Friday, May 31, 2013

Green


I love to see synchronicity coursing through the internet, giving little zaps as it zips along. Fellow Provençale transplant Vicki Archer of French Essence asked the question today: "Do you take photographs in colour waves?" Beh oui, I do and some of my very favorite posts have come about from that line of sight. Not to mention, in the "Great Minds..." category (a-hem), I had already planned to share these emerald tainted photo slices. How do you like them apples? 

These were all taken on the same afternoon of our farewell luncheon in the Luberon, as I sucked in the sun with sweet contentment. Little did I know that they would end up being an Ode to the Spring that Never Came. Ooh spring, why do you hide? Why must I must painfully try to explain your absence like an unfaithful lover? Or something like that. For we have had nothing but rain and the temperatures are the coldest that they have been in years ("Je crois depuis les 1800 et quelques," decried the gentle lady on the quay with her blind bloodhound baying at her side). Yesterday, Remi and I took a rare break at a café for our first "Monaco" of the season and the waiter announced that the temperature had dropped eleven degrees (Celsius) within the past two days. No wonder everyone was a-chooing around us. And sure as shootin', when I took the pups out thirty minutes later, the sky chose that precise moment to open up and let go. Merci! 

Everyone is cranky, even Kipling, who is tired of me towel-drying the disco crimps on his ears. 

And me?

I am positively green. Green with what I will let you infer...all while wishing you a Bon Weekend...








Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Overflow


The words just kept on flowing out. 

I was excited to be making the cross over with a blog acquaintance and her friend from the virtual world to reality, especially as it had popped out of the big blue. A little shy too because I am sometimes. And so the words kept coming out in an overflow, covering and revealing.


As grateful as I am for all of my contacts with the online community, I miss the simple joy of delighting in girlfriend time, especially with such a lovely and engaging duo. The expat community in Arles is tiny dots and so it is extremely rare that I sip San Pellegrino with women who speak the same language, have the same cultural references and laugh at the same second with an acknowledgement of a certain play on words. Face to face, seeing flickers of expression, I realize that many French women that I know keep a far more steely control and that the exchange is based more on dialogues than volleys.


This difference brewed like a wealth of communication in comparison on this particular rainy afternoon. A casual reassurance rested somewhere next to the straw on the table between us by just being present.


A bit like sunset up on the roof that spills the brim of its cup. And so were my words, pulling a string of scarves out of a silk top hat, to chase from red to pink to gold. Stories to tell and be heard. For once I will try not to worry if it was too much.

I woke up wondering. I remember that I am lucky but also that I feel what I know. A sugar sort of bittersweet overflow.




Monday, May 27, 2013

Learning the ropes



It is hard, nearly impossible, to think that we adopted Kipling four months ago. The scars tracing his belly where his horribly large intestinal hernia was repaired have healed and his coat has grown back fine, although not yet to his proud puffed chest of before. I see the time passing when I look into his eyes, those eyes that were closed tight to near slits with fear when we first met him and are now, only now, really open. Open with trust. It is beginning. And it feels wonderful. 


Remi and I still have peace to make with the fact that someone could abandon such a wonderful one. 


When he sneaks under the table at lunch and rests his head on my feet, I know that it is something that he did before, in his previous home. When he looks up at our bed with longing, I know that too is something he knew in his other life. So then, why?


It is a question I am trying to let go of as the now begins to balance the weights of his past. I see him learning the ropes, again, with us. When we are in the country, how proud he is when he remembers to come back to us as he will go far so far ahead, at times too far, in big circles to the side so that we wonder if he was used in hunting to flush out game. And certainly, he licks his lips at our towns pigeons and strains to reach the cats. He is no angel...


...nor devil either. We call him coquin or rascal, it was Remi who started it, just like he was the one to choose Kipling for the adventure of it all. For who knows what happened during those ten days while he was waiting for his owner to come out of the shopping center? His front teeth are broken, making it nearly impossible to know his age--did that happen then? But he has, amazingly, retained a sense of humor, one he is only beginning to show. He would make a fine poker player. 

All I know is that he remembers. I believe he would follow us to the ends of the earth. 


And Ben? Not to worry. Ben has all the love he has ever had...


...and is discovering what it is to have a copain to boot. For the first time. Learning the ropes. 

It is never too late.



Mais oui, you did not think that I could end there, did you? Really? No. Because you see...well, I am calling out to mes amis français...oui, je sais que vous êtes la grâce aux statistiques même si vous ne me communique pas! Vous êtes nombreuses en plus...Are there any of you who would be interested in adopting this fine gentleman? His name is Lou and although he is ten, he is in fine form...Just think of all of the love that he could give! Look at that perfect Golden smile...I know that he is a special boy and if I didn't live in an apartment in town I would go all Bruce Weber and adopt a brood. For their love is spectacular I have to say....Camille, who told us about Kipling says that he is a sweetheart that gets along with everyone and everything.

If you are interested in having more information about Lou, please see: Here.

Many thanks to my friend at teamgloria for mentioning Kiplings adoption today. You can see her lovely portraits of her friend Richard and his Golden, Diego: Here.

For those of you that missed it, I guest-posted on the lovely idea of "Provence Time" chez the brilliant D. A. Wolf's "Daily Plate of Crazy": Here.

And for my friends in the States that are commemorating Memorial Day, I was deeply moved by the tribute that my friend NK wrote, especially as she is par norm a brilliant comedic writer so this is all the more surprising and beautiful: Here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Where the wild things are



Am I the only one that talks to trees? I don't think so but just the act of tip, tap typing that question makes me realize the oddballity of it. 


But I believe in them. As in have Faith.


We spied the row of oaks outside of Simiane-la-Rotonde and were drawn to them, moth to a flame.


"C'est les centenaires," Banco, the owner of La Buissonade, our cottage rental explained. He knows. He walks this land every day with his dog at his side.

 

Centuries old. 

So much life has passed by its bark, so many storms and flitting butterflies.


The sun was starting to slide as we found the path that lead to them. A path they lined, that had once lead to somewhere. A home, a chapel, a forgotten village.


The largest oak looked even more alive than it was, as if it could wrap its branches around me with a wap and I'd be gone. So I told it thank you for standing guard, solid strong for all of this time...


...here where the wild things are.

I want to extend a sincere thank you to all of you that responded to my previous post either in the comments or by email. What an amazing community and I feel grateful to be a reason for such fine minds to come together.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.


UPDATE: Hello there! If you are seeing this on Sunday, I am delighted to be guest-posting over a the truly amazing D.A. Wolf's "Daily Plate of Crazy" on the idea of Provence Time...liking that concept? I thought that you would!
The link is Here.







Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Respect


My heart goes out to the families and all that have been touched by the horrific tornado that decimated Moore, Oklahoma. Watching the video of the storm, I was transfixed by the twister's howl. The sound rung in my ears long after, as memories from childhood rose to the surface. I lived in Mason, Michigan from the ages of seven to eleven. During that time, two tornados passed over the town. In both instances, I was struck by the utter quiet beforehand, that even the birds stopped singing and the sky sucked into itself like a bruise. And in the second case, I was at my elementary school. We stayed in the classroom until the windows began to shake, then were lead outdoors hand in hand, backs against the building's brick walls, to the underground shelter. We were there for quite some time. Some of the other children began to cry and our teacher's comforted us, just as the teacher's in Moore must have done. I have the greatest respect for their bravery and efforts.


I had already been thinking about the power of Nature over the previous few days. Just when we thought that spring had finally arrived, the rains came and more fell in a day than in the month past. The Rhone, that rife river that borders our town, rose over night to the highest levels that I have seen in the past eight years that I have seen since calling Arles home. As I arrived the morning after with the dogs for our morning walk, my jaw dropped in surprise. Our walkway along the quay had been covered, blocked off with a current strong enough to pull entire trees, ripped from their roots, down and down. We all stopped, listening to current's roar. Nature's force is also to be respected. And feared.


Last night the word "respect" was evoked in a context that disturbed me greatly. Dominique Venner, a 78 year-old essayist and activist of the extreme right in France, walked into Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral at a little after 4 p.m., left a letter on the altar and then shot himself in the mouth. Fifteen hundred visitors were evacuated. And while the contents of the letter have not been yet made public, Venner wrote a post on his blog on Tuesday denouncing the same-sex marriage law that has recently been signed into law in France as well as warning of the country's takeover by "Islamists." He said his act was "a call to sacrifice"--that symbolic gestures such as his were needed more than words--especially regarding the upcoming protest against same-sex marriage on May 26. Upon hearing the news of Venner's act, Marine Le Pen, the head of the Front National political party, which is also extreme right, offered "all of our respect to Dominique Venner" and that his "eminently political"  suicide was meant to "wake up the people of France." While Dominique Venner was considered to be a marginal of the extreme right, Marine Le Pen is its queen, one who received over 20% of the popular vote in certain regions during the previous presidential election and is a front-runner for the next. Her vision of respect frightens me as I believe equality is an integral part of its meaning. And that hatred or intolerance are its antonym. 


I didn't sleep well because of it and so was still slightly groggy as I headed back to the house with the dogs. A screech of tires pushed me awake as a long black Audi went the wrong way on a one way side street to cut over to the main street in front of our house. I pulled the dogs up on to the sidewalk just in time. The driver's face was impassive. As I turned the corner, I was amazed to see a huge delivery truck barrelling towards us and the black Audi--now stopped and pulled half way into an alley--also going the wrong way down this, another one way street. The van slammed to a halt and the young driver asked the woman in the Audi if she could pull forward a yard so that he could pass. She blankly refused without offering an explanation. He begged her, "Please Madame, please," explaining that he was blocked in behind, then slowly became angry in frustration. She became equally so and would not move. I could hear their yelling escalate as I quickly herded the dogs indoors. From the window above, I watched along with the local shop-keepers who had cell phones in hand ready to call the police. Finally, the truck driver said, "Fine, if you aren't going to move, then I will make you move." He got back into his truck and made to ram the Audi, skidding to a halt at the last moment. The woman stared at him stonily. He slowly backed the truck with difficulty down the way he had come, returning at a run to spit on the windshield of the Audi while pounding the hood. After he had left, the woman waited until she was sure he had gone, then leisurely made the move he has asked of her. It was so easy and only took a minute. Does the fact that this woman was white and the young man was of North African descent have something to do with how things played out? I don't know. But both showed a lack of respect. For the law, for our fellow human beings and animals. 


There seems to be a violence in the air, literally and figuratively. 


So stay safe everyone. And let us be respectful of all that is around us. 

And within us too.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lucky you



Lucky you.

That phrase kept coming back to me last week like a boomerang, one always thrown with the finest of intentions. 

Lucky you to live in Provence. "Yes, yes, I know," I respond, automatically. For that is the awaited reply, the proper one as well. 

But as I have mentioned in the past, just because I hang my hat in this lauded region doesn't mean that the everyday stress of life magically disappears. So while all is relatively well, health intact etc., Remi and I found ourselves in strong need of a soupape, a breather to let off the steam fogging up our vision.

We have discovered something of a spot of the "c'est réellement un spot ici" kind. It isn't terribly well known, even amongst the Provençaux. A Secret Provence? Yes, it does exist but if you think I am going to tell you where it is, you overestimate my otherwise generous nature...at least for now.

Perhaps I am simply being my superstitious self. For every time we visit, no matter what worries pre-occupy our busy minds, they disappear like dandelion fluff. I am holding tight to my little talisman.

Yesterday the rain threatened, bullyishly, despite having already trapped us inside all weekend. But it passed. The path was still wet and we had to keep a strict eye on the furry ones who longed to roll in the mud.

For the first time, I had taken my camera with me, certain that the act of choosing to look would bring about something positive as it always does. And although I am not as thrilled with the photos as I was in taking them, I am content in the memory of that two hour stroll.

For as that golden light, the one that side-swipes the dark broke through, I stopped walking for a moment and a thought without thinking misted over me: "It really is beautiful, Provence." Vision cleared.

Lucky me.