MONACO IS A GARDEN

 The Casino Gardens in Monaco - all palm leaves and green water.

 

Monaco is not a town

it is secretly a garden,

interwoven with some buildings.

...


NOTES FROM MY DIARY

 

I never knew I cared so much about clothing, until I left to Europe with only two tops, one pair of pants, two thermal leggings, a jacket and hat and one pair of snuggly winter boots.

Those clothes, they sheltered me through the Icelandic gales, and the Finnish nights, and the Croatian Bura, and all manner of other harsh winter weather. I am endlessly grateful for merino and those beautiful wooly sheep of my homelands, for they have saved my life many times over.

I loved the freedom of not caring - the muddy feet, tangled mermaid hair, and the mornings when I wouldn't have to change at all - staying in my rumpled sleeping warmth till the sun came up, and jackets came off.

But at a certain point I just felt that I needed MORE than practicality...
I need expression!
I need sensuality!

...

Oliver and I left to travel Europe in search of our own limits as humans. We wanted to know how far we could go, and how little we could live without. This experiential experiment was one of the greatest moves I have ever made. I found that I need very little in life, that I can live in any form of shelter, as long as I am warm enough, (and sometimes I can live with no shelter at all). I found that I do not need over than half my belongings - and I gave these away. But I still need healthful, nourishing food and good books. I found that, above all, I value company. I had always thought I was a lonely person, and happy with it. But loneliness, true loneliness was tough, and I longed for human connections. Oliver felt this way too, and we were most blissful when we made friendships with special souls on the road, or during those random moments of interaction with some interesting human being.

But never did I think that I would miss my clothing.


I have conflicting sets of paradigms, when it comes to clothing - on the one hand I used to pour myself into books about fashions; from the Sumerians to the Victorians, I loved it all. From the age of twelve I dreamt of studying fashion, and at age 18 I followed my dreams, for a short while.

However, there was also that part of me that read Buddhist books cover to cover, soaking in the words of wise sages who spoke of sacrificing all material possessions. In many ways, I thought, and still think, there is a point to this. That possessions are not where we can place our happiness, like eggs in a basket. That they are empty and meaningless, until we give them meaning.

But then I decided to go and test these words and ideas, before taking them for granted. I felt I needed to know for myself. I wanted to find the edges of my being - who I am, what I am made of, what I need, and what I want.

For so long I had been ignoring this last one: what I want.

I thought, "who cares what I want, when there are so many 'should's' in this world." I thought only of what I 'should' want... Traveling in austerity stopped me in my tracks, as I realised the importance of my own desires. I began to listen in on myself... slowly, slowly, learning from my own body and mind. For some reason, perhaps because of what I have seen around me, thought I 'should' want a life of extremes: eco living, off grid, need no showers, forage and grow, never shop at supermarkets - that kind of thing. I tried on other lifestyles like people try on shoes. Slowly, I was learning... I wanted showers, and more than that I wanted baths. I wanted cleanliness. I wanted very little possessions, but for those possessions that I do own to be loved, well worn, useful and beautiful. I wanted to shop for food. I wanted a place to grow food too. I wanted creature comforts. I wanted less work hours, more time for hobbies, especially reading and writing. I wanted to travel. And I wanted nice clothes!

My desires change, they are fluid like water, not as constant as my needs, but they are still important. They speak to the parts of me that have formed around my world like a vine searching for sun - I could stay small and survive close to the ground, or I could look at the other plants and copy how they have grown... but I choose not to. Instead I am following my sun's light.

...

 

In Monaco we bought new clothes: cotton shirts to let the breeze in, soft on skin, and new shoes to run with, and shorts and pants that let the sun touch our winter bruised legs. My boots were caked in mud, totally worn and cracked through, smelly and old, they reminded me of all the beautiful memories I had been through. But I gave them up, making room for the new: new meaningful items, new expressions of self.

 

I felt like a Spring lamb

in a garden of clover!

 

 View over the harbour of Monaco, with luxury yachts all lined up and gardens laid out below.
 The most wonderful vivid flowers in the well tended gardens of Monaco.
 A silver and gold telescope on the hillsides of Monaco.
 Yellow flowers and the apartment buildings of Monaco.
 Pink candy houses - such perfect apartments on the royal hilltop of Monaco.
 Small nemo clownfish in a sea anemone - Monaco's famous aquarium.
 A regal white stone building, with exotic palms, Monaco.
 An old glass cabinet with a model ship inside - Monaco's aquarium museum.
 Tiled floors and drop lanterns in a grand entranceway to Monaco's museum.
 Beautiful pink and purple flowers bloom by the stairs of a garden in Monaco.
 An incredible, huge ballroom with crystal chandeliers in Monaco.
 Brilliant cactus gardens in Monaco - with all different types of cacti.
 A perfect pink rose, climbing on a trellis.
 Royal police hang around a perfect pink cookie cutter building, Monaco.
 A red rose in the Princess Grace Rose Garden.
 Luxury yachts bob in the bay.
 The Monte Carlo Casino façade, with luxury cars parked in front.
 Cafe de Paris art nouveau glass awning in Monaco.
 Monte Carlo casino architecture - sumptuous. 
 A fancy old car driving through the streets of Monaco.
 The Japanese gardens of Monaco in Spring - with magenta cherry blossom.
 A koi fish in a pond, with rocks and coins. Zen image.
 The beautiful bridge and small pond in the Japanese gardens of Monaco.
 A pink rose, the Princess Grace Rose Garden, and the hills of Monaco behind.
 Driving the hills around Monaco with gorgeous views of the blue ocean and lush forest.
What have you been doing poet since you left us
Your sun is still here in Monaco
It almost knows Italian I looked for you on the terraces because they
were full of light
And the train whistled and stopped and you didn’t get off and the terraces
grew very sad
What I am writing comes from the Earth stems of tropical flowers
fireworks from nature poems from the Earth...
— ALBERT-BIROT