Tick tock goes the clock, whether we are listening or not.
For you see, it happened on October 24th.
And so it was with a blip of a giggle that I realized that I had wizzed right by the fourth anniversary for Lost in Arles, just as I had already zoomed blindly past my 500th post, whoops! Does this really mean that I have spent four whole years of wandering and looking, of trying to put meaning where it should be and taking it out where it shouldn't? That is a lot of time following around my own shadow. But so much has happened...we have moved (twice!), adopted Kipling, Remi accomplished his dream of being published in National Geographic magazine, I was interviewed about this blog both for a magazine and live on national television...it has grown to about 20,000 visits per month...and that is just the big stuff...the mind reels!
If I had originally zapped the date it was because I had been fixated on that of October 27th, which it turns out, was not the beginning of this particular endeavor but of a greater one in my moving to France thirteen years ago to be with the man I love, Remi. Lucky me, lucky thirteen. So today I am celebrating two anniversaries and they are intertwined as they should be. There are so many, many sweet memories that are diving into an interesting present with a hopeful gaze towards the future. That is about where I am at right now.
Do other bloggers look back at their work? I don't. I admit it. As with my professional writing, it is the tap, tap, tap that I enjoy. When I hit publish after a swishy wipe of my palms, I move on. And yet, anniversaries are made for reflecting and so I poked around in the archives. Provence, Remi and the puppers, beauty and patina are all there - of course! But, after having gone through them a bit, I can also safely say that I am proud that I stuck to my guns by making all of the content myself. Plus, I realized that I have learned so much from this blog - about writing, photography and how the two can work together - as well as that there are certain ideas that keep attracting my interest and have from the beginning.
In March of 2011 for Something like Heaven? :
"Grace. To be touched by something greater than ourselves. Missing for so many of us, myself included, in this world of noise. How lovely to want to believe, to believe in general, to believe in everything. I could feel my heart."
In October of 2011 in the post Traces:
"Digging down a little deeper, I have become increasingly aware of how flexible our personalities are, those outer traces of our inner spirit. I might be nearly unrecognizable to some of my companions of years gone by...For we see what we want to, we pick and choose and turn a blind eye. Would we still find the desire to be a part of each other's lives? Continuity in relationships can be a blessing as it necessitates that a certain flexibility is built in, one that involves seeing beyond personality and the temporary swoosh of life."
From September 2012 in The weight of a cricket:
"Just in the simple act of seeing, something shifts slightly. With the acknowledgement that beauty surrounds me, a door starts to crack open. The shape of the irises, their bended elegance, draws me in until I spy perched on one ever so lightly, a bright green cricket. His antennas stop wiggling under my gaze but he does not flee. I slowly lower my face towards him. He is not alone. Nor am I. Inexplicably, I am filled with utter joy that expands to shake the clouds down. How giddy I become in remembering that hope repeats. What a fool to forget. My clock starts ticking at twelve. Anew, anon. The scales have been tipped and all with the weight of a cricket."
From August 2013 in Suspended in Amber:
"The streets of Arles are solid but also shady and shaking. I have lived here for eight years now, quite some time for a nomad like me. I walk them in patterns and loops, where the dogs lead, I follow. That too can be dulling blind until the light shifts and on the wall in front of me and an angle aligns or a sign is revealed, one that I had somehow never seen. A bit of magic and blink are the must of these little gifts. It is a moment that inevitably makes me smile and snaps the amber quick to set me buzzing free."
From this past September for White bird in the snow:
"I realize that this isn't a subject that touches everyone and that there are plenty of you that are already living true to your authentic selves. But it is interesting to me, now. And I am listening. And besides, what is the underlying force that lies at the root of us all? Connectedness. It is, wonderfully, what is always present in our ever changing world...It can be good to explore blind terrain from time to time as just maybe, maybe we will sense those nearly invisible territories in front of us, as yet indiscernible as the white bird in the snow."
If you have been reading for a while, you might know that I struggle with my memory. So there is that too, a trigger for the repeat. But for me, these are also little connecting lines of electricity that keep the wires alive...and hopefully they do for you as well. For while I started this blog for me, it has become a path to all of you. I feel like we are in this together now, which is really wonderful, non?
And so to thank you for being here these past four years, I am so excited to be offering my very first giveaway.
I loved Ann Mah's "Mastering the Art of French Eating" when I was generously offered an advance copy to review last year. You can read all about it here...and below:
"The premise is as follows--Ann is finally able to spend a three year stint in the city of her dreams, Paris, when Calvin, her diplomat husband, is transferred for a year in Baghdad, leaving her alone in the City of Light. Now, it is harder than one might think being an expat, yes even in Paris and yes, even if Ann already had plenty of experience in moving from country to country. It would take as strong a woman as she is not to fall into a whimpering series of "Whyyyyy?"'s...a strong woman like, say, Julia Child? Ah ha. Inspired by Julia's efforts to document la cuisine française in the legendary "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and fueled by her own insatiable curiosity, she decided to visit ten different regions to get to the heart--the how's and why's plus the je ne sais quoi's--of each area's signature dish."
Ann's writing is incredibly immediate, warm, funny and not to mention very well-researched. She puts all of her hard-won experiences on the page in a truly delightful manner devoid of both flippancy or heavy-handedness. Plus, she is just a genuinely lovely person and that shows up too. If you like food, travel and love (and something tells me that you do if you have been hanging out here)...then quite simply, you will like this book.
Interested? I thought that you might be. Ann's book has just been released in a paperback edition. Hallelujah! This makes me seriously happy because I don't know about you but the only time that I can afford hardcovers is when they are gifts. And (hint, hint)...it has been released just in time for the holiday season.
As you can see, Ben and Kipling won't go anywhere without their copy. It makes them dream, "...fromage...cassoulet...steak frites...ahhh, oui..."
To find out more about "Mastering the Art of French Eating" and to read an excerpt, please click here.
If you would like one of your own you can find it on Amazon in Kindle, hardback or paper: here.
You can enter the giveaway by either leaving a comment below or sending me an email at robinsonheather (at) yahoo.com! Hooray!!! Make me proud peeps, feel free to spread the word and I promise to be 100% objective when choosing the winner. Really. :)
I am sending a huge thank you to Ann and all of the nice people at Penguin for making this possible and to YOU for following along and making Lost in Arles so worthwhile...
With all of my Very, Very Best from Provence...
Plus a couple of bisous thrown in just for good measure,
Pop the champers kids, it's my Happy Fourth!
PS. You have one week to enter...go, go, go!
PPS. EDIT: I updated this post to include the original photos that went with the selected texts. Honestly? I have no idea what I was thinking...