Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The jangle of time's keys


"Produits du paysans!!" I point and yell with the glee of a willful child that has just won the final round of "I spy" during an exceedingly long car trip. After catching his startled breath, Remi swings the Range Rover over to the side of the road. We are in need of supplies, red wine namely and where better to procure them than a shop offering "Peasant products" (oh all right, that is the literal translation but I couldn't resist).  Remi dives under the yellow awning, a tiny bell rings as he opens the door and I step out to stretch. We are in Lodève, unexplored territory, on our way to rent a safari tent in the Haut Languedoc region. The dogs are panting in the back so I pop the hatch to give them some fresh air and ruffle the fur on top of their Golden heads. 

Proper scratchies take time and so I let my gaze wander while my fingers do the work. As luck would have it, we have pulled up in front of an impressive and mysterious building. Closed, abandoned? No. There is a bright green metal mailbox tacked to the side of giant wooden entry doors like a sparrow on a rhino's back. The something something Archeological Society. Hm. 

I tilt my head up and up to take in a stone portico, sober and sobering. This must have been a church before and for quite some time by the looks of...what?...the details. As if stepping in to a darkened room, my eyes adjust and I see them. The oddly placed numbers carved into the planks, a connect the dot code of a lost language. It is no less secretive than a barely legible chalk scrawl..."il faut a les..." no, I can't make it out. What is it that we "had to do" here? Something before entering? A warning not to enter?

I pull myself a part from the dogs to run my fingers in and out of the swiss cheese holes of what once must have been smooth stone. How very long it must have taken for that to happen. How very long for the paint to chip and then be painted over and chip again. Rust has oxidized around the locks but not enough to close them off. They are still open and waiting. As I touch them, I can hear the jangle of time's keys approaching and soon.

The tinkle of the bell pulls me out of my reverie and I see Remi laughing over his shoulder as he says his merci's and aurevoir's, a characteristic I love about him, always with a kind word. We pull away but before the adventure continues, I take one last look at the nameless, faceless building, one that becomes more so by the minute with distance until it resembles a blank slate of nothing. And yet I know it's tiny secrets and feel quietly reassured by having read through their layers like Braille. "On and on and on, we keep going," they whisper. I listened. I nod. I know.








Today's post is for the September issue of the By Invitation Only International blog party. 

This month's theme is "patina," a subject close to my heart. While I have the good fortune to live amongst spectacular scars and beauty marks that portray two thousand years of history in Arles, I thought that this doorway of a forgotten church in a forgotten town conveyed the essence of what patina means to me  as well.

To discover the other fine entries--and I am sure that there will be wonderful takes on such a gorgeous subject--by all means...Please click here.

I am especially excited that the incredibly talented and lovely Penelope Bianchi is joining the group, now in it's third year. To see her contribution...Please click here.



55 comments:

  1. How wonderful Heather, both in images and text. You write so beautifully ..... the perfect post on 'Patina'. Can you believe that BIO is now in it's third year ?!! XXXX

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    1. I can't Jackie and I really am so proud to be a part of such an amazing group of ladies as yourself!

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  2. I figured you would have leapt for joy at this topic...she who so appreciates the beauty of patina...

    But what if there had been something inside those cheese holes? a spider, an ant? a ghost of stones past? ....just pondering...But it is instinctive to want to touch ancient stones and materials, isn't it?

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    1. It is. But of course you are right (as per usual ;), I didn't publish the other photo of those stones--covered in creepy cobwebs!!!

      And hehe, yes, I was did a little sigh of relief when the theme was named. I could practically my blog "patina" but then that would be stealing from my friend Brooke Giannetti's wonderful book, "Patina Style"! And I am no thief...

      Gros Bisous,
      H

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  3. There is nothing more to add but to say just stunning Heather. words and pics!

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  4. I love reading your lines, so eloquent and poetic. I find beauty in the rough, old, discarded objects. I shy away from the glitzy and new, and your words expressed my feeling about the beauty of "patina".

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    1. I think that perhaps one of the reasons why your design firm has been such a huge success is that you inject the essence of something well-loved and inject it into a new creation. I don't know how you do it. It is a kind of magic! But your appreciation and true understanding of patina must come into play.

      I am still thinking about your definition, including how people have also marked us with their love and friendship.

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  5. Heather, your contemplations on the things of life always enrich the soul as well as the ear. Merci beaucoup.
    XO

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    1. You are welcome, Victoria! Isn't that Mozart gorgeous? Something in how the cello "talks" with the other strings in the first movement made me think it might be appropriate for a discussion on patina!

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  6. A wonderful way with words...and oh such fabulous "Patina"...Have a fabulous day! Mona

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    1. Thank you Mona and you as well! We are spoiled with patina everywhere here in this part of France...

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  7. You write so beautifully Heather...and your choice of photographs illustrate 'patina' simply perfectly!
    Have a lovely week.
    xx

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    1. Merci Catherine. I could have looked at that door for ages. Wishing you a lovely week as well...

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  8. Wonderful Heather, just a wonderful story!
    I also love your comment about beauty marks, it so perfectly describes patina.

    Sending hugs and warm wishes from down under, xxx Coty

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    1. Thank you Coty! Sending them right back from Provence! And I loved your post as well--what a talented artist to use patina in such a special way.

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  9. You've captured the texture of time in this patina post, Heather. Beautifully photographed and spoken of. Always enjoy your contributions to By Invitation Only. . .
    xo Jackie

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    1. Oh thanks so much Jackie--the texture of time is exactly what I was aiming for!!!

      I feel fortunate to be included in such a fabulous group.

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  10. The jangle of time's keys... the layer's of braille. Oh yes. Perfection.

    You've covered this exquisitely, Heather.

    xo

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    1. Thank you but I still can't get that last sentence of yours out of my head.

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  11. Ditto Ditto Ditto everything D A Wolf said. You said it perfectly. I really wish I could have been there with Remi, the dogs and you...just to see your sheer astonishment at finding this forgotten place, and to share a glass of peasant red wine. Sending love, Heather darling.

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    1. Sending it right back in triplicate! We are actually heading back in that direction tomorrow for a few days. We will probably stop again to get wine...I wonder if it will look the same???

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  12. Heather this post truly touches my heart.
    What a mystery and that you were just to happen upon it!
    I often think, if walls could speak. It is intriguing to wonder of these very old very special buildings!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Feature: Entrepreneur Sigal Sasson

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    1. Karen, I could get lost in the wondering over all of these incredible buildings just in my neighborhood!! When I take people around on one of my walks, I always end up getting carried away and talk until their eyes glaze over!!! Heeheee---oops. :)
      xo

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  13. Ah indeed..if walls could speak.
    But you, Heather, have heard their magic and shared the moment with us. Again, I say...thank you.

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    1. You are so welcome! Always a pleasure to have you here. :)

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  14. Heather, you must be a building whisperer, divining the secrets locked within timeworn walls! You notice details and then you listen and imagine the stories tied up in ancient places. Better still, you share your discoveries! You respect the stories and are not afraid of them. Beautiful words and images. Remi got to converse with the vendors, while you conversed with time. A pleasure to read!
    Cheers,
    Deborah from Melbourne.

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    1. Deborah, Blogger liked your comment so much that it published it twice!! I did too. "A building whisperer"--how gorgeous is that? And what a fine, fine compliment. Thank you so very much!

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  16. YOU NAILED IT MADAME...........PATINA STYLE ALL THE WAY!

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    1. I think this is a subject that you also happen to know a thing or two about, Madame...

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  17. So beautiful. So really beautiful. Bisous, G

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    1. Thank you, G. Means the world coming from you.

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  18. Heather. wonderful, but I need more! Go to the second to last paragraph..
    "I can hear the jangle of time's keys approaching and soon....."
    You can't drive off! You must stay and tell us what you uncover...that special place you and Remi have longed for would be perfect.
    I can feel it in my bones...you are so close... xx

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    1. Gosh, do you really think so?? I read this in the middle of the night (I was awake with a tummy ache, all better now) and I can't stop thinking about it!
      But my oh my do I have respect for your instincts...
      We know that we are going to have to move on soon and keeping our eyes and ears open. I will keep you posted!
      xoxoxoxo

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  19. Oh, so hauntingly beautiful, Sister!!! I agree with Rowan - you are a building whisperer, as well as a words whisperer. Your writing is SO beautiful in this post, and I found the place a little eerie! I especially like how it's all tied together at the end with the photo of the entire doorway. At any rate, everyone else here is much more poetic than me with their praise for you, but I do really love this beautiful post - and I really do love my insanely talented sister. : )

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    1. No no no, I am the one with an insanely talented beautiful Sister. Me. And that would be you.

      And it was eerie! I sooo wanted to be able to go inside--I like spooky places!
      I loooooove yooou,
      H

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  20. "The jangle of time's keys." Well. Yes. That.

    Your imagery may follow me for a while.

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    1. Oh I hope so, it would be the least I could do to return the favor!

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  21. I've heard a lot about patina in the context of furniture, old doors etc. I thought about
    what/who else can have it and the answer came when I looked into the mirror. We...the people...in our face and body as well as in our soul. And sometimes it can be so wonderful

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    1. Absolutely. Mumbai, if you get a chance, quite a few of the other wonderful ladies have written about just that and it is gorgeous. So worth your time to take a look...

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  22. Gorgeous. This is what I love about living in Europe. xo Jenny

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  23. Fabulous patina. Old buildings do have a presence, a life, and we can know it if , like you, we stop and notice.

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    1. And that makes me think of the flower-print on your Grandmother's dress, G. Traditions that have a life, as you say, long after the original source of it is gone.

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  24. Mmmmmmmm, Heather?......
    This "Essay" demonstrates exactly what I've meant when I've said that you already have at least two good books in you, particularly if they were structured in the informal, "personal essay"-coupled-wit-photo-essay that characterizes vicki Archer's deservedly popular books.

    I hope you don't need me to say that creating a sense of personalized spontaeity isn't so easy as most folks would assume. You'll have to ask Vicki for advice concerning that matter; she's a master at it.....perhaps simply by being sincere.

    And you don't even have to hire a photographer....you've two in the house already.

    I think you should ask your readers (they're a devoted lot, as you'll have noticed) which of your postings were the most memorable over the past two or so years.

    That's how you'll get your book started. You've already got one good writer, two photographers, and about 500 supportive pre-editors.

    Just suggesting...no need to reply....but it'd be good to hear that you've started compiling something. Avoid thinking of it as "THE Book"....just think of it as "The Best of 'Lost in Arles' Scrapbook"....perhaps somethig you were going to give to close friends and family members as a Christmas gift? I'm not kidding.

    Muriel Spark (no slouch as a novelist and certainly no stranger to writer's block) once gave, to an aspiring but stymied young author, the sound advice (and I'm paraphrasing) "Simply sit down and pretend that you are writing a letter to a very dear friend, one who knows you well, likes you already, and cares about you. Don't think of anything but that, and you'll find that your book will write itself."

    She also added that an aspiring writer should always get a cat, since it will curl up on your desk next to your typewriter and keep you company."

    The cat might pose a problem in your household, but I would take the rest of her advice,if I were you.

    Thaks for the fine posting,
    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com


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    1. Hehehe. A cat? Noooot a goood ideeeaaaah David. Kipling really almost pulled me off my feet this morning lunging after a giant black dog. A cat would be made into brochette tidbits by lunch time.

      But I will absolutely keep the rest in mind and love the idea of asking folks if there are posts that they appreciated more than others, especially as I know that the ones that I like "best" aren't the ones that have been the most viewed. Heck, there are so many from the beginning that only my family, you and the Contessa have read!

      It is taking me forever to go through my photos. Three times a week for nearly three years means a LOT of photos. But it is helping me (with my terrible memory) to see what could work and yes, I definitely think of it as a scrapbook--there is no way on Earth that I could even think of it as any other way...!!!

      Do you honestly think that people would buy a mix of old and new essays with lots and lots of photos thrown in? I don't think that I have enough readers (291 members, 524 email subscribers--a laughable amount compared to many a fellow blogger) to garner interest...?

      And...to steal one of my favorite phrases of yours...for the record? Remi does his thing and I do mine and it is just right like that. Even my Mom thought that he was taking some of the photographs for the longest time which insulted him and made me miffed! But he is a fabulous editor when I ask and going through the photos has made me see his teaching more than anything. Wow do I still have soooo much to learn. It would be daunting if I didn't enjoy it so much.

      Lucky to have you as a friend,
      Bisous,
      H

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    2. I think it would work; your photos are exquisite and your words wrap around them like beautiful, soft shawls. There's story, tension, a little mystery........

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  25. YES, proper scratchies take time! My own ones are built up over decades :) :)
    Love, love your post, absolutely wonderful images, dear Heather! You never disappoint me. You have certainly THE eye for details, even for the tiniest ones!
    And together with Mozart's string-music, what a pleasure to read your post, to look at the pictures, the "scratchies", simply full of authenticity.
    Warmest greetings from the Périgord,
    Bisou et tres amicalement,
    karin

    P.S. Sorry for my long absence and non-commenting to your - always - wonderful posts, wonderful in the way I've described above. Having a bit of a rest from internet, blog world and PC, for a while or so. Just got myself together for our monthly post;
    A bientôt - k

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  26. Karin, I am ALL FOR taking a break from the internet, blog world and computer from time to time!!! Trust me, if I had your beautiful garden to play in, I would too! :)

    I am so glad that you liked the post and the Mozart! Somehow I had never heard this quintet and love it so much. And thank you for all of your compliments too!!!!
    Gros, gros bisous,
    H

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  27. dragged and drenched
    by time,
    a dwelling,
    the scratches and scars,
    a tale, buried,
    till touch

    thank you also for the music.

    yes. a book of essays.

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    1. Oh Edgar, I am so very grateful to Jeanne for making the introduction. Thank you so much for the poem, it is just perfect. Will think about the book. Would you mind it if some of the essays are ones that you had already read here?

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    2. Hi Heather,
      Just all the old.
      Old and new.
      Whichever you wish.
      edgar

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    3. Well, all right now. :) I don't honestly know if there is something to do here but if it is, it is because of my friends here for certain.

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  28. The idea of counting living among 'spectacular scars' a good fortune is so deeply wonderful, Heather. I know I've said before that you are an enormously talented photographer but your words betray your vision even more. The synergy between the two is a nourishment. You have a very particular lens (not just the camera) through which you view the world. It contains both wounds and that thing which survives them without shame. It's a beautiful thing.

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