Friday, October 17, 2014

Sometimes simple, Part two




I can hear my neighbor, Michel, clipping flowers across our steps-wide street. He is slow and methodical in his movements and yet is never pretentious about his plants despite their beauty. He is retired now after having worked for years as a coiffeur in England and when he first moved to this village many years ago they called him "L'Anglais" despite his being very much French. His first attempts at potting flowers were met with secret scorn as was his arrival. He would wake to find petals ripped from their stems or poisoned roses.

Le méfiance is still present, running like an underground current, although happily there are now so many "foreigners" who live here that they are no longer mistreated. But I can feel that Remi and I are being watched to see how we will behave, if  we will offer a "Bonjour" or not, whether we will be respectful of keeping noise to a minimum (we are) and if our dogs will be a nuisance (Kipling, occasionally).  I don't mind it actually. It seems something of a normal reaction in such a particularly delineated space where families have been rooted for generations and the neighbors are never anonymous.

It is definitely a change after Arles where it took years to be identified or recognized even in my neighborhood. So many people would come and go throughout the day but not so, here. I can identify the time not only by the tolling church bells but also by the man who drives by with the dog that barks in the backseat or the boy who runs home from school everyday at lunchtime. "How are you settling in? Do you like the house?" the mailman asked this morning in between casual drags on an Indian cheroot. I told him that I did and how I was appreciating the quiet after having lived in Arles. "Ah, if that is what you are looking for, then this is the place for you," he responded before pushing his cart down the lane.

Downshift, downshift, downshift. Manhattan, Paris, Arles and now this old village. At times the lack of sound pools around me like a grandpa sweater, at others it feels as tight as a leather glove against my skin. It is just a change to get used to, even if a positive one and yes, sometimes simple is best. But now that I am settling in to this new house, I have inklings that even that word is just a label, another question of perspective. What I see and feel remains complex no matter the backdrop. And that is just fine by me. It's all good, really good. For now, as the dust of new continues to settle, I can always count on the reliable gifts of the golden tick of the light and beauty's swan sway as compasses instead.















Have a great weekend everyone...



PS. The wonderful La Contessa just wrote about meeting a special blog friend while she was in Paris recently.  Ellie is an American expat married to a Frenchman who writes at Have Some Decorum. Most of us know how fantastic such meetings can be and this was no exception. La Contessa encouraged us all to take a look at her writings. Well, I have to pass on the word because I am crazy for her blog. As in I just might need to go back and read every post she has written, verging on stalker crazy for her blog. She tells amazing stories, is hysterically funny, smart as a whip, has phenomenal taste...and has ALS disease. It certainly doesn't define her or her relationships but it also means that she has decided to tell it exactly how she sees it without mincing words. I find her and her writing incredibly inspiring not to mention just really fun and you might too. You can find her blog by clicking: http://havesomedecorum.blogspot.fr/


32 comments:

  1. STALKER CRAZY..........OH HEATHER thats just HOW I FELT!!!I couldNOT get enough!I sat here for three consecutive mornings reading HER other POSTS.I think ,I HOPE I have read them ALL.She says it like it is and I adore HER for that!ADORE...............I think I might be using that word too much but that is how I FEEL!
    SO, you have a hairdresser across the way?!!!That will come in handy...........perhaps you can trade some VEGGIES for a BLOW OUT!!What fun too to have an English speaking person in your village!Love to YOU!XOXO

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    1. No, no he is retired. :) And we speak French. But there is another American here...I have been too shy to seek her out but need to get over it as she is always lovely when we do meet...
      And yes, am reading Ellie a few posts a day and then am cutting myself off so as to actually get things done...but am super aware of how gushy I am in the comments...eh oui, but she is worth it!

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  2. As always, you inspire. I enjoyed this little 'slice of life' piece on your new home. And I have been thinking about the concept of 'home' quite a lot lately. Also, your photos continue to inspire -- time to put away the iPhone that I used almost exclusively on my travels and get serious with my camera.

    Thank you for the link to Ellie. She is truly amazing. As are you.

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    1. Thank you Judith, that is a lovely thing to say! But be careful...she is an addictive read...

      And yes, you too have some serious potential shifts ahead of you but I know that home will be where your honey and Karina are...you already proved that this summer...

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  3. Heather, this is beautiful. What a vivid picture you paint of your new life, and what awareness you bring to the complexities of a seemingly simple spot. Moving around must emphasize that no matter where you go, there you are, and that we bring our own personalities to the places where we put down roots - yes they influence us, but rarely to they tease out what is at our very own core. I've pretty much lived in the same spot in my life, so haven't had that experience (except through travel) so I'm so glad I can get an inkling of what it may be like through your gorgeous words.

    Thanks for the tip on Ellie, and thanks so much for your kind words over at chez moi. They are HUGELY appreciated.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of the gorgeousness of fall in Provence! XOXO

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    1. No fall gorgeousness here this year...at least yet! But rather an extended été indien...Jeanne, I always love your take (and my Sister's too - you two often have similar but different ways of seeing things) on what I am throwing out there. And it is interesting that for me, when I travel it is a chance for...tabla rasa...I don't feel the pull of past or future and that is why I love it so much - plus, you can be anyone when you travel...no one knows the difference but you... ;)

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  4. don't see it as a down shift...it' s different and perhaps the right thing/place what you just need. Who knows what
    interesting stories you will tell about this little village and their people

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    1. I mean a downshift in terms of rhythm and sound, R. The quiet here is huuuuge! :)

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  5. Reading you is always like a meditation for me, in the best possible way.

    And I also visited Ellie's blog at La Contessa's urging. Wonderful!

    Bon weekend!

    xo

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    1. You have mentioned that before friend and I appreciate it so much...such a fine compliment...

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  6. Beautiful as always and how I envy you the quiet and the stillness. There is a constant hum here I have come reluctantly to accept as something like silence, but it's not. The rise and fall of the traffic is at its least offensive like mechanical waves on a beach, but not really. How I long for that grandpa sweater. XXXX G

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    1. You can borrow mine any time you want. You know that...but it really has been surprising how destabilizing this quiet has been for me, wonderful but oh so different...

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  7. You really got me with your take on simple!! A matter of perspective - YES, just like the Buddhist idea of emptiness!! Like things really are simple/empty, but then we/our minds add all this CRAP. Even if we move to the beautiful countryside! But it's good to be okay with that, and don't forget that you direct us towards simplicity in everyone of your blog posts, and for that we are very grateful. 😊

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    1. Sister, you are so awesome! That is exactly what I meant! Whooeee, I am feeling mighty proud of myself for touching on a Buddhist concept, albeit accidentally...oh wait, that is ego...heehee... ;)
      I looove youuuuu.

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  8. p.s. Went over to "have some decorum" - love her!

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  9. The simplicity is new perspectives and with time will find accommodation, warmth and friendliness of the neighbors and village. The discovery of simple living in the countryside.

    I love those stones and concrete steps and the beginning signs of fall.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Thank you Edgar, it was a lovely one...ended in the garden last night putting up a fence. Good working. :)

      I hope that yours was as well...

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  10. Exceptionally beautiful photos today. I love that you can tell the time by the sound of the boy running home for lunch. That is the simplicity.

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    1. G, he always runs at breakneck speed...his Mom must be a seriously good cook! :)

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  11. Dear H,
    I like the way you are able to put in words what I really feel In my heart and soul. This why I choose your blog as one of my favourite!
    "Simple" is true, it is easy but is above all fantastic!
    I will have a look at the blog you mentioned.
    Have a nice weekend my dear!

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    1. Grazie mille, Emilia. I so enjoyed strolling around Rome "with you" this weekend through your photos. You truly are a romantic at heart...it is one of the things that link us!

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  12. Dear Heather,
    thank you so much for the kind words regarding me and my blog. So glad you like it. I love that this blog has opened up so many avenues to meet new and interesting women. And you and I are neighbors! I just started reading your blog and I am already hooked. Going to spend the rest of the evening going back through every one of your blog postings. Great photos, by the way! XOXO Ellie

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    1. Oh good...although I fear after a post or two you decried "Navelgazer!" (it has been that kind of summer)...but still that gives me some consolation for absolutely gushing chez toi with all of the urgency of that one kid in the back row of the classroom who is practically jumping out of his seat to raise his hand, "Me! Me!" I get really excited over new discoveries such as your perspective on things...but I will calm down. ;)
      Bisous to you. So happy to have found you and your wonderful writing and to spread the word.

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  13. Thank you for your beautiful description of the personal and physical movement involved in relocating...I related and felt your words while I read them...I was a "military brat" all my childhood, and have chosen to enjoy the world, with a base in Australia, as an adult...France resonates with me too...as a second home...

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    1. Louise, we moved around quite a bit too when I was a child. I wonder if that makes it easier or harder for us to be "citizens of the world" later on...? And thank you for this comment - it was also a great reason to discover your blog. :)

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  14. Confucius say, "nice white cat is best reward for uplooking."

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    1. Oh, he did, did he? I must have missed that one...

      That photo was for you of course...

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  15. You have an amazing ability to make us feel as if we are there in your life with you, that's a rare quality. Love the poetic prose and the photos :)

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    1. Thank you Keith! And you have the wonderful quality of bringing to light things that we wouldn't have thought about otherwise.
      Namaste.

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  16. Petals ripped from their stems or poisoned roses?

    It seems you really are in Pagnols world (;

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  17. Congratulations on having been writing such a great blog for so long! I really enjoy following you!

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    1. Yay! Thank you so much Caroline. And may I say? Cute haircut in your profile pic! ;)

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