Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leaning into the season


The web of my dreams held me pinned to the bed. With eyes blinking in the dim light sliding beneath the closed shutters, I replayed them, films fluttering. What is it that my mind has been trying to work out? Each night my dreams have been especially long and detailed and I find a thread through of a dose of glamour in them and know that I must be missing that in my vie quotidienne. A bit of something bigger than my daily life. And so I am late in rising and cursing myself for it when the bell rings repeatedly and urgently at the front gate. I throw on some rain boots along with a jacket over my shoulders and open it to meet an agriculteur who is going from house to house selling en gros or stock portions of homegrown potatoes, apples and carrots still covered in mud. He keeps repeating that the potatoes will last until June and that the apples are delicious. I ask him to wait and run back into the house to grab a ten Euro bill. When I return to his truck, demanding eagerly what can I get for that amount as it is all that I have in the house, he replies, "Rien" and turns his back on me abruptly to start knocking loudly on the next door. 

Luckily, the dogs understand that for once the morning walk will be for me. I stride fast and long to release the anger bubbling after that snub until I reach the area that I call the Pines. They whisper to me, "Shhh, shhh." I stand still until I hear it. On the way back, I am cheered by the sight of Mr. Heron, who has earned his title as he is by far the largest and proudest of the birds in the neighborhood. Upon seeing Kipling, the barking rascal, he takes flight with throaty dinosaur clicks but I take it as a sign of good luck as I always do, a coin to put in my pocket.

But it is upon climbing back up to the first floor to finally make the bed that I am given the gift, one that stops me in my tracks. For there on the landing, on the branches of the small Japanese maple that we had brought inside too late and feared for dead...are several pale pink leaves...that have sprung up overnight. "They really weren't there yesterday," I keep reassuring myself but yet here they are. Here they are. I call out to Remi, "Do you want to see something amazing?" He walks towards me with a blink of surprise as to what that word could describe but when he sees, he smiles. 

I have been thinking about the importance of the seasons as of late, especially after having finished reading the very fine "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. It is a non-fiction book in which she describes the choice that her family makes to eat only locally for one year and largely from the produce and poultry that they harvest themselves. It is an effort both harder and easier than what we might imagine, especially as, similar to the art of waiting, many of us have simply forgotten what it is like to do so, not to mention how dearly it costs the planet - economically, geopolitically and culturally - to buy those out of season foods that have to be flown in from so far away. Remi and I have been making a greater effort to buy locally for some time now but it is interesting to think about eating seasonally as well for our bodies know what we need when, instinctively, if we only listen.

And that also goes for our inner world, including the need for extra sleep and dreams. I don't often mention my depression here as it is something that I have lived with and manage since a very long time but it is always at this exact time of year that it slides with the precision of a clock into something a level deeper. That too is to be heard, acknowledged and even respected. There is a time for everything, we all have our seasons within us and yet we often live so mindlessly globally in our current society that we glide somewhere up in the skies of 'all the time and everywhere'. I say that even while nodding knowingly towards my friends in the Southern Hemisphere who are gearing up for the end of summer. My posts have become more verbal and less visual than usual (not to everyone's tastes, I know) as I prepare for the action that is coming soon. For here we are in mid-February and already, we have a bit of spring reaching towards us tenderly through the bare bones of winters remains. And that strikes me as quite honest, somehow. May those baby branches continue to grow...



29 comments:

  1. We may have to look harder and dig deeper to find the beauty this time of year, but as your words and photos confirm, it is well worth the extra effort.

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    1. You literally have to dig deeper - or at least Karina is! But it is there. Stay warm...

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  2. YES!!! Yes to those little pink buds defying the odds and making you so happy! Yes to the little birds who appeared a week or so ago and are devouring the birdfeed in the feeder outside my window non-stop and make me so happy! And yes to honoring the seasons and how they make us feel (ugh, winter, UGH), and letting ourselves respond as we must (more naps, hot cocoa), but to also taking that little bit of effort to search out some beauty or happiness that is there, lurking! The little pink buds are beautiful, meaningful ("hold on Heather - spring is coming!!!"), and the photos are theatrical - am I the only one who think these buds/branches look like dancers??
    Especially in the first photo - if that shadow is not a dancer in a bird costume making her debut performance in the spotlight, then I don't know what! Dance on, pink blossoms (and put on a beautiful show for my sister!) - dance on!!!

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  3. Beautiful writing Heather. There is a lot to think about in what you wrote. I believe there is a beauty to each season, even the one I have the hardest time dealing with (summer). It has been a cold winter here with lots of rain and that's how I like it. But spring is making itself felt. I think I saw new leaves start to form on my hydrangea. They are still tiny but the promise is there.

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    1. Isn't that wonderful? I keep looking at the maple tree to see what has happened since I last looked. :) Like you summer is my least favorite season! Maybe we like the promise of what is next and not the full blown thing?

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  4. Verbal is good.
    This morning I read a blog with photos of almond tree in bloom (California USA) thinking what a wonderful life this blog world creates. And here now, I see your tender tree getting ready to stretch like waking up on a sunny morning rested. Thank you

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    1. Oh you are welcome. Remi told me that he saw the cherry trees in blossom on the way home today!

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  5. Summers coming for you Heather - hopefully the longer days will lift your dreams higher!!! Cheers - love the concept of the dogs and the Heron - I'm about to paint some of these they roost in our trees at night - which I find amazing as they are such mud dwellers during the day!!

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    1. Wow, I think that I would be quite impressed to see the herons in the trees at night!
      Are you getting ready for autumn? :)

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  6. O, the tender shoots of spring, beautiful & red.
    It’s early sign of spring here also in the valley.

    We have to lend a hand to sustain the earth.

    Is February the month for dreams?

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    1. Hmm...that is a good question, Edgar. I certainly wouldn't have thought so but maybe it good for dreaming...

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  7. "Japanese maple trees represent balance and practicality and are called "kito" in the Japanese language, which means "calm," "rest" or "at peace."
    http://www.ehow.com/facts_6894944_symbolism-japanese-maple-tree.html I don't know how reliable is that source of information but it seems perfect for your post. Your photos with their Zen quality are true to the heritage of the Japanese Maple, and the art and culture which surrounds them. Japanese artist Shutei Ota says of her paintings (one of which includes a maple), that she sees her paintings as written compositions. "Each stroke is a sentence. Each sentence builds up to the complete message or picture." Your photos do the same. They have a beautiful rhythm. Lean, lean into the season and drink deeply of it. :)

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    1. This just might be my favorite response ever. Thank you.

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  8. I SEE THE DANCERS SISTER of HEATHER.........I TOO SEE THEM!!
    I'm sorry that MAN was rude to YOU TOO...............HONEST TO GOD what is wrong with PEOPLE........
    I'm glad you got to sleep in a bit and that your PLANT gave YOU A SMILE.
    I'm going to give YOU a BIG SMILE if this roommates of KRISTOPHER"S ever gets my NEW SITE UP!!!!!!!
    HANG ON.........the garden.......SPRING........maybe ME........are ALL in your FUTURE!!!
    XOXO

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    1. The garden will be happening soon! And you would LOVE my Sister.
      xoxoxo

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  9. Depression, dreams, Barbara Kingsolver and the Japanese Maple's dancelike (thank you, Robin) promise of Spring...all part of my life now too! And the subtle but pervasive scent of a few sprigs of just-bloomed daphne odora that Scott placed around the house on Valentine's Day, wafting around me as I finish an arduous work project...just the opposite of what I should be doing right now. I will hold on to the promise incarnate in your beautiful photographs as I slug my way through! Thank you, Heather, as always, Leslie in Oregon

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    1. Sending you Strength to get through your project and as always thoughts of gratitude for your kindness and support...

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  10. I think we simply get more introspective as we get older (or at least I tell myself that) and sometimes that introspection can be hand-in-hand with depression. . .but isn't it wonderful how a blossom's bud can chase away those gloomy thoughts?

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    1. Like magic. :) But I have always been this introspective! The first "big" word that my Mom taught me was "analytical".

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  11. The real enemy of Japanese Maples here in the South of France is not the cold, as they are quite hardy; but the calcaire in the water, as they love an acid soil. They are poorly adapted to our terroir. Awful about the potato man; I have never had one come to my door, but I buy boatloads of produce on the street markets for ten euros! Don't let it get to you!
    bonnie in Roquebrun

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie. After all of these years I can still get so mad at such rudeness, especially as there is a part of me that wonders, "would he have dared to be rude to a Frenchwoman?" (actually with this guy, probably) Our small primeur shop has been closed for vacation but is opening back up next week so I guess the kind owner will get the ten Euros that I would have given the grumpy farmer!

      And I had no idea about the Japanese Maple. Oh dear. Our water is so hard here it is basically liquid stone. I will give it H2O from the Brita pitcher now! Hooray!

      We still haven't made it to Roquebrun although I hear it is lovely. The closest was when we rented the safari tent further to the north of you:
      http://lostinarles.blogspot.fr/2013/07/a-fabulous-safari-tent-to-rent-in-haut.html

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  12. After reading your last few posts, I wanted to thank you for the blog. My brother and his wife ( both originally from N.Y.) live just outside Fontvielle. Reading your blog allows me to feel a connection to their lives. So thanks, and keep up the fabulous work. You're a highlight in the email box.

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    1. Thank you so much, pooker1963, that means a lot to me. Living here is really different than visiting. It is wonderful but it can be complex! Do they like it? Granted, they are in one of the prettiest spots of the Alpilles!! I did a few posts about "contrasts in Provence" that might be of interest to you. If so, the search option is in the sidebar to the right. :)

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    2. Thanks Heather, I'll check out the previous posts. Yes they love it. After vacationing for twenty years in Fontvielle, they decided to move there permanently. Six years ago they made the move , and last year they purchased the cabinnette on the farm where they vacationed all those years. My brother spends his days working on the farm( Mannonni is the name of the owner, they raise bulls for the bull fights ) and making furniture, which he did in the U.S.. They recently qualified for a ten year visa, and there is talk of citizenship. I'm all for the idea, selfishly planning future visits. See ya.

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  13. Heather isn't it interesting how those tiny little buds bring so much joy, hope and knowledge that spring cannot be far off (even with snow on the ground and more on its way here)

    That potato man must not need ten Euros very much!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. I thought the same thing, Karena!! Ten Euros is nearly $15!!

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  14. Heather, I battled depression as a young adult.....and then it went dormant for many years. It as returned this winter (in my retirement years). My life couldn't be more perfect....but we all know that that doesn't make a difference. Like that promising bud...we must carry on.

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    1. Yes, we both know that doesn't make a difference and yes, we must carry on. I wish you could see how the maple has grown and unfurled so many leaves! That said, I am so very sorry to read that your depression has returned and I hope that you are doing all that you can (not always easy, I know!) to treat it and take care of yourself. I am always around if you need a lending ear at robinsonheather (at) yahoo.com.
      Sending you a warm hug. And gratitude for your honesty and courage.

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