our terrace and a cousin

May 24, 2010

Our terrace has eight dwellings; it’s set one block back from the sea front and only accessed by steps at each end which causes problems for the increasing number of deliveries (can’t find us), rubbish collections and those who’ve a had a little bit too much of the bottle etc. Our rear gardens are vertiginous as set into the cliff side. Most of us have small patches to garden along our side of the path, and, a few of us have started to take ownership of the other side too. At the west end, cellars and workshop below ground mean nos 7 + 8 rely on pots and a cornucopia of containers for vegetation. This is our immediate landscape at macro scale.

Early evening, yesterday, looking east. I always thought this terrace was quite unique and had admired its particular character long before moving here but, in Valparaiso, I discovered the cousin. Picture taken early afternoon last December – so just before full height of summer.

Most of us experiment with colour for the facades with varying degrees of success. Colours fade to something weak and pathetic within months due in part to the south-facing aspect – the door of no 2, a case in point!  The cousin, which I think is near Paseo Gervasoni and Atkinson (neither C, nor I, can remember accurately), has been given a rather beautiful swish through the colour palette. And  just take a look at the east -facing rear where the colours remain all singing and dancing! Cabling, laced and looped overhead was very noticeable in the areas of Chile that I visited . . .

but, hey, we can do cabling too (opposite nos 3 + 4)!  And our views of the sea stack up as well . . .

and just a few details from no 8 . .

. . and no 7 . . .

. . and poppies at no 6  . .

. . and aquilegias and chives at no 5 . .

. . and fennel at no 4 with a mix of softness on the other side of the path . . .

. . aquilegias at no 3 and also the bluebells rampant this year where the bed is quite wide  . .

. . and Gladiolus byzantinus out this morning at no 2 and some stones . .  and, as this post is also about Valparaiso, a little piece of Neruda too (Adioses or Goodbyes), just for me.

Goodbye, goodbye, to one place or another,
to every mouth, to every sorrow,
to the insolent moon, to weeks
which wound in the days and disappeared,
goodbye to this voice and that one stained
with amaranth, and goodbye
to the usual bed and plate,
to the twilight setting of all goodbyes,
to the chair that is part of the same twilight,
to the way made by my shoes.

I spread myself, no question;
I turned over whole lives,
changed skin, lamps, and hates,
it was something I had to do,
not by law or whim,
more of a chain reaction;
each new journey enchained me;
I took pleasure in places, in all places.

And, newly arrived, I promptly said goodbye
with still newborn tenderness
as if the bread were to open and suddenly
flee from the world of the table.
So I left behind all languages,
repeated goodbyes like an old door,
changed cinemas, reasons, and tombs,
left everywhere for somewhere else;
I went on being, and being always
half undone with joy,
a bridegroom among sadnesses,
never knowing how or when,
ready to return, never returning.

It’s well known that he who returns never left,
so I traced and retraced my life,
changing clothes and planets,
growing used to the company,
to the great whirl of exile,
to the great solitude of bells tolling.  Pablo Neruda

2 Responses to “our terrace and a cousin”


  1. The Valparaiso house colours make we want to rush out and purchase a bag of sugared almonds. Delicious.

    My friend Philippa Robbins has been making a wonderfully evocative series of paintings of wires seen against the sky, and I too at one time delighted in making paintings and drawings that included telephone poles askew along country lanes, with cables swagged decoratively between them. But interestingly we took exception to the excessive rigging of wires, power and telephone, at Ty Isaf, and had the lot removed and laid in trenches. We had to live with the ones that swing up the drive, but had them buried just at the point where it turns up to the house. (The wires up the drive for the most part vanish in the tree canopies in Summer.)

    Love the soft violets and plums against the sharp greens of the plantings in your photographs. Chive and aquilegia and spears of gladioli. Glad too that I’m not the only one with dandelion clocks springing in my herbaceous borders! They’re such pretty things when they send their children off to colonise on a puff of wind.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    The thing I like most about this little landscape is that it’s so transitory – plants come and go of their free will, well, that’s not totally true as those with four legs, cats, foxes and staffies invade the areas of earth. Neighbours all try hard to establish a little of their own preferences. I wait to see how the spread of ground elder will be dealt with . . . but personally I like it. What is a weed and what is not?
    All individual patches and hopefully, that’s the way it’ll stay.


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