Milan the Soup Kitchen

Walking through the fog, which that evening was as thick as pea soup, he watched the condensing airborne confusion unfold in front of him. With every one of his exhails cloudlike formations were conjured up, spun into existence for split seconds each. A fight between warmth and cold always won.

He got a déja-vuy feeling: he had read something similar somewhere before. A short rummage through the dustier parts of his memory resulted in a light bulb being turned on metaphorically, and an aha! moment. That’s what it had reminded him of, Fire and Ice by Robert Frost:

Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

After having spent the afternoon exploring the Isola district by weaving between skyscrapers and the product of a brainstorming meeting of some bored but meticulous urban landscape designers that had resulted in chess-board-like arrangements of lavender and boxwood bushes, he headed south. Sforzesco, past the colourfulness, shining in the dazzlingly lit Piazzale Luigi Cadorna, of Needle Thread and Knot and straight onwards ‘til he reached the Viale Papiniano. The full moon struggled to make itself noticed, steadily trying to display its pearly-white splendor through the layers of clouds and mist. His tripod, which he had slung over his shoulder, swayed with every step despite his hand trying to prevent it from doing so.

Soon enough, he reached the point where the Papiniano got pushed to one side and it’s width reduced to make way for the Darsena. He crossed the road and, with his shoes sinking into the thick, moist tufts of grass, headed down to the water. Zoning out the background traffic, he started setting up the aforementioned tripod. It’s feet sunk, permeating the murky dark rippling surface, into the naviglio’s seasonally befitting autumnally soaked-leaf-covered bed.

He decided to go with a vertical 4x5 composition, framing it up to include two of the moored, idly undulating dinghies, cornered in between the Associazione Nazionale Marinai d’Italia building and the bridge arching over the Darsena. One of the masts, due to the boat’s swaying, seemed to be lightly stirring the thick, soupy, misty evening air. After much deliberation, he decided not to include a couple enthusiastically kissing on one of the two wooden docks between him and the bridge, as he thought it might render the image too busy. After experimenting with different shutter speeds he found three seconds to be the most ideal, took a few shots, had one good long last look around to make sure he hadn’t missed some other compelling compositions, and proceed to pack up his gear.

With it getting later and later and the cold air not ceasing it’s relentlessness, he started making his way back home. The sight of some flames from gas heaters in the outdoor area of a nearby restaurant insinuated itself into his mind, filling it with enticing longings of hot tea and biscuits.


More photo stories by Simon Chinnery