It’s not 6am yet: the air is cool and the light golden. I’m in search of two things: an uprising monument I haven’t seen, and a balcony of umbrellas I caught a glimpse of from the bus the other day.
I find the monument, no thanks to the map which never seems to label the streets I need. There are huge bouquets with tribute ribbons; a lit candle; and small flags with the uprising symbol planted in the flower boxes amongst the red and white geraniums. Elsewhere, there are other signs of the anniversary: flags; a wall plaque; and signs on the advertising cylinders and on a history museum.
People (and birds) are out and about: sweeping up broken glass and cigarette butts; riding a bike; walking the dog; strutting proprietorially (that’s the bird) and being very loud after a night out.
In shop windows reflections, Polish designs only, cotton ball lights and a swarm of jewellery. Above, flower boxes, facades old and new, a mural and graffiti. On the footpath, leftovers from Saturday night and a vivid sandwich board sign.
The umbrellas are worth the journey back. The camera can’t let them go. And I discover bonus umbrellas: a young woman with a white umbrella; a lacy miniature parasol; and a sign that says Umbrellas in the Backyard.
I walk along ul Chmielna, past the apartment I lived in for six weeks in 2015, and find Stalin’s Gift beckoning yet again, this time framed by buildings, clouds in a blue sky and a shiny red car, and glowing above the shadows as the early light hits it.
On the almost empty tram I notice that the seats are patterned with images of Warsaw, wondering yet again “Why didn’t I notice this before?”