Saturday, May 11, 2013

The pleasure in forgetting



I often bemoan the difficulties with my memory. Words, in either English or French, are almost there but disappear with the wisp of a powder puff. In their stead, I will pounce upon useless details that serve nothing. At times I am fearful for the future, wondering if there will be nothing left but dust. And so I document, in thoughts and pictures, events that I would be better off simply enjoying, in order to safe guard them somewhere. An external hard drive of my life.

And yet there can be certain upsides to my state. I keep my favorite novels on the shelf, knowing that I will be able to reread them anew with only the vaguest recollections, touch points of a ship bobbing on the tide. I experienced a similar moment of "oh, yes" today at the market, watching a young woman tuck a paper-wrapped bouquet of peonies under her arm. "I love peonies," I remembered. 

And so I walked up past the baskets of strawberries to the flower stand for the first time in months, since autumn, having let orchid statues fill the vases past their winter due date. The seller smiled with surprise to see me. "It has been a long time." It has, I nodded. He knows that I prefer lighter colors, white whenever possible, yet steered me towards coral tight-fisted blooms. As I was preparing to pay, he turned as he often does to grab their paler cousins and wrapped them too, a gift. "They won't last past the weekend anyway." I gave my sincere thanks, for that is what they were and wished him a Bon Weekend.

Arriving back at the apartment, I stacked my red peppers and tomatoes, leaving the flowers for last, until even after having wiped down the kitchen. I reached up into the glass cabinet to bring down the right vases and trimmed the stems. Lowering the bouquets into water, I arranged them with tiny pushes, a balancing act and was content with my work. Content with the soft feathering petals and light smoke of fragrance. Content in recognition, the pleasure of forgetting.








58 comments:

Teresa Maria said...

Beautiful, both the photos and your writing. I can relate to this so well.

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

written superbly. funny enough we forget scribes were there purely to write things down so we could document things so things don't change much do they..?

Loree said...

Gorgeous blooms. I hope your weekend is wonderful. I get forgetful too, sometimes. It is annoying but it's part of life, I suppose.

Judith Ross said...

So beautiful, and I really needed this today. This post gave me peace. Thank you.

Celebrating Beauty in Words and Images said...

White roses are my second favourite flower; the palest peony is the first and you have given me the perfect gift for Mother's Day from Provence, stems and all. Here in New England, the peonies are still at the tight dot stage . . . and so we are patient. Thank you for the lovely sentiment, Heather.

veuvemcd said...

Poignant et beautiful...

D A Wolf said...

Stunning images, Heather, and wisdom in your words as well as, for me, recognition.

Not only can there be pleasure in forgetting, but at times, grace.

materfamilias said...

Lovely. Thank you! You've revived my memory of peonies I brought back to the little house we rented in Bordeaux last spring. Ah, the fragrance. . .

Karen Albert said...

Heather I am astounded by these thought provoking and poignant words.
The flowers are gorgeous!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

simpleimages2 said...

The red will be hard to forget. Harder when the "coral tight-fisted blooms" open.

Red speaks the vibrant flow of life.

vicki archer said...

The beauty of a peony...
Perhaps the memory slips away into our subconscious... but every time those soft fragrant petals unfurl... it's like witnessing a small miracle...
Happy Sunday, Heather... enjoy your blooms... xv

Marsha Splenderosa said...

We are all this way until we see or smell something we remember beautifully. Then we know. We know we cannot live without them. We must have them, even the simplest of them will make us happy, won't they? Flowers, so femine, should always be beside a woman, always.

Acquired Objects said...

Your words and peonies are beautiful Heather. I wish you a special day that you won't soon forget.

XXX
Debra~

myfrenchheaven.com said...

Your photos are always so amazing! I don't spend enough time reading other blogs, but yours is a must for me!

Lost in Provence said...

Oh, I wish that weren't the case Teresa Maria, but thank you...

Lost in Provence said...

Well, there ya go, N! I just need to hire a scribe to follow me around! :) But it is a great point...No they don't change much, nor improve enormously for that matter...

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you Loree...Am wondering if the heat has started yet for you in Malte??

Lost in Provence said...

Today is another day and I hope it is a better one for you...

Lost in Provence said...

Happy Mother's Day! And yes, they are late here too this year but oh so worth the wait...

Lost in Provence said...

Merci beaucoup et Bon Dimanche...

Lost in Provence said...

Ain't that the truth! Happy Mother's Day, D!

Lost in Provence said...

It is so unique, isn't it? And a house in Bordeaux? Yes, please!

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you so much, Karena! Am sending you a giant virtual bouquet right now...!!!

Lost in Provence said...

It most certainly does, Edgar. So imagine my surprise that their color has already shifted! "Faded" seems like a sadder word for what it is because it is still beautiful.

Jenny Short said...

Heather, What a heartfelt post. I hope you print your blog into a book. I do that so I won't forget where I've been. My memory doesn't serve me well anymore, either. The flowers always make me happy and I love seeing them on your posts and others. Happy Mother's Day and life to you.
xo Jenny

Lost in Provence said...

Peonies are good flowers for you, Ms. Archer. And I love seeing the slight of hand as they open.
Out the door to take a walk in the country!

robin said...

Well, you know I can relate to memory problems! But I was explaining to David just the other day the benefits - not being able to hold grudges so long, for example! And revisiting books and movies. But, yes, just being in the moment and observing/enjoying flowers and nature is what life is all about - thanks for this beautiful post and for reminding us that in every one of your posts!! And Happy Mother's Day, mom of Ben and Kipling! : )

Lost in Provence said...

Marsha...you have a magic way of expressing the most simple things...thank you beautiful lady.

Lost in Provence said...

What a wonderful thought, Debra! I wish the same for you...

Lost in Provence said...

Really? I had no idea! And that is quite a compliment coming from you...merci tellement!

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful comment, Jenny. Today is a day for me to appreciate my Mother more than anything. I wish that I were closer to give her flowers in person! And thank you for the encouragement about the book...thinking about it...

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you beautiful Sister, Mom of Lucy! Have a wonderful time tonight and toast our gorgeous and amazing Mom for me please...it was great to talk to you yesterday--that too is what life is all about. :)
Me loves my Sister!

Suze said...

Wow. Just wow. There is *such* a delicacy in the photographs of the petals, I'm a little floored. Beautiful braid of words, concept and imagery, Heather.

Lost in Provence said...

So glad you enjoyed this beautiful, Suze. You have given me so very, very many "wow" moments that if I can occasionally toss another back at your feet from time to time it makes me a happy camper.
Gros Bisous,
H

mademoisella coquine. said...

It is nice to forget, isn't it? I've been trying it to forget unnecessary family drama before our upcoming wedding. I have to say, it hasn't been easy.

This post reminded me that it is possible and perhaps all it takes is a simple task like purchasing flowers. Thank you for giving me a "wow" moment as well. : )

La Contessa said...

WOOF WOOF WOOF>>>>>HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY from your four legged BEASTIES!

Unknown said...

I well understand the urge to document, lest the specific riches of a day sink too deep to find in the pool of memory. And I know how the very act of documenting can distract from the enjoyment of those riches in the moments they present themselves. I did not document whole decades of my life, and when I first try to remember a specific from those decades, I usually come up blank. But then, a cue, often from those who lived with me through those decades, brings the specific I'm seeking closer to the surface, and I realize that the memory of it is with me after all. It just takes a certain stillness of mind, and/or a very simple cue, to retrieve it. My guess is that that is true for you too. In your future, there will be abundance from your past, and it will not be in the form of dust (or what you have recorded on the external hard drive of your life).

Speaking of a cue...your mention of how words, in either English or French, are sometimes just beyond reach (while useless details are front and center), brought back memories from the times I have lived abroad. While I always had a dictionary for the language of the area where I was living, I found that I equally needed an English dictionary. The longer I lived in a non-English-speaking area, the more difficult it became to find the English words I also needed. I was told that that was an inevitable result of my becoming part of a culture in which I rarely spoke English. Would you like me to send you an English dictionary?

Happy Mother's Day, Heather! I hope Ben and Kipling took you (and Remi) on a lovely walk. Merrily, Leslie in Portland, Oregon


Ann Mah said...

Lovely, lovely. And sometimes I think peonies are at their most beautiful just past their prime. Thanks for the photos of my favorite flower.

Laoch of Chicago said...

About 5 years ago I suffered a dtroke which left me with huge wholes in my long term memory. It is very disconcerting because I am never quite sure what might have occurred long ago but I often have an idea. I sometimes feel like I am in a Roshomon like film.

Good post.

teamgloria said...

oh! oh! oh!

folds and CLOUDS of creme and vermillion.

*sighs*

and a lovely story.

quelle beauteousness.

Aussie in France said...

I love peonies - and I am a forgetter too but my short-term memory is excellent!

Francine Gardner said...

It seems my thought process is far too fast for my words. I feel frustrated as my sentences are loosing their fluidity. Ask me which book I am currently reading? i will not remember neither the title nor its author, and I do read! at least one book a week and as you, I keep all my books on my many overflowing bookshelves.... One would think than returning from a wonderful exotic vacation in Mozambique, my mind would be rested....
I am nurturing my peonies which are yet to bloom... the gift of beauty and scent is so precious.

Lost in Provence said...

Wishing you nothing but peace and happiness for your wedding!!!

Lost in Provence said...

That was very sweet of you, Contessa.

Lost in Provence said...

Leslie, you are so wonderful. This was very reassuring! Lately when I have been talking with my Mom on the phone, I have had to describe what certain words are in English because the word itself escapes me. Luckily she is patient and understanding. I actually have been trying to speak English more often in the house now because of that and hopefully it will help.

I am also grateful that she has such an amazing memory for tiny details and the family jokes. And yes, once she prods me a bit, it is rare that something doesn't come back. And it is interesting to me because all of these photos that I take (and I enjoy doing so) do not leave the same imprint as a real engraved memory, somehow. At times I look at them and they don't even seem real!

And yes, my puppers took me on a very lovely walk yesterday and it was just the thing--how did you know? Did Henry and Bob do the same?
Bisous,
H

Lost in Provence said...

A very you flower, Ann. And I couldn't agree with you more. I love them until every petal has fallen.

Lost in Provence said...

Thank you. I am so sorry to hear about your stroke and the missing pieces that ensued. I know that for the periods in my life where I also just have vague ideas or feelings about what I think has happened, I question my sense of perspective. And rely on family to steer me straight...

Lost in Provence said...

Merci. That last photo almost looks like one of your sheets and silk photos, doesn't it?

Lost in Provence said...

Ah, lucky you! I have to write post-it notes constantly...

Lost in Provence said...

Francine, I still can't get over the video with you and the cheetah! I have thought about it off and on all day...Lesson Learned!

Yes, all of this absolutely rings true with me. My thoughts zoom ahead of my words, so that I will snatch at whichever comes to mind first, English or French. That can work with Remi but Remi only! And as a test, I tried to recall the title and author of what I am currently reading. The title came through as it is the amazing "The Museum of Innocence" but the author's name left me reaching.

And I don't know if rest has as much to do with it. We think the way that we do. From what I understand, once the railroad tracks of the neurons in our brain are built a certain way...well, it is mighty hard (but not impossible) to rebuild them "properly"...

Yes, beauty is the finest gift (along with hope and love which are a part of beauty) and scent is divne. I imagine you to be a fine partaker of perfume, Francine...even in your travels!

Patrycja Photography said...

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"Do what you love is not even that, but anyway"

Sara Louise said...

They were a very pretty gift, even if they didn't last x

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I love your photography! Tish sent me over and I am so glad she did. Have a wonderful day...enjoyed my visit.

Lost in Provence said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Lost in Provence said...

Bah, they are still hanging in there, barely and still are beautiful...now Miss, go pack your bags!

Lost in Provence said...

Oh, thanks so much Pam! Any friend of beautiful, kind, funny Tish is a friend of mine...

Wyn Vogel said...

Gorgeous - that's all that can be said - will have to share this one!! You are putting your foot to the metal with this photography!! Remi - watch out!!

Unknown said...

Bien sur! XOXO, Leslie