Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Written in ochre



October is written in orange, scrawled loopily with a fat crayon. This much we know and I have the photos to prove it. But not the golden glow of Jack O'Lanterns grinning in the night but the warm rust of ochre warming my fingertips, a lasting stain and bright. 



Millions of years ago, my part of the world, Provence, was just one long sad sea. When the continents leaned into one another, conspiratorially, limestone and sandstone built up over time, leaving us with the surprise of ochre.


Ochre has been mined for pigments since the dawn of humanity. It traces out the animals dancing across the caves of Lascaux, the Egyptians dabbed it tenderly across their lips and cheeks...


Such earth equalled wealth for those who mined it and such was the family practice along a certain stretch of the Luberon for over one hundred years. And while the natural has long been supplanted by the synthetic, the land here is still thriving.


It seems to me to be that now is a month of abundance, despite an/our American predilection for Thanksgiving in November. And the varying terrain along these former ochre mines is rife...with life.


So lets hear it for the shift and sway of earth giving us the goods over and over.


Let us use them wisely. 


For we are indeed rich, when we take in all that we have. Around us and in who we are.


I know, I know how often I say that but right now, as we dive towards the winter sleep on this top of the planet while friends are awakening to spring below on the other, it bares repeating. 


Listen to the scribble of the undertow.


What is in your heart during this month? 


What are you hoping for that lies ahead?


It is October, a perfect time to do a bit of (gentle!) digging...

...is there anything just below the surface that is calling for attention?


...for while we all learn our lessons and endure our scars...


 ...all the more reason to welcome a whopping batch of joy when that is what life throws us, to roll around in it gleefully, creating moments to carry us through the months ahead...

For yes, our lives are inscribed indelibly in a lasting ochre. Let us try to write it well.




Today's post is my October contribution to the "By Invitation Only" series. To see what the talented bloggers from the around the world have concocted for "Thoughts on October" please visit Splenderosa here.

Wishing you all a wonderful month ahead...



57 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, your photos are stunning.

    Have a good day :)

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    1. Thank you Simone, you too and welcome to BIO! This is only my third go with the blog party but it is a lovely group...

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  2. Your October thoughts and images are beautifully interwoven - "smelling the roses" and "counting our blessings" are powerful tonics. Bisous

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    1. Bisous to you too--looking forward to hearing more about your time in France this Summer!!

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  3. Heather, what a stunningly profound post you have given us today. It is beautiful. Both the thoughts, the writing and the photographs. To give up a little in this autumnal season so that the Earth is reborn in the spring. Just wonderful. Love from Houston...where we have Fall, an unusual experience for us.

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    1. You have Fall there?! Yippee! Enjoy it, dear Marsha. And my ooh my, one of these days I hope to write something for the BIO group that is downright silly!!! ;)

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  4. Oh my, your photos and writing just keep getting better and better. This post is universal, but somehow you have captured exactly what I need to do this fall as I try to move forward with my life.

    You are so wise.

    xxxJ

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    1. Oh, I am so not, Judith. Talking to myself here more than anything. I have been so moody lately. Missing out on the point...Gros bisous and scratchies to la belle K.

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  5. My dear H,

    You have spoken to my heart on so many levels with this. October is my favorite month of the year and orange is my favorite color. My spirit has been long asking me to do the bit of gentle digging you speak of and has now kicked up the request to almost audible! Your post is all I need to know that I know that I know that this October will bear a peculiar boon if I will still myself and listen.

    My soul is knit with yours. Thank you for this.

    xx

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    1. Suze, this post was kind of for you! Well, the second part as I was thinking about what you had written--I had no idea that orange was your favorite color although sheesh, I should have guessed. I had meant to send you an email today to tell you so but you beat me to the punch. :) As I said to Judith (who is one smart cookie), I am also really, really talking to myself right now!!

      PS. Boon is a mighty fine word...

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    2. PS. I wonder what the yarn is made of...?

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  6. I shall tell you how wonderful this is in person... xv

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  7. Hello Heather

    You capture both in words and your photography the beauty of Provence. I am particularly captivated and mesmerized by the image of the tree (5 images above Ben)- the reflected light beneath the branch is so brilliant and how your keen eye saw this.

    I join you in gratitude of the beautiful world we live in and the friends who live here

    Helen xx

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    1. Oh thank you Helen. Are you sure I can't come over for tea in your kitchen? ;) It is always so surprising to me that there is so much that is so strong in Provence that it actually reflects! Like the red, orange, magenta earth. But please don't give me too much credit, I just saw something that pleased me (that the branch was lit up like it was on Broadway), I don't have any understanding of these things!!

      And I know that you feel the same as I do about this beautiful world, it is one of the things that connects us...
      xo,
      H

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  8. Really beautiful photos of the ochre earth. You post interesting questions to ponder, which I'm off to do. Smiled at the "oche" on Ben's nose. Very nice ending to a very nice post!
    Sanda

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    1. So glad you saw that, Sanda!! He was one happy boy, I can tell you. I know how much you appreciate your puppers as well...

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  9. Stunning images but my fave is the last one....being a fellow golden retriever owner and I featured my little lovebutton in my post today too.....the ochre pictures are simply stunning. Nature at its most beautful.
    What do I want to do? What will October hold? I hope a lot of smiles, more laughter than I think I can handle, some yummy comfort foods, forgiving roomy sweaters and the gift of family and friends. Thats all I can ask for:)

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    1. Tina, I think that is a great list if ever there was one and that we all should hope for "more laughter that I think I can handle" every month!

      I rooted for Teddy so much when he was attacked and am so thrilled that he is in good shape now. There are a few of us with goldens that overlap on blogs--certainly Debra's Dylan Dog at Aquired Objects comes to mind but he is not the only one. Aren't they the best?

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  10. Oh my word Heather!! I am gasping in delight here!!! For Ochre is my favourite colour!! Your images are a warm oh so vibrant. Fired earth...beautiful... Lots to ponder as well. Love the pooch to bits!

    Thank you for your kind words and virtual hug! Giggles for the hair and eye colour....

    So sorry to hear that you have also had a tough time as well. Feels like I have been a hamster on the London eye, but onward and upward we go! Wishing you lots of strenght and loads of energy and love to deal with life's lil curved balls.

    Sending hugs from Cape Town

    V

    xx

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    1. Thanks so much, V, sending them right back at you!

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  11. Ochre ... so beautiful, so deep, so rich - the colour of life itself. How strange, or perhaps not, I have felt the need to surround myself with this colour lately. I read a post before yours which resonated with this one. Coincidence? Hardly. We are, after all, all pilgrims on the same journey. My favourite image (apart from Ben) is the fifth from last. That colour is just so very me.

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    1. Loree, have you ever read Suze's writing? That's her with the black cat logo up above in the comments. I know that you would love her and what she does as much as I do. Just a thought.

      And wow! I wish that I was such a dynamic color. I think that my color might be the deep electric blue of when the sun has gone down and the moon hasn't written yet. :)

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  12. Very moved by this post, Heather -- thank you for such a beautiful and indelible reminder to honor our own ochre (despite our own ogres! :)

    Were some of these photos taken in Roussillon? I loved the ochre path there, though I walked in sandals and I think it took me two weeks to scrub the color off my bare feet!

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    1. Oh Ann, you are so fabulous--darn those nasty ogres! What are we going to do with them?

      I'll explain more in my next post but these were taken in the Colorado Provencale. Absolutely empty compared to Roussillon, which we stopped through on our way home.

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  13. Bravo, Heather...a sublime post. Your photographs and your writing resonate with me every day. Thank you, Leslie in Portland

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    1. Thank you Leslie--hope all is well with you and your gang...Are you still getting to take the boat out now and again?
      xo,
      H

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    2. We will have it moored in the water until October 15, when it has a checkup and then goes to its winter home on land. We were out last Sunday afternoon, and all 5 of us enjoyed the water, sun and sand immensely. (Both dogs are quite willing to doze between their three daily walks the day after a water outing!) I wish we could import you three for next weekend's foray!! Fondly, Leslie

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  14. I loved that the post ended with Ben's smiling face. I'd know that dog anywhere! x

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  15. Your post for our By Invitation subject this month is absolutely beautiful. Your photographs are stunning and are accompanied by very wise words. It was lovely to read what October means to you. Enjoy the Autumn. XXXX

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    1. Merci Jacqueline, wishing you the same...

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  16. Heather, today's post can't be just a coincident. This weekend I was going thru my old copies of "France Magazines" deciding which to keep and those to go in the recycling bin. As I was leafing through a copy from Nov 2007, my eyes were drawn to an article on the Ochre Villages of the Apt Valley. I re-read the article and in an instant thought about you, on the line of - I wonder when Heather will write a post about this area of Provence. My eyes blinked a couple of times to ensure my brain is not playing tricks on me, when I opened your blog for today.

    What is in my heart during this month? What am I hoping for that lies ahead? Two very profound questions to mull over, ponder upon and with some gentle digging, be able to fathom the scribble of the undertow.

    Merci beaucoup Heather, for an amazing post.

    Amelia



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    1. Amelia! That is some crazy business!! We are linked!!! :) I love that...
      Bisous,
      H

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  17. Oh my goodness, you hit this one out of the ballpark!! How does your writing and photography just keep getting better and better? With sooo many beautiful thoughts to ponder. What I am hoping for/what is in my heart is that the chill and shorter days are not so cold/short with my sweetie around; that we can share in fall together. And, hmm, is there anything just below the surface calling for attention? Um, in a word, YES, but I am digging and digging every day!!!

    Thank you for this beautiful post!!! : )

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    1. Oh Sister, thank you!!!! But remember, dig gently please. You of all people are always so wisely reminding me to have compassion for myself. Great advice--not to mention the idea of deciding on the choice where you take better care of yourself--I can't stop thinking about that!!!

      I love youuuu,
      H

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  18. p.s. I did not see the ochre on Ben's nose (someone here pointed it out) - TOO CUTE! : )

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  19. I love ochre color and painted a feature wall this color in our bedroom but the husband wasn't thrilled. I know it's a high energy color but to me it's soothing. I'm hoping to slow down this October with all the outside work, I just need a little bit of a break. Ben is so cute with his bits of orche, give him a big kiss from me!

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. I will do once he wakes up Debra! And I bet that wall was gorgeous. To me it is such a grounding color...?
      xo,
      H

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  21. Lovely, combining beauty with substance as always!! And I didn't know that was how ochre was formed - interesting as well as poetic! I adore October, especially here in New England where the change of seasons is such a beautiful spectacle!

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  22. Stacey, I have to say that as gorgeous as Provence is...I would prefer a New England autumn in a heartbeat!!!

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  23. Ochre. Now that is a metaphor with legs. I find myself wishing for time to contemplate, and my job is taking all my brain and then some. My being will probably wish to do as you say here, and in reality I will be rushing about. So thank you for the few minutes of quiet thought.

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  24. Dear Heather
    What a wonderful pictures, thoughts and writing you share with us today. Thank you for this beautiful post - I love it!

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  25. Dear Miss Robinson,

    Is this the best that you can send us?

    To be quite honest with you?.....this just doesn't cut it.

    I've spent this afternoon shopping your latest posting around the studio, and NO ONE sees how anyone could turn this into a treatment/pitch for what we NEED here.

    Bruce Willis, Lindsay Lohan, Shirley McClain, Jon Voight, AND David Hasselhoff need to have their careers jumpstarted (and I mean NOW!)...and I don't seen any way that your most recent offering can be translated into a commercially-viable vehicle for any of them. Where's the STORY?...where's the ACTION?????

    Can you please re-write the entire thing (trust me...I'm trying to watch your back out here in Hollywood)?...maybe get some guns and cars and guns and some violence and guns into this whole "Lost in Arles" script?

    You know what I mean...Keep all the France-stuff...but could you just, please, make it more sell-able??????

    Lindsay's people won't even talk to us. They saw your piece when we sent it to them and decided that it's just not right for her at this time. It's just not a "good fit". That's complete bullshit; she's PERFECT for the part. Don't you agree?

    Please re-write EVERYTHING and fax it to me, pronto. If you could just add a scene in which you get slapped around a little by your boyfriend's mafia-connections (just a little..we don't want to get TOO heavy and come across as a "message" movie), we might get Javier on board. He does good "heavy" parts.

    Trust me, Heather Baby....everyone's genuinely interested in this "Lost in Arles" pitch...but you got to get more sex, more violence, and at least two car-chases into it if we're going to get the movie MADE.

    Two of the producers are wondering if you could maybe just make the Remi character a bit more "edgy". He's too romantic, as things stand. Can you re-write the whole thing and give him a hardline heroin addiction or something...maybe connect him with the Marseilles mafia? We need some TENSION in the plotline.

    you know what I mean? this nice-guy-husband stuff just doesn't cut it for 2 hours in a theatre. Audiences get bored with nice.

    Angelina's people passed on the treatment, of course. Jennifer's interested, but only if we turn "Lost in Arles" into some sort of a romantic-comedy. She is such a dumb studio-milking-cow. Our people told her people that wouldn't be happening, since the whole POINT of movies was to alter reality.

    Get back to me soon. you got my private cell-number.

    Let's get the movie of "Lost in Arles" MADE!

    Enthusiastically yours as ever, and let's some MONEY off this story! We just got to change it a little bit, you know?....

    David Terry
    Executive Senior Producer
    Exploitive Productions & Representation
    156 Lower E.Commerce Street
    Suite #666
    Los Angeles, CA
    57314





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    1. David darling,

      You're adorable. You really are.

      But how many effing times do I need to tell you that this is a MOOD piece? M*O*O*D. Say it with me now.
      I mean you can't change a rabbit into a turkey. Or a puppy or whatever. Ok?
      There doesn't have to even BE a plot. I AM the plot.
      Have you ever even seen a French movie?
      Just get Wim Wenders people on the phone. That Trina Posh movie was amazing.
      Actually, I WILL DO IT.
      No wonder no one will return your calls with an address like that.
      Downtown, David? No one goes downtown. I told you to set up in the Chateau but you didn't listen, did you?
      Whatever.

      "H"

      sent from my isad

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  26. P.S. for those who don't know?....Heather has spent more than plenty of years, before she moved to France, learning the ropes in the acting/theatre business.....and I hope everyone recognizes my previous posting as a satire on the sort of thing that, if you're "in the business", you're likely to hear....

    ---david terry

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    1. I couldn't sleep last night and like an idiot, I checked my email. Stifling that much laughter actually kind of hurts! :) And then, of course, I went back to bed and spent the next hour or so cooking up a response in my head (rather than just getting back up and writing it down)--80% of which got swept away when I did finally sleep. So I got to have fun all over again this morning, albeit in a sleep-deprived state, so thank you. Whew. That was a good one.

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    2. P.S. Heather?......as you may know, I'm pals with Frances "Under the Tuscan Sun" Mayes. She and her husband, Ed, obligingly came to the "coming out" party thrown for Herve and me two weeks ago, and they live in yet another lovely-old house down the road from this old house. So, in a town/village this small, it'd be difficult NOT to meet her (they split their time between Cortona and here)....and she's so sincerely nice (I'm not being sarcastic) that it would be impossible not to also like her.

      She's also enterprisingly and nothing-but-pleasantly diplomatic concerning the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"...... the wildly succesful (and, actually, quite entertaining) Diane Lane vehicle that was "based" on Frances's equally succesful memoir. Both the movie and the book continue to sell like hotcakes.

      Of course, the plot of the movie (which is, actually, an entertainingly engrossing plot) has scarcely anything to do with her actual life/memoir....beyond the protagonist's being a female writer who bought an old house in Italy after a divorce. The script writers did retain the Polish stone-masons, but almost all of the rest is not to be found anywhere in the memoir. As Frances, with predictable poise and diplomacy, has said "They kept the SPIRIT of the book".

      I find this all very amusing (Her husband, who bought and restored the house right-along with Frances, is entirely excised from the movie, although he/"Ed" does appear,in the guise of handsome young writer, in the closing scenes). It's all very interesting to me.

      In any case, you never know.....recall that "Julie and Julia" was made (much to the satisifaction and financial gain of everyone involved) from a "treatment" of a blog that was never even a book.

      My personal, little Fairy (so to speak) Godfather wish for you is that "Lost in Arles" suffers the same enviable fate one of these fine days.

      sincerely,

      David Terry
      www.davidterryart.com

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    3. I remember being fairly perplexed when I saw the movie but enjoyed it nonetheless. Just as I had the memoir. It does me good to know that she is genuinely a nice person to boot.

      But as for me, well, I never would have thought of that in a million years! I don't think enough happens around here to be a movie. I am flattered though and will keep it in my noggin' for stewing...

      For the second time today (and it isn't even 3pm here), thank you so much.
      xo,
      H

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  27. Heather I truly enjoyed this post. The ochre in your images is stunning and reminds me how rich and complex earth really is.

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  28. Thought provoking words Heather the ochre story was so interesting!
    Carla x

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  29. I'm sorry I'm late to this piece. (Je ne fais que courir en ce moment.)

    This is stunning. Poetry. And fascinating besides. The images are equally gorgeous. You do October proud - and yourself - and the magnificence of nature we so easily overlook.

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  30. Heather, what fantastic words and photos. You constantly inspire me to look more closely and to feel more deeply. xo j.

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  31. Oh, Heather....I forgot to mention the day when, having gone back to Rousillon to visit a firned who'd been living there for a while, I noticed an extremely pretty, middle aged woman....a tourist who was (and for this reason, if nothing else, she cut a prominent figure) NOT dressed in 2-short shorts, clunky "walking" shoes, and a tank-top.

    She was wearing a very pale-blue & white striped, charmingly "ladylike" sundress with a white belt/sash, and a wide straw hat, with her blonde hair pulled back and a pair low-heeled shoes (I don't know what these are called; ladies wear them at afternoon parties). I pointed her out to Herve, remarking on how lovely she looked.

    Herve's response was "That's the most ill-prepared woman I've seen in years....she's going to be S-O-R-R-Y in about half an hour....".

    "Huh?", I asked. Pointing at her, Herve said "Take a look....WHITE shoes?????...

    And then we watched her as she set off, delicately picking her way down the trail leading through the old ochre mines and quarry.

    We did, indeed, an hour or so later, see her. She'd unthinkingly made the mistake of sitting down somewhere...and her entire butt was covered with iradicable ochre stains...and those shoes were thoroughly ruined. Everything-above-the-waist was, of course, still just as lovely a thing as could be seen on a Provencal summer-day....but the bottom half was a permanent (as I expect she later found out), dry-bloody mess.

    At the time we saw her, she didn't appear to have yet noticed, and I didn't feel like pointing it out to her.

    Level Best as Ever,

    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

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