Thursday, November 29, 2012

Red dust on my shoes

...but not in my heart. Imprints burning with each step.

That's it? Yes, that is it for today. No explanations or musings. I am taking a cue from my incredibly wise friend Suze and giving self-awareness a bit of a rest, most especially as I am still right in the midst of my visit to the States where there is much to absorb. Mainly a whole lot of love. 

So I hope that you enjoyed the last of these photographs from the Colorado Provençal with its varying shades of ochre, a million years crushed into dust to swipe across the palm of your hand. Time is feeling a bit like that for me these days, both with the length of a shadowy pull while the past ripples out behind me and as strikingly immediate as a pinprick without pain.

I will be back in Provence on Monday. Remi has a way of teasing me about being squirrel-like at times and true enough, I am busy gathering nuts of memories for the winter ahead. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Palate cleanser

Oh my goodness. Most of us have had quite a bit to digest this week, haven't we? Certainly in the States with our copious Thanksgiving feast (and yes, mine was absolutely the meal I have been dreaming of for five years, thank you, it really was) but also this rocket launch into the holiday season which effects so many of us, one that is nothing short of a doozy. Whew. So it might be fine timing to offer up a mini-post to help digest it all, a palate cleanser.

Nature does it best. I went to see "Life of Pi" (in 3-D no less) last night and I could tell from bits of stifled laughter that the very real animals featured in the opening credits were as unknown as the phenomenally created digitally-animated tiger featured in the rest of the movie. That made me pause a bit, most especially as there is so much exotic beauty all around us, even in small spaces.

I took these photos in the Colorado Provençal  and was somehow thinking of some of the design friends that read this blog while I did so (and the bark photos are precisely for the incredibly talented Francine Gardner of Intérieurs, I don't know why). Lines, contrast, shape, color, form, texture and maybe even a hint of emotion (I know I am pushing it with that last one but if you were there you would have felt it too)--all that plants a seed to become something else, whether literal or figuratively. 

We keep growing--ain't that grand? 

Wishing you some rest this weekend wherever you are. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Good will hunting

Isn't it something? 

That quiet stealth of liquid happiness rising through my veins... quickly upon finding that smile, that irreplaceable smile as I am the very first to walk out of the International Arrivals gate, one of delight and relief.

My Mom rises up out of her chair in the waiting area and comes towards me with open arms.

I hold her so tight and kiss her on the side of her head.

I can feel the gentle pressure of appreciation as others around our little bubble look on.

It's her. It's my Mom. It always takes a few seconds more to realize she is actually there.

And that I am here. 

I will go through the same feelings being welcomed by her wonderful companion, Leonard and then with a whoop, my Sister, Robin a few hours later.

"Welcome Home," the young man at passport control had said. But when he asked me the reason why I am in France, I blurted out, "Happiness!" because you see, I have two families and my honey is there.

But I know how much he wants me to enjoy this time, enough for both of us, so that is what I am doing.

I feel rich with gifts. And buoyed with a profound gratitude.

What a year it has been so far, what beauty I have seen. An appreciation of time waving over and within me. Just as it did as Remi and I strolled hand in hand through the village of Aurel.

So much to see and discover...

...and in such fine company too.

I feel it now as well, right this very instant as I sit outside--outside!--with my laptop delicately balanced on a wrought iron table on my Mom's porch. I am looking out upon a riotous red tree laughing its last and grains from an overstocked bird feeder that are embedded in the earth at my feet. I can hear the reassuring hum of an airplane overhead, knowing others are making their way to their families, as well as the blender's whir of Leonard preparing a battalion of pies in the kitchen. My fingertips are chilled, my coffee gone cold but I am deeply content in the midst of this everyday poetry.

 Perhaps it is the glow in my heart that is shedding extra light, making everything come into focus.

And yet I know that many of us have experienced incredible challenges so far in 2012 whether economical, physical or emotional and some have been dealt terrible losses. It is not an easy moment in history, is it? All I know is what I would wish so dearly, for those of us that have been holding an upside down horseshoe, would be to use both hands to force it the right back up, to keep the luck inside. 

This year, rather than to only celebrate Thanksgiving--and I will with a cornucopia of sheer delight--I am going to go good will hunting and invite all of you to join me, no matter where on this incredible planet you might be...just for a day, just for ten seconds or just for our lives, to remember that we are all loved and to try to keep our eyes open to not only all that is in front of us but the horizon beyond. 

Sending my Very Best from Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.

There are many that are still homeless after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the rebuilding process will be long. For those of you that would like to donate or donate again:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time to hit the road

Isn't it funny? I have a whole cache of posts prepared to pull you along while I laugh doubled over during my visit in the States but yet this evening, I am so filled with a bubbly excitement that I can't put anything together, save a pile with my passport and ticket. Of course, certain tasty treats de la France have already been carefully packed in my bag along with myriad cadeaux. I have been roving to hold Remi randomly like a planet in rotation, sad that he is not coming with me, nor Ben. For I know that I am heading to the Land of the Loved. If you feel so inclined, send good thoughts to him please so as to keep him company and perhaps to yours truly who will soon be lifted up in flight above our quotidien and sending hope for a bit of peace, a bit of joy to all below...

Fingers crossed for safety, more soon from America...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daydream for sale

I blushed. For within minutes of having met lovely Jennifer in person, she had tossed out, "You know what I love in your blog? That you and Remi are always pining after some house or another, imagining what it would be like to move to some place new." Ooh, busted. She nailed it! The heat rose to my cheeks. We can't help it. Remi and I are both nomads for different reasons--me from having moved around so much during my childhood, he for having travelled the world for most of his career. We are always open to the next possibility. Or at least willing to entertain it with a daydream or two. 

When we explore, we wander, often aimlessly travelling down this road or that, happy to be in each other's company with our Golden, Ben, looking out the back window. Many a time have we come screeching to a halt to better take in a happy surprise. So it was with the house for sale roadside on the outskirts of Banon

Remi saw his plan immediately. "The garage could be transformed into a gallery with an atelier above and the rest of the house looks big enough that it could be..." "A B&B?" I interrupted (as I am too often to do). "Exactly."

We were immediately taken by the traditional layout of the house, with its rooms sprouting off from a central stairway, as well as the deep porch off the side. Can't you just see how lovely it could be? Oh, I would gleefully tear down those yellow plastic panels and build a tonnelle to be draped in wisteria and roses. Up would come the cement and down would be laid age-worn dalles de pierres in its stead. I would keep the lovely screen door, imagining its satisfying bang each time someone would head back into the kitchen to fetch another bottle of wine. 

The view of the surrounding mountains opens out with welcome arms and an absolutely massive garden slopes down in descending terraces from the porch. My heart goes out to that forgotten land, dotted with a few scraggly accidental trees and waist high weeds. What could it be? What must it have been?

We decided that we needed a closer look and poked around until we found a dirt path that stopped just below the property's baseline. Apparently our zooming back and forth was worrisome to one of les voisines, whom Remi noticed peaking at us from behind a partially drawn curtain. Didn't she know we were on a dream hunt? We were well-rewarded with our new perspective as the ruin of an ancient tower or pigeonnier took shape. What could we make of that? A nap house? With a star-gazing platform? And just look how close the house is to the village. We could have unlimited access to gooey goat cheese and spiky saucisson!

From down below, we could also appreciate fully how much larger the house was than what we initially thought, including two entire floors that hadn't been visible from the road. Definitely enough room for a B&B. I also took a long gander at the filled in arch on the lower left hand corner of the facade. Open that puppy up, put in a pool that runs half-inside the structure, half out with an infinity drop--et voila, B&B de luxe! In winter, the towering pine would whistle woefully while the chimneys billowed fragrant smoke...Maybe there is space enough for a yoga studio? 

Yes, we spent a good thirty minutes, at least, entertaining this little fantasy. Not long enough for us to even call the number posted on the door but certainly plenty to restock the wishing well. Sometimes just the wondering is enough.

Sincerely hoping that you all have a wonderful weekend ahead, a calm one with plenty of time to let your imagination go...

...and to get you started hop on board, A "Train of Thought" by Chilly Gonzalez. 

And I nearly forgot! What kind of aspiring Frenchy would I be if I didn't mention that this is the weekend when le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! Ah ha! Not being particularly attached to the stuff (nor the headaches it has inspired in the past), I politely declined when my caviste offered a tasting of this year's batch. Without missing a beat, he instead poured a Côte du Rhone Primeur, which is the same concept but made with the more full-bodied varietals that we have in our neck of the woods. It turns out that it has not been a great year for the Beaujolais as many of the vignobles were damaged during heavy hail storms. One winery lost 80% of its production. Happily, there is the rather tasty Primeur as well, which just might leave you dancing like the lovely apsaras...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The sun in my arms and the stars at my feet

A true Sunday. Sleeping in late then dipping carefully shredded Italian brioche into my coffee, listening to our friends that had stayed over after a joyful evening as they mused on this and that, their knowing to let me be until I am fully awake. Each paging through picture books with waving lapses of silence filled only with the ping-pong of Baroque. Meanwhile, beyond the window-pane the sun was arm-wrestling with the clouds. It won and was victorious. Out we wandered, working up an appetite for the omelette aux chanterelles that Chef Remi had promised. I took my camera along as the light was singing just to me, I felt that I had the sun in my arms and love in my heart. 

Hungry from looking, we stayed at table until 4 pm, lingering over the St. Marcellin and sweet clementines. After our friends said their goodbyes, it was time for une petite sieste, the kind filled with sleeping without sleeping, the best I know. But I could hear noises outside my window as I dozed and was finally drawn to see what could it be. While I was dreaming, workers from the city had been as busy as bees, stringing up, then testing the lights for the Christmas season. I smiled at the Milky Way just below my feet, as they winked little hellos while lighting up the dark.