sheep.

I can't think of a better way to end a weekend.