November 11, 2009

Waiting


Not long ago I founds myself on a sidewalk in Seattle, waiting. We had plans to eat at Village Sushi but arrived a few minutes before they opened. The rest of my party stood on the stairs, hands in pockets. I took out my camera and started taking pictures of the restaurant and then the street outside and finally an interesting little weedy clump of flowers growing between the sidewalk and the street.

In this small space were twigs and weeds, lavender and daisies. Barely tended they intertwined while contrasting and supporting each other. The varying shapes, colors and textures playfully interacted in a way that was energizing and delightful. I considered this eclectic arrangement and snapped pictures until the restaurant opened and I was called inside.

The images that resulted are interesting. If i were painting the same image I would change it in a number of ways. I would never include the spent lavender bud, the quirky little dried twig or the ragged leaves yet they do lend authenticity to the portrait and prove that beauty does not require perfect composition or unblemished subjects to sparkle and have value. Without the surprising serendipity of a moment waiting I might never have considered the inspiring interaction of the narrow spikey lavender leaves in silvered green with the wide variegated leaves below them as a fitting backdrop to this gorgeous late season blossom.

As it turned out this brief pause with my camera set the perfect stage for the dinner to come. Village Sushi offered a lovely blend of traditional Japanese emphasis on presentation and quality with a casual U District indifference to detail and protocol. The dishes we ordered were served simply as they became ready, in great variety and without great ceremony. It was an inspiring wait and a beautiful meal.

November 1, 2009

Café du Grütli

Down the Escaliers du Marché from Notre Dame Cathedral in Lausanne, Switzerland, you will find Café du Grütli. It is a pleasant restaurant serving Swiss cuisine which one travel guide describes as a "venerable old tile-and darkwood brasserie in the heart of Old Town."

We found this restaurant in the twilight of our last evening in Lausanne. We wanted to eat like tourists tasting the fondue Switzerland is famous for. We were not disappointed. With the help of the waiter and the conversational crowd around us we had a wonderful meal in a charming atmosphere.

The atmosphere carried with us into the gathering darkness on the streets of the Old Town. As we left I captured this image. Just enough light falls from the indoor fixtures to illuminate the tables on the pavement outside and to offer a companionable glow to the setting.

This scene does not have enough light to make a good photograph. Details are lost and the setting remains dark in the image captured on my small camera. Yet by drawing out the shadows, turning up the color and flattening the details this image comes to life. Splashes of color convey the setting and the tone of the light emanating from the interior space sheds just enough illumination on the scene to suggest the casual elegance and conversational atmosphere of a warm evening under the hospitable awning of a European café.