Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 21 February 2021

DELIGHT One: Fountains

 


The last days I was a bit "under the weather", although the sun came out and I got some (personal) very good news. (I will tell you another time). 

So I did what I always do when I feel sort of blue: I looked into my bookcases and took out "Delight" by J.B.Priestly. It was first published in 1949. 


" FOUNTAINS. I doubt if I ever saw one, even the smallest, without some tingling of delight. (...) The richest memory I have of the Bradford Exhibition of my boyhood, (...) is of the Fairy Fountain, which changed colour to the waltzes of the Blue Hungarian Band, and was straight out of the Arabian Night." 

Priestly complains that there are only few fountains in Great Britain: 

"We hunger for them and are not fed." He asks for letters to The Times and even for demonstrations to get them. 

"Their cost is trifling compared to so many idiotic things we are given and do not want. Our towns are crammed with all manner of rubbish that no people in their senses ever asked for, yet where are the fountains?" 

The fountain on the photograph I took at the Victoria Luise Platz, a few steps from my home. The man who designed in 1902 the whole quarter, Mr. Haberland, insisted on many "Schmuckplätze" - Ornamental Places? - where you will find every time a fountain - in always diverging design. 

When they start to sparkle after winter, you know: now it is really spring.   


Query: What do you think about the delight of fountains? Are there fountains where you live, or nearby - and/or do you remember a very special one? 




30 comments:

  1. Fountains are almost as hypnotic as waterfalls. So soothing.

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    1. Dear Emma, I seldom have the opportunity to watch a waterfall - but I like that too!

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  3. I adore fountains! There's an iconic and much-photographed fountain in our local park and a Victorian confection in another nearby that Mr. P where I amused ourselves recently taking pics of one another - we're so cheaply and easily entertained these days!

    If only I had a modicum of photographic talent when I was young, I should have done better justice to the amazement I felt upon encountering the fountains at the Villa D'Este outside Rome. The engineering behind them is a story unto itself.

    Sorry to hear you've been a bit poorly and hope your bookish delights helped to perk you up.

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    1. Dear Pipistrello, I think the "easy entertainments" have a charm of their own (I I wrote a letter to the editor about a psychological article - 2nd letter in my life - starting to fear I become "Herzog" :-) - to emphasise that charm as a part of resilience. The professor answered, agreed!)

      I love your description of that special fountain as "Victorian confection" - I see it before my inner eye---and regard pensively my aspidistra - must keep it "flying". That was, by the way, what I decided after feeling a bit blue (weather changing from 10 degrees minus in one day to 10° C plus!).

      As to taking pictures when we were young: at that time there was also a special charm in taking pictures - same phenomenon as being easily entertained: there were only 32 pictures to take with a camera - one had to choose, to plan in advance...
      "Pictures in the heart" might be the best ones which can be taken. Though I love the paper version too - and make a note to visit the Villa d'Este next time I come to Rome (that is at the moment a dream, it will take some time till I will get the vaccination...)

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    2. Have to add, seeing your "Commonplace Book" quote: I am an ardent fan of Elizabeth von Arnim!!

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    3. "Expiation" was my first read of hers, and I loved it and will seek out more ... Now I must untangle you from a misdirection - I had "Victorian confection" in my head from a misplaced comment (hence the messy deletion, for which I apologise), the fountain in question is indeed an Art Deco delight. It should not distract you from keeping that aspidistra flying, I hope! In expiation, I shall furnish you with a pic over on Ye Olde Blog :)

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    4. My first was "Elizabeth and her German Garden", me being an ardent gardener. "Enchanted April" is also fine - the (funny, fairy-tale) movie I see once a year in April on DVD. I own all her books, which are a mixture of witty, entertaining and sometimes a bit kitschig plots.

      So: Art Deco - well: I am adaptable. : )

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  4. El Alamein Fountain in Sydney was commissioned as a war memorial to young soldiers from WW2. The first time I ever left for overseas alone (at 17), I felt sick and lonely and wanted to go home to Melbourne. Thankfully El Alamein Fountain provided peace, symmetry and a lovely watery sound.

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    1. Dear Hels, that is a very special fountain - it reminds me of a huge dandelion blowball! Very lovely, but also sad - knowing by now that it is a memorial for young soldiers and see the symbolic of it too: young lives so easily carried away, souls flying up. The artist's attempt to offer a sort of reconciling view to make the loss for those who lost a bit more bearable. If that is possible.

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  5. I can think of fountains most everywhere I've worked or lived. There even is a small fountain in the small town nearby. It springs up from the park, in a large paved circle, and children run in it in summer.

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    1. Dear Joanne, children running through the mist of a fountain - that is a view we cherish all over the world. The joy of tickling sparkling water drops!

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  6. I have no fountains to visit nearby. The fountain near your home is quite lovely. I especially like the park setting and the scale of the fountain. Water features are very soothing. The sound of moving water is always enjoyable. Take care, sending love and well wishes. Susan

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    1. Dear Susan, thank you! The place is very special, the daughter of Germany's last emperor lived there when she wanted to have a bit of privacy.
      I think they will start the fountain at the beginning of March - although we have surprising warm weather the last days, which was a very sudden shift.
      Do you have brooks or rivers or lakes nearby?

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    2. Yes, I have a stream that runs through my property. The flow of water and trickling sound is always much enjoyed. The Concord River and Walden Pond are both nearby. Both bodies of water are heavily used for recreation. I enjoy them off season in the quiet.

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    3. A Dream running through your property - that is real luxury! And are you speaking of THE Walden Pond, of Henry David Thoreau?

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    4. Yes Britta. Walden Pond, Concord, MA. Unfortunately Walden is no longer managed by the towns of Concord, MA and Lincoln, MA. The state of MA took over and the banks of the pond have experienced great erosion. HDT would be appalled. Today, there is an effort to manage crowds and stop erosion. Walking around Walden Pond in the Fall with colorful leaves and shadows reflected on the water is serine and lovely. A favorite place for sure.

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    5. In my studies I read a lot of Thoreau, Hawthorne etc - and I just ordered a book "Walking" by HDT. You are lucky, Susan!

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  7. Good morning,
    Fountains are always lovely to see. I love the sound of the water.
    Have a wonderful new week ahead.
    Rosehugs Marijke

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    1. Thank you, Marijkje! The sound of water is always beautiful - en wie benodigd fonteins want je hebt de zee? (Must try to better up my Dutch - it doesn't sound right :-)
      I wish you a beautiful week too - and : the little red tips of roses are coming out!

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  8. There is an unassuming little fountain at Fountain Court in London. It is magical and peaceful. During the recent freeze, a cattle feeder in a field near my workshop burst the water pipe and created a fountain just like the one in your photo. The sheep ignored it.

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    1. Part of Middle Temple? I've been there - love the whole area (and on the two days of "Open Garden" we were allowed in parts one normally cannot enter).
      And then there were near Embankment funny little fountains, only 20 centimetres high, over almost the whole court of a nearby museum - have forgotten the name.
      My friend Anne owns 4 sheep - and she sent me a photo where you could see the poor animals with a completely frozen sheepskin - they wouldn't have walked one step to admire a frozen fountain :-)

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    2. Yes, Middle Temple. Maybe you were at Somerset House? The huge courtyard has automated fountains and turns into a skating rink at Christmas.

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    3. Yes, that was it! Thank you!
      And on another occasion I was at another, smaller museum with also little fountains in front - Granary Square? A lovely exhibition of the highly admired Quentin Blake.

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  9. I love fountains and have good memories of many around the world.

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    1. Dear Rachel, you have traveled so much that it must be difficult to say "That was the one!" I wish so much that we can travel again!!! Have you been vaccinated already? xxx

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  10. Wonderful post
    really nice
    i enjoyed this
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  11. Being in the desert, we dearly love fountains. In the desert city where I used to live, we were so desperate for the sound or sight of water that a trek to a small indoor pool with fountain in an old office bulding was a must during summer! Here we fare a bit better with a large Mexican fountain in front of a local restaurant. It is featured in many local photographs.

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    1. Dear Holly, I am glad to hear from you! To live surrounded by deserts sounds a very special, and for me (living in a country famous for its woods) not easy to imagine, though in Spain I might have come near to it.
      And yes: the sound of water as from that fountain you describe must be really invigorating and precious! Water in that case is not taken for granted - it is what it really is: very valuable.

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