Saturday, June 10, 2006

From Here to There ~ Part I

In three and one-half weeks, if all goes well, I will be hopping on a plane to, eventually, Paris (two days at Chartres included) and, ultimately, the small island of Iona off the northwest coast of Scotland.

I've been collecting but not reading books on all my destinations -- this afternoon I finally organized them into various piles on the dining room table, so that as the school year winds down I can get started.

In the meantime, I have, quite by surprise, found a new friend and guide in the person of
Wayne, a retired high school teacher who works three days a week as a docent in the tiny chapel sitting above one of the lakes in the cemetery where I walk. I met
him two weeks ago and discovered that he is an encyclopedia of information -- he has clearly spent years researching his chapel and, like me, he loves to travel and sent his children off to see the world, with the result that his daughter now works in Paris and his son in Quito. He and his wife will be visiting their daughter in the fall and, by the time we finished talking two weeks ago, I had convinced him, I think, to add another week and a trip to Mount St. Michel to their itinerary.

I went back today to get some more information on the chapel's Tiffany window, The Flight of Souls, since I remembered Wayne mentioning that it differs significantly from my beloved
Chartres windows. He spent half an hour explaining to me the process by which Mr. Tiffany created his colored glass, using heat, oxides, and metals to create colors that swam and varied across sheets of glass, from which the shapes were then cut. His critics argued that he was creating "accidental" and, therefore, not valid art, but he was struck by the qualities of impressionist paintings and was seeking to create similar effects in glass that would enable more light to pass through the windows than makes it through the solid colored glass typical of Gothic cathedrals.

I am somewhat intimidated. The cemetery chapel is tiny indeed, and there is so much to learn from its window, mosaics, furnishings, and structure. I can't imagine how I am going to handle Chartres, Notre Dame, and St. Chapelle.


Lisa :-] said...

Good lord, that is just gorgeuos. And, of course, the story behind it is fascinating. I would have a cropped bit of that pic for my wallpaper, for sure...

While you are improving your mind and resting your soul in Europe, I will be slaving away behind the counter of my own little business. I think we will both be indulging our fondest fantasies...

Think of me!

Globetrotter said...

Those windows are drop dead gorgeous! Did you see the tiffany windows in the dining hall of Flagler College when you went to St. Augustine? They're stunning but I like these in your little chapel on the lake much better.

St. Chappelle was a lovely little church but I was more struck by the incredible feeling of utter antiquity in the tiny courtyard outside the church than by all those windows. Maybe I'm weird. I recall that the first time I entered Notre Dame, (the one in Paris) I began sobbing inexpicably without any warning. There was a feeling of utter and complete holiness in that place that I have never experienced before or since. I'll never forget it. I had the opposite experience when I visited the Notre Dame in Strasbourg. Something felt wrong with the place, and if I recall correctly I think it is the oldest Notre Dame in France. It's never been entirely completed because rumor has it that the devil inhabits the place. I should post some photos of it on Flicker. It's very creepy.

You're upcoming trip sounds wonderful! I can't wait to start traveling again, and the isle of Iona is someplace that I want to see someday. Have fun with your preparations:)

peripateticpolarbear said...

I'm going to Chartres in a few weeks, too! But I have only one day. I can't decide exactly what I want to see, there. I once took a course that devoted 9 weeks to Chartres. I wish I still had the notes!

Julia said...

you were right to tell your new friend to make time for Mont St. Michel; I spent a semester in Paris a hundred years ago and that side trip is one of the things I remember best.

sunflowerkat119 said...

It's fascinating to me that Tiffany was criticized for "accidental art". What a happy accident it is!

Your trip sounds incredible. I'll be looking forward to the stories and photos you return with.

Judith said...

One of my biggest disappointments is not being able to visit Chartres during my trip. I studied the history, art, and architecture of the fabulous cathedral, and could probably even draw you a plan of it.