Miniatures From Bucharest

Statuary art gallery in open airIn Bucharest, there are lots of boulevards, streets, buildings that have become so familiar to us that we almost no longer see their beauty, originality, uniqueness... It is like being in the middle of an enchanting park that you admire, without feeling the need to stop in front of a particular tree with a round crown or in front of a flower bed with rare flowers. But it is enough that somebody draw your attention to a single detail, and your eyes make you acknowledge that novel still frame, so necessary to frame the truth that in this way acquires the characteristics of a revealing surprise. For example: did you know that one of the main streets in Bucharest, the one that passes through the middle of the metropolis, from east to west – could be called "Statue Avenue"? Along this central axis, that is best known for its volume of traffic, there are many statuary works which, apart from their symbolic value, are genuine works of art. A brief review of these bronze, marble and granite statues carries our imagination and feelings back through history and culture, in the arts and sciences, from atop their pedestals, thrust, with strong roots in the ground, meeting us with faces that bear the auras of time and legend: Mihai Viteazul, Mihail Kogalniceanu, Gheorghe Lazar, Ioan Heliade Radulescu, C. A. Rosetti, Spiru Haret, Carol Davila, Nicolae Paulescu, George Enescu... Pache Protopopescu... And this genuine art gallery in open air, a Bucharest axis of beauty, bears the signature of some of the most famous Romanian sculptors, like Ioan Georgescu, Oscar Han, Carol Storck, or Ion Jalea. Vegetable flashlightsIt has been a few years since, on the branches of the trees in Herastrau Park in Bucharest, the squirrels started to give their true performances: black-brownish, with long tails and seemingly thicker than those of their relatives from the mountains, they agilely climb up to the top of the plane trees, chestnut trees and oaks to dive into the air, wanting to scare us, or maybe, to make us admire their acrobatic agility. If you are not ready to offer them crackers or waffles, they mock you, juggling, as in the circus, with several acorns that they take out of the hollows of the welcoming trees. Where have they come from? How did they get here? Probably (and it should not surprise us), they set out from the mountains, from fir tree to fir tree, from beech to beech, to delight us with their vividness and friendship. But, a true oddity, this time of an ornithological nature, is represented by the fact that, over the waters of the Dambovita which became young again, seagulls have appeared. This can be considered a premiere, because although these birds from one of the three families in the Lari suborder, could have visited us even ten or fifty years ago, given that there have always been lakes full of fish in these parts. But they patiently waited for us to clear up the waters of the Dambovita, to drop on them the blue of the clear sky and to refresh them with transparent oxygen bubbles. So, the seagulls have started to fly over Bucharest... How far to the flamingo birds, with red feather fans on their wings?
Autumnal nostalgia
Autumn in Bucharest is a sparkling symbol of beauty: with trees bathed in copper, with the red and white and yellow firework games of the dahlias in parks, with sun dust glazing the facades of the apartment buildings on the big boulevards. True, sometimes rain floods the city with its liquid grey, but from midday till midnight, from dawn till dusk, the gold of the light flows suddenly and generously over the 1000 square kilometers on which the capital lies, highlighting, gingerly and minutely, even the tiniest details of the fortress: the harmony of the nuances of the new buildings, the diligence of the children picking up hedgehog-chestnuts, the busy bees, spectacularly plunging into the nectar of the late autumn bindweed, the round leaves like coins rolling out from the thesaurus-crowns of the trees, the seagulls, not at all lost, swimming in the clear (and now certainly sweet) waters of the blue Dambovita. In autumn Bucharest is born again, from the superb cityscape of buildings – a sign of our vocation for construction – to the autumn rustle of nature that surrounds us, always fresh and colorful... and then, there is also the continuous durable ageless rebirth in which the potential of creative energies are naturally woven with the authentic renewal of the people. Talent, minuteness, diligenceFrom the Old Court, whose vestiges, colonnades and vaults are tightly interwoven with time, streets take you, to one side – towards the crystal present of Dambovita which became young, like in a fairy tale, and to the other side – towards, as I can see on a shop sign, "The Glassmakers' Court": a living emblem of a trade that comes from a far away past of talent, minuteness and diligence. The craftsmen of Bucharest have always tied their destiny to imagination. Since ancient times, from "The Glassmakers' Court", the crystal waves of molten silicon started on their way in all directions, a compelling sign of the skill and of the generous investment of talent in many generations of master glassmakers. I have convinced myself of this natural and accessible truth watching that apparently simple, but actually fantastic dance of incandescent glass. Set in frames, or only caressed by the diaphanous breath of the master, it immediately takes the desired form, becoming globe, barrel, pipe, wand, leaf or transparent flower. The glassmaker, affable, waits only for the sign, and the miracle unfolds on the spot. Only in Murano, the famous town near Venice, are there such workshops in open air, but the masters from "The Glassmakers' Court" seemed to me as good. Bucharest, I have to admit it, still has many pure, delicate secrets like glass waiting to be discovered. Translated by Ştefania Tarbu

by Iuliu Raţiu (1930-2009)