Floes of sheet ice covering about 30% of the river surface are moving down stream on the Duna and it is great sport for local people to watch the stone piers of the Bridge compact then shatter them – before they progress more sedately down stream.
Artist Stephen Turner records his experience as guardian of the Maria Valeria Bridge between Esztergom (Hungary) and Štúrovo (Slovakia) from October 1st 2011 – March 31st 2012.
‘Sport Presso’ was a much loved restaurant on the road leading up to the Danube before it was necessarily demolished to facilitate the rebuilding of the Bridge in 2001 (The single span visible through the restaurant window around 1977, is a remaining section of the earlier structure). A horse chestnut tree on the site was enclosed by the restaurant and local people remember the tree’s growing presence displacing a number of tables and chairs.
The tree must have been there before the restaurant opened and a postcard from the 1920s does indicate a tree (and part of the original restaurant building) in this location (ref. my blog for October 20th). A colour photo from 2001 shows the restaurant being taken down around the tree and my own photograph last week reveals it to be the same one; a real survivor left to guard the Bridge.
© With thanks for use of any photographs other than my own to the archive of the Municipal Museum Štúrovo and to Štúrovo City Council.
The recent warm weather ended with day and night long flurries of a fine light snow, which settled on hard frozen ground and on the more giving branches of the studio tree which gained an enhanced highlight of white reflective line overnight.
A tiny forest is growing from conkers beneath the arching arms of their parent tree by the Little Danube in Esztergom. Further from the ground, buds opened during the course of unusually warm winter days have been killed during their freezing nights. My own collection of conkers, planted in pots in the studio courtyard, are sensibly waiting for the springtime proper to arrive.
The hearts of more than twenty conkers were shelled and finely grated. Native American Indians in the 1890s would sprinkle this material into streams in order to attract and knock out fish; a practice alluded to in Michael Ondaatje’s book Divisadero (p 139). When warmed in a pan of water from the river however, it makes a cloudy white ’emulsion’ which has the properties of a liquid soap. On testing, I found it very good for removing stains in fabric and I am considering its usefulness in place of shop bought detergents and as a creative agent.
The chestnut sediments slowly settle to the bottom of the pan and the clearer solution on top can be retained as a means (in theory) of adding a pale blue colour to linen. So far I have produced ‘Esztergom Lemon’ (Esztergom Citromsárga) from a tree in grounds of the Basilica.