Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wandering through the forest, away from home



Who are you when you are away from home?

Do you feel like you carry yourself intact - your own little bubble bouncing within the big blue marble - wherever you are? Or do you feel the edges start to blur and shift as they tend to when you are picking your way through an unknown forest, senses alive and prickling?

I have been away from Provence - and from Remi and the dogs - since May 28th. My Mom took time off to be with me for a week and we all helped my Sister move into a beautiful new home. During those busy days, filled with action and movement, I strode forth as Heather Who Lives in France, carried by the song of my life there. But now my Mom and Sister have gone back to their normal schedules and I am spending quite a bit of time alone.

Already, I have found the ground to be a bit slippery underfoot. The tune of "Who I Am" is slowing down and in the quiet of this undefined environment, certain notes are hanging off the bottom of the scale. I don't particularly mind. 

When Remi and I were travelling for our work, I came to relish that stripping down process. The rich simplicity of directly and continually encountering something new. There is usually little room for the noise in our personalities during such experiences. 

Here too I see how malleable I am. To pick me up and put me down somewhere else, amidst other loves and interests feels like an opportunity, not only to express other aspects of who I can be - such as being literally and culturally understood - but within the remove of my daily definitions to remember the core of my heart.

Step by step, I crunch across the leaves, I lift my legs over the fallen branches and rise up on tip-toe to try and take in the view.














Even within such seeming stillness, much is happening...


30 comments:

Maywyn Studio said...

Good question. Its wonderful to read the way you look at life.

For some strange unknown reason, At O'Hare, every time I stepped off the plane I felt new no matter how tired, cranky or blah I actually was. Its been almost 40 years since I've been there. I think a lot has changed except the exhilarating memory of knowing I could go as far as my money could take me. The airport was like the umbilical cord to Earth...and there I was born. From that experience, I know that who I am, wherever I am, depends on how well I can sense that feeling of freedom.

puppyfur said...

I, too, know this feeling. It is strange, and moving. But I am 14 months away from the last time I experienced this in my old home, New England. I usually have butterflies in my stomach throughout my visit, too. I've never been able to figure that, but it's strange and welcomed at the same time. You've described it more beautifully than I ever could.

Heather Robinson said...

This is just incredibly beautiful. Thank you. I know I will think of it often. Freedom is so precious to me.

Heather Robinson said...

I doubt it as your image of the butterflies is spot on! We embrace the differences as we can and yet it is so exciting...and for me at times I am scared before I go of how I will feel...

david terry said...

Dear Heather,

Today is my birthday, you're in America,and you STILL haven't telephoned me.

I don't know if I'm going to be able to get over this wound that you haveinflicted upon me, particularly given the degree to which I have, over all these years, completely exhausted my energies, time, and financial/emotional resources in support of you and your blog.

I can't believe (but I supose I HAVE to do so) that you would forget my birthday. I can't express how much this hurts.....right here and right now.

Yours in sudden, but unavoidably inescapable sorrow......

Uncle David
www.davidterryart.com

emilia tremante said...

Dear Heather,
My father emigrated to Venezuela during the fifties in search for a better life and stayed there for twelve years. Before leaving Italy he was a mariner in Naples Harbour and travelled a lot. He went back to Italy in the early sixties because of the political situation of that country but he never stopped to love traveling and transmitted his passion at me and my sister. It is thanks to him that I left Italy for Great Britain and France alone, to learn new languages and "new worlds" as he used to say. My travel experiences have changed my life for ever. I realized that I could live on my own, interact with other people in different settings, expand my horizons. The inner part of myself came out to life. I was different everything was different to me from that moment.
Yes, I truly think that traveling is not only "an opportunity to express other aspects of who we can be but to remember the core of our hearts".

Loree said...

I've travelled to places where my soul feels at home, as if it had been there before - even though physically, it hadn't. And then I go to other places that feel alien to me no matter how many times I visit. I am afraid the US is one of those places :( I really feel like a stranger in a strange land there and I don't know why that is. Maybe because I personally have no roots there.

Suze said...

Magnificent images, love.

I read the back cover of a memoir yesterday in which the author, a woman called Kristen, writes from the perspective of Kristin-Adjacent when she travels--essentially an unmoored version on herself.

You are experiencing Heather-Adjacent. She seems, essentially, just as much an aesthete (among the most noble things a person can be, to my way of thinking) as Heather Who Lives in France.

Lorrie said...

Unmoored. What a great word Suze used. When I lived in South America, I often longed for home. But when I was in Canada, I was not entirely at home, either. Isak Dinesen wrote that she longed for a place where she was completely at home. We find that after time, then when we cast off from the mooring, there's a sense of being adrift, floating, not quite comfortable, but very aware of possibility.

silkannthreades said...

Away from home? Another blogger and I were talking about the elderly in nursing homes who ask/beg relatives to take them 'home'. We wondered which home they are talking about? I wondered which home I will call for? Is the home we call for our true home? Your photos seem to show you are at home in the forest/natural landscape/ the theatre of nature.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

Interesting post, Heather, as I am usually introduced by name and the phrase, ". . .she travels." or "she's never home." both of which make me sound like a rootless idiot bouncing around the world without sense of direction or purpose. But the whole concept of 'home' is an interesting one isn't it? Home is where the heart is, perhaps still best defines the who and where of our lives. And since David is a regular contributor here and I feel like I've gotten to know him through your blog, let me wish him a Happy Birthday!!

simpleimages2 said...

"Step by step, I crunch across the leaves, I lift my legs over the fallen branches and rise up on tip-toe to try and take in the view."
And the beauty of what you see is experienced. A new abundance.

Judith Ross said...

This post is amazingly aligned with a transition taking place here in our home. Our traveler is finding his footing, realizing how beloved his last 'home' had become and wondering why we don't all immediately recognize how much he has changed inside. When I travel, and especially when I am alone, which is rare these days, I am hyper-aware of my edges, where and how I fit - or not- in my new surroundings. It is a bit of a rebirth, a loosening of those boundaries, as you express better than I ever could.

And, it feels a little strange to see surroundings so similar to my own show up in your blog!

david terry said...

Oh, Jackie....I know what you're talking about. For various reasons, all-too-many ( at least in my opinion, although I keep quiet about the matter) folks introduce or refer to me as "Oh, David's an ARTIST.....he doesn't work" (etcetera) or "You can't ever get hold of David....you know how these ARTITS are..." and "Oh WELL......you know how these English majors are!". It's all supremely irritating in its reductiveness, particularly since they usually say these things while they're shoving my food down their mouths....and I wonder who they think cleaned the house, shopped for the food, cooked it, served it, and no doubt will be cleaning up afterwards (just for the record?...it's been a couple of decades since any of them stayed behind, after a dinner party, to help clean up).

On the much-brighter side of things?....Miss Heather called me on the telephone yesterday, and we spent a very merry hour& a half wildly skipping from topic to topic (books, travels, how-nice-Remi-is, how utterly inept the State Deparment's Visa adminstration is, etcetera, ad infinitum). It was so much good, invigorating fun that it brought out the retired skoolmarm in me; I promptly sat down at the computer and ordered six books I want Heather to read.....and, yes, I had them mailed in care of her Mommer (who will, I hope, dole them out to Heather as\and if she continues to mind hermanners while visiting Ypsilanti).

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Glamour Drops said...

This feeling seems to be a continuing one…developing, as it were, from your last couple of months at "home" in Provence…that feeling of things not quite being settled, not quite being secure, not quite being content….perhaps it will sort itself out when you move into your new home. But it seems to me that "home" for you is always going to be a forest of some sort or another…whichever continent; that seems to be your special place where your soul is allowed to wander freely on tangents.

Oh, and as an aside, this forest in your images is incredibly beautiful….

robin said...

Beautiful words and photos, as always! I don't travel much these days, but find that "who I am" can vary even when I stay put, depending on things such as my company, my mood/outlook, etc. And certain things always help me remember the core of my heart: family, nature, my puppies, my music, meditating, etc. We are grateful to have you here, in whatever state you are in - the understatement of the year! p.s. I love the mushroom and the side-of-pines pic - wishing I had prints of those to hang in our new home!!

Heather Robinson said...

Yes, for those that read the comments here - this worked! I picked up the phone and called David immediately upon reading it and we had a fantastic conversation. He is as smart, funny and wonderful as his comments here are...

Heather Robinson said...

Emilia, I agree with you entirely and know that the travelling that Remi and I did together was the most important, most formative thing that I have managed to do in my life so far. It utterly changed me and how I saw the world and most certainly the people in it.

In a small town like Arles, it is really easy to tell who has always stayed there for their lives and who has "gotten out" - even if they did return. Sadly to say, a lot of the extremist politics seem to come from those who have a very, very limited version of what the world can be...

Heather Robinson said...

I know what you mean, Loree. I certainly felt that way when I moved to France and still don't feel as though I "belong" there even though I do love it so. And I had an incredible experience on my first trip to Florence, Italy, where I was so at home that it freaked me out! I wondered if I had lived there in a past life...?

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you for the kind words, Sweets. An aesthete is a mighty fine compliment to my ears! You know, I think that I am different from Kristin because I have always been on the move - we moved quite a bit in my childhood and how many, many times in my young adulthood so I actually might feel better on the move? Maybe. I'll have to think about that.
Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

This is so beautifully put, Lorrie. And I know this dichotomy well, very well. I think that the place that I felt most at home was either Santa Cruz, California (where no matter how "unusual" I was no one would bat an eye) or afterwards in Manhattan (ditto plus the utter sense of possibility that you mention and the respect for art) - but both of those were linked to very specific ages in my life too. As I mentioned to Suze, I might feel more adrift in my everyday life right now.

Heather Robinson said...

This is a really interesting idea, as tinged with sadness as it may be. I think that someone who is certain of their home, most certainly in these nomadic times, is truly blessed. And thank you, yes, after many years of city living, I am very, very attracted now to the free for the taking beauty of the nature of my youth.

Heather Robinson said...

David, I am so excited about your extremely generous gift - I keep looking out for the mail truck to arrive! And it really was so much fun to talk to you - not a word I usually would apply towards a conversation but fun it was...

Jackie, it is odd to be defined by what we do (or don't do), isn't it? I know that when Remi and I were travelling so much for work, we had a lot of difficulties making new friends because of those same definitions. But we both know how truly incredible it is to have the gift of travel under our wings. It is worth all of the teasing in the world... ;) And as you are fortunate, as I am, to travel with your partner in life, well, our Home is portable too...

Heather Robinson said...

Travelling, even during a walk that we have taken many times, always gives us the opprtunity to experience something new. I know that you know that Edgar. :)

Heather Robinson said...

Judith, these photos were actually taken in Provence too, on the trip when we rented the mazet - actually all of the recent photos are from that time. I haven't downloaded any of the photos that I have taken while here in the States yet and honestly this trip I have barely taken any!

I understand K's feelings very well - even if I have never been on such an extensive and indepth journey. I wish him well as he transitions back to this culture and a very different lifestyle in the States.

Heather Robinson said...

Virginia, I know that through our friendship, you "see" me more clearly than a lot of people do but still this did surprise me as it is so true for me. I am very much looking forward to the new house, to moving, to starting again. And yes, I dearly hope that this sense of unsettledness, which I feel even here in the States (never the case) will dissipate then...

Heather Robinson said...

Oh you do? Which is the "side of the pines" pic, Sister? Enquiring minds want to know!

And I think of you as someone that is always in touch with the core of your heart. :)

Clare M said...

Love this post! I think this is the best thing about travel - even if it's somewhere we've been before. We find other aspects of ourselves. Amazing!

Clare x

Rudri said...

Love the photographs and your musings, Heather. The line that resonated with me the most is the one at the end - how stillness is not as pure as one envisions. There is always a backstory.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you for the kind words, Rudri. It is interesting because now I live in the country and am far more aware of how much is going on even in the quiet!