Imagine if every street had some trees

In Instant Film, Nature
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A class of landscape architect students have been working on a project in our street.

They have dug up part of our lawn and planted perennials.

Just outside our door are three small pots of lavender. They remind me of those huge lavender bushes I’ve seen in people’s front gardens in England, and the sunny lavender fields of France that I’ve only ever read about.

I don’t suppose we’re likely to get something similar here in Oslo, but we can dream.

They applied to get the parking spaces removed for the duration, and have put up benches and potted plants in various configurations where there used to be cars.

Along the wall on the pavement they put up boxes for the neighbourhood children to plant sunflowers.

There are even some trees. In pots, admittedly, since I suppose actually planting a tree in the street permanently is far more difficult to get a permit for than anything else they have done.

They have left boxes of chalk for people to draw on the asphalt. It’s popular with the kids, and I even see adults stopping to draw – but perhaps mostly write.

The official opening was last Thursday, just outside our kitchen. I was home early from work, since I needed to bake a cake for a fundraiser the day after.

The weather has gone full summer, and I had all the windows over my kitchen counter open out into the street. School was just out, and I could see people I knew and people I didn’t, standing around in the sun, eating ice cream, coming and going, and hear the sounds of people chatting and the jazzy, velvety trumpet music coming from the speakers that the students had brought.

I felt a bit lonely, like I was standing on the outside observing a street party on the continent somewhere, or a rooftop party in New York, even though there was absolutely nothing stopping me from going outside and joining in.

A wasp flew through in through the window; it was that big and it’s that early in the season, and I assumed it was a queen. I freaked out a little, since I didn’t want it to land in the cake batter. Surely I couldn’t offer up a cake for sale at the fundraiser made from batter seasoned with wasp, so then I’d have to start all over again.

It flew into the office, and I went after it and closed the door behind us. It knocked confusedly against the (open) office window a few times while I got the door to the veranda all the way open. It finally realised that it could get out through there, and flew away.

While I was getting the cake into the oven, the music stopped and people left to other pursuits. I got to thinking about whether it is possible to photograph an emotion. And of course it isn’t, because photography isn’t reverse telepathy where the photographer inserts emotions into the viewers’ minds. But perhaps it is possible to photograph the photographer’s emotion, and then to trust that whatever emotion the photograph evokes in the viewer’s mind, it’s the right one for them.

~ All the best, Jenny G.

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