Monday, July 28, 2014

The patina of my Secret Provence



While I was visiting my family in the States, I would occasionally think about Provence and my life in France in order to try and regard it with the blessing of remove. I was surprised by how much I longed for the region itself, for the land and its life. Certainly, it has taken root in my heart and not necessarily due to its more obvious charms, of which there are many. No, just as I used to visit certain paintings in the museums of Manhattan so often that I began to consider them as friends (including several Van Goghs whose landscapes would later become a part of my daily life in Arles), so too certain characteristics here have wooed my attention and become dear to me.

 Chief amongst those is patina, the glow of time's way. I missed it's imperfections dearly while in Michigan and wondered if its presence gives one a certain permission not to be brighter, faster and stronger but just to be. There is such psychology in our surroundings. I am fairly certain that I have written this before but patina is forgiving. And I love it for that as well as the sheer beauty present within "I endure."

I know that quite a few of you are impatient to see our new home but she is not yet ready for her close-up. There is a point during every move (and I have been through so many - eight in Manhattan alone, including one that I accomplished solely via subway) when things get much worse just before they get better and we are right in the thick of it. Remi is downstairs sanding the parquet floors and I will have to tackle the boxes in the dressing room as neither of us have anything clean to wear. Each morning I still wake up bone tired, my head in a fog. But oh, how it is worth it. In the quiet of the evenings, I light the candles and we both listen, trying to decipher what the house is telling us to do.

So for now, I hope that you will be contented with two posts featuring some of the details of our new village. I took these photos quite some time ago - long before we had found our house - and have been saving them for our arrival as something of a promise to myself.

And now we are here. Painting and creating traces that will one day become patina of its own.











Have a wonderful beginning to your week, everyone...

55 comments:

  1. I love how much "personality" these places have...so so beautiful.

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  2. Truly, a beautiful post…how I miss the patina of my childhood….and try re-creating it in my American home

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    1. Francine, you have been on my mind lately - how you blend these two so easily in your home and your designs. Plus, we found a great spot for the Jose Esteves lamp in our new house and that is bringing me a lot of happiness.

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  3. An aging patina leaves an indelible mark and I think those of us who have the good luck to visit or, better yet, live in areas appreciated and maintained for their antiquity are indelibly imprinted. As a native Southern Californian, I did not grow up with anything remotely vintage outside of the Spanish missions. Traveling opened my eyes to the beauty of "old". Moving east allowed me to live in the midst of architecture loving preserved. Ironically, the "mid-century" (1950s) California ranch style of my childhood is now considered vintage.

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    1. That is so well said - it is all relative, isn't it? I grew up in the midwest and was really fortunate in that my family only lived in "old" houses so I grew up with a true appreciation for them. But of course "old" was late 1800's while in my first house in Arles, one of the blocks of the foundation was Roman! ;)

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  4. As I clicked on this new post, I realized, with glee, that we would get to explore a whole new village with you! These are wonderful, and I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the virtues of imperfection that patina displays - hear, hear!!! I'm so glad you are seeing Provence anew after weeks in Ypsilanti; we miss you but are so glad that you have a beautiful new home and are back in the place that makes your heart sing!

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    1. Ypsi and A2 make my heart sing too Sister. Not only because I really, really like the places themselves but because there are people that I love so very much are there...

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  5. Thank you for capturing and sharing these details. It was a treat well worth waiting for. And as for aging patina.... I am working on improving my appreciation for that every morning when I look in the mirror ;-). Parquet floors, a dressing room, oh my! Another post that will be well worth the wait.

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    1. It is not as fancy as I made it sound...but it is lovely...you will see... :)

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  6. I could look at those colors forever and never tire of them. The stones seem to breathe and whisper, "look at us, we have been here always." Serene.

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    1. Yep, I find it very comforting too Angie.

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  7. Lovely, Heather. Your wise words about patina make me wonder if that is why I keep so many older, worn, time-soften treasures around me. It makes me happy to see that you've already zeroed in on the beautiful details of your new village - and hopefully that helps combat the chaos and pure exhaustion of making a new house a home. I'm glad that you are taking the time to listen to what the house tells you and know you will make it yours in no time! Happy settling in. XOXO

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    1. We are getting there Jeanne, there are moments already that feel so right.

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  8. (Oh dear. I'm not sure if this is a first comment or a second... The connection burped.) Well, it's certainly worth saying twice if I am - your words and images capture the sensual quality of patina à merveille. (I linger over stone walls when I'm in Paris and run the palm of my hand across their surfaces. Nothing quite like it.)

    xo

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    1. Yes! I also love the tactile connection with history that patina provides. It is exceptional.

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  9. My great-aunt used to live in a 500 year old house. Sometimes the paint would flake off the walls and the layer beneath would become visible - a different colour, a different time. I would wonder who had painted it and why they chose that colour. There's something special about age and patina, something that endures beyond ourselves. Have been having some trouble commenting on your posts. Hope this one makes it through.

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    1. I am sorry to hear that you have been having trouble commenting...but I am glad that this got through. Yes, it is the same with this house although it is not 500 years old. I will try to remember to show you a photo of the facade soon so you can see how many colors it has been. It is fascinating. All of those different lives...

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  10. Heather, this is so beautiful!!!!
    xx

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  11. Undeniably gorgeous, and I have a question for you after you're settled and unpacked. What is that plant growing out of the wall? I have a feeling it's probably drought resistant... xox, V

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    1. I have absolutely zero idea what plant that is but there certainly is a lot of it around here...

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  12. May I just say you have a beautiful sister? She obviously loves you very much, as I'm sure you love her. I miss sisterly love and companionship. I'm delighted your move is over...can't wait to see the place!

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    1. Oh by all means, say it as often as you wish! She really is an amazing woman. So incredibly talented (was on Broadway, created an album as a singer-songwriter), smart (she has her own Music Together business) and funny! Not to mention generous and caring as you can see in the comments that she leaves... :)

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    2. Sister! Thank you for saying all those nice things! I would add, "if you spot it, you got it"! Which, as I can attest, you most certainly do! (talented, smart, generous, caring, beautiful, funny - should I go on?). : )

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  13. These images are all so imperfectly beautiful… We went last winter to Savannah and saw and walked through one house built in 1840 that is a really quirky antiques store. Nothing, and I mean, nothing has been done to the house. The walls are crumbling, the wood staircase has never been sanded or stained, and the walls show so many different layers of plaster. Needless to say, it is beautiful and the patina surrounds you as you walk through.
    We all look forward to following your progress and seeing so many more beautiful images!

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    1. Libby, that antiques store sounds amazing!! I would have been out of my mind, no? Someone would have had to drag me out of there! And thanks for the encouragement, there are more to come!

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  14. With so much glass and concrete taking over our city, it is a relief to come to your site and relax into patina and gracious ageing. Thank you. Sending you lots of warm thoughts for the restoration of tired bones and brains.

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    1. I will look forward to seeing how that amazing church that you featured (before the NY Times!) will age. Merci for the well-wishes, they are needed!

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  15. Such nice images of your new village. Nothing quite as exciting (to me anyway), as moving in to a new home that is inviting and charming. The house will speak to you on many levels as you unpack, arrange and settle in with Remi and the puppers!

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    1. We are getting to the fun part, Laura. Actually, I think I will be writing about that next!

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  16. Heather, you are an incredibly talented documenter. I think this taste of your new town before the close-ups of your home is the perfect segue. These images certainly deserve a post in their own right, my dear.

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  17. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Once more your have taken me on your journey...I see you upstairs , sorting thru the boxes, while Remi sands the floors. Your descriptions are, as always..picture perfect!

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    1. Merci! It is a big house, which is nice for two big personalities as Remi and myself. Plenty of space for each person to be...

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  18. Your photos create a "web of relationships" that grows within leading to self-understanding and engagement in the "basic pleasures of simple things". The patina expresses an appreciation of a new way of beauty that "endures".
    Is it a surprise that patina does that?

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    1. Not to me. And I always appreciate that you see the non-emotional side of the photos, from enough of a distance to see the patterns, Edgar.

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  19. unpacking boxes…sanding floors…arranging and rearranging the furniture till it's just right…there is a certain magic in moving in, amongst all the exhaustion (and it is truly that)…but also the joy of settling in somewhere new….the new "home"….and if you have candles burning already, then surely it is already home...

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    1. You probably won't be too surprised that I had the floor plans done in my head before moving day. Our stuff is so heavy that we had too in order to tell the movers "there." But now we are getting down to the little bits and that is the fun part!
      Bisous to you and Henrietta too.

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  20. so awesome what nature and time expose..imperfection pure. You do so well after hard work to enjoy a
    candlelight evening although between dust and boxes. This little time gives you power and courage for the
    next day. I also thought I could never finished all the mess but after a couple of weeks you will only smile and
    forget the hard work which was/is definitely worth....but you know already what I'm talking about after 8 and more
    removels.

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    1. That was just in NYC alone! This is my 4th in France and gosh how many in my childhood? Seven?

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  21. So eager to see your new place, so content to relax in the patina of your environment. Don't work too hard, thanks for stopping by TravelnWrite even though you have so much work in your own world. Take care and enjoy each moment!

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    1. It is Thursday, I will be back to here the rest!!!

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  22. The new green leaves bursting forth from centuries-old plaster is the story here I think.
    And, yes, this could be the beginning of a new book.
    Sending love to all 4 of you....

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    1. Of course you understand perfectly, you always do. Love right back...

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  23. It took time to create the beautiful patina of the old surfaces that you feature in your photos. How can we not expect beauty to develop over time? Instead we live in this instant, I-want-it-all-now culture that places so little value on the process of becoming. Enjoy knowing that you are creating beauty.

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    1. What a gorgeous way to put it Lorrie and a good reminder during what often is hard work. Merci.

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  24. You are killing me! Yes, Michigan would make me long for Provence too (I know, I spent 20 years there). But just being away from Provence, makes us long for our next return. Maybe we can meet up in your new village this fall since we didn't make it to Arles. Good luck with your unpacking. It will all be worth it.

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    1. Oh, there is no disrespect to Michigan - I love it there and we had the most perfect weather while I was there. Everyone said that they deserved it after the winter they had! But you know as well as I what it is to enjoy and be torn between two places...

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  25. Heather, I was so happy when I read this because just recently I thought that beauty, art and creativity can be a friend too. Of course not in the sense of replacing a physical human being close to you but in the sense of a companion something that always accompanies you and grows by your work and affection.

    And it seems as you describe the renovation of her (la maison) that it is exactly this what is taking place right now. (:

    That patina is forgiving is one of my favorites of this post!

    You know, I just came out of hospital from a surgery that turned out to be more than expected...Need to go back to bed now...

    Take your time to give her "la maison" love and enjoy being lost in your secret provence! (:

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  26. Glad to hear about your move Heather, how I love to move !! Yes you are in dust and boxes right now, but you will get there and be happy you made the effort ... but I don't need to tell you that :)
    bon courage, we all look forward to your big reveal

    Sharon
    xx

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