M. Mauvais, My New Friend

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to check on my favorite tree, so I headed off to Jardin des Plantes in the 5th arrondissement. It was a Saturday, so the garden was bustling with children playing about, gardeners sowing new seeds, and people strolling through enjoying the beautiful day. When I can’t get my preferred shots with no people in them – or at least only unidentifiable people in them – I like to look for interesting characters that I can get to enjoy taking a few shots or to sneak of few.

falling off bicycles

Well, that particular day, I found a charming looking man sitting alone on a bench facing the Galerie de Botanique. He had two props in his hands that only added to his charm. I snuck a few shots his way, then quickly turned toward something else to make it look like I was shooting all kinds of things. And indeed I was, I just preferred him as my subject. He looked toward me once or twice and I thought I was surely busted. As I turned to start walking in away, he approached me and struck up a conversation with me. He said he had seen me taking photos in that direction, pointing toward the galerie, and wondered if I knew what was over there. Was I interested in knowing more about a “curiosity” over there? Of course I was!

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As we walked slowly over to the section of the large boulder sized rocks, I listened to him tell me about how the one we were headed for was made of talc and did I know that talcum powder comes from a rock? As we toured through that section of the garden, he told me that he was 92 years old, lives in “à deux pas” from the garden and he often came here on nice days. It was clear to me that he did indeed frequent this place, as his knowledge about the trees and plants and rocks was pretty astounding. When he used a word I wasn’t familiar with, I gave myself up as being une américaine, he informed me that just inside the newly opened Galerie there was a giant sequoia tree from the United States. Concerned that his was bothering me with all this information, he kept asking if I had someplace to be. Indeed I did have loose plans in a little bit, but his company and enthusiasm for everything in this garden had me hooked. He invited me to the Galerie de Botanique, where he showed me all kinds of interesting things I wouldn’t have paid attention to otherwise.

falling off bicycles             sequoia

Eventually he took me to the library across the street to see the view over the gardens. Although the trees weren’t in bloom yet, I was thankful to know about this rather secret spot to shoot from above. So often I find myself looking for a new angle for a shot that is very beautiful but that has been done a million times already. I’m so happy we met and that I got it from a 5ème local.

magnolia fallingoffbicycles

 

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5 thoughts on “M. Mauvais, My New Friend

  1. Amazing… this is one of those “expat experience” stories that makes people want to put themselves out there. What a great story.

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