Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Light of Marseille

I made a promise to keep moving forward, to keep a focus on beauty and good. So while my heart is most certainly reeling from the horrible explosions in Boston and now Texas, I will clutch on to that promise like a rope of peace. I know that so many of you are struggling to do the same, each in your own way.

My first instinct was to share a little light and there is nothing petite about la lumière de Marseille. "Why is it so bright?" I asked Remi as we walked along the Quai de la Joliette. "The sea acts like a giant reflector," he responded. "It bounces the sun up and out." And while it was nearly blinding, it was ultimately illuminating, pulling apart the contrasts with gentle fingers. I wanted to capture it all, like a child jumping at melting snowflakes. But we were late, so late to see the amazing Koudelka exhibition at La Vieille Charité that there was not a moment to lose. So I literally took most of these photos while walking, nary a pause. 

Afterwards, we made a long loop back to where we were parked and still I was snapping practically non-stop. "Do you really find that interesting?" Remi asked, not unkindly, at one point while I was photographing a stop light backed against blue office windows. Yes, I did. I do. 

Bright light shine and show the way, propel us forward, just like the light of Marseille, out of our collective darkness. 

I just want to add one thing that surprised me in the responses to my previous post. It is funny, this internet world. Our personalities shine through our words and reactions distinctly even with the distance. I think that you all know how grateful I am that so many of you are loyal visitors and commenters. I light up each time I see what I could call "your familiar faces." 

And so I was amazed, truly, to discover that so very many of you are from Boston. So many, it is incredible. And I just want to say that each and every one of you, while different in many ways, have one quality that unites you: a big heart, a generous spirit. Each and every one. That says so much doesn't it? It gives me hope for Boston and beyond.


  1. Truly inspiring photography. After looking at your pictures I wish I was there right now.

    1. Thank you Laoch. My Mom mentioned that it snowed last week in Michigan so I can understand why...

    2. It's been a truly awful Spring here, weather wise. It snowed here overnight after flooding all week. On the other hand I am making crepes this morning so there is hope.

    3. Crepes!?! Are you absolutely SURE that you aren't a Frenchman in disguise? Heck, even Remi doesn't make crepes...

  2. Hi Heather,
    Shadows and light have fascinated artists and thinkers since beginning of time.
    Virginia Woolf writes that from the ordinary we experience “little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark”. The moments of insights.

    I like your photos.

    1. Merci Edgar for the compliment and also for stopping by. With that first visit, you shared a quote that sums up neatly exactly what I am hoping to find with this little blogging effort. Not always arriving, but trying...
      Have a wonderful evening.

  3. Heather, although your post is more in line with lights as in shadows and light in art and architecture, I see it also as very appropriate for what you've touched upon with your last post. We need LIGHT in our personal life and in relation to others and this world. Thank you Remi...:) Now I understand why there's so much lights in the cities around the shores of the Mediterrenean Sea. Thank you for this highlight on Marseilles. Lovely City and interesting and wonderful architecture.

  4. Thank you, Heather for posting more beautiful photos

  5. What a lovely post. Thank you....or better yet, merci!

  6. Beautiful post, photos and sentiments. Merci beaucoup. We are now in Pezenas.

  7. Beautiful. The light is entirely different in the South of France--like nowhere else on earth!Look at that sky!!! Thank you , this is just what I needed to cheer me on this grey day in New England.

  8. How funny, I was capturing the light this weekend too. There is something magical about it. I hope to post some photos soon.

  9. Here you are,Heather....(and I may have sent this to you previously, but it remais appropriate):

    "As sharp as in my childhood, still"

    by Edna St. Vincent Millay
    (From an unfinished poem, 1940)

    "As sharp as in my childhood, still
    Ecstasy shocks me fixed. The will
    Cannot entice it, never could,
    So never tries. But from the wood
    The wind will hurl the clashing sleet;
    Or a small fawn with lovely feet,
    Uncertain in its gait, will walk
    Among the ferns, not breaking back
    One frond, not bruising one fern black,
    Into the clearing, and appraise
    With mild, attracted, wondering gaze,
    And lifted head unhurt and new,
    This world that he was born into.

    Such marvels as, one time, I feared
    Might go, and leave me unprepared
    For hardship. But they never did.
    They blaze before me still, as wild
    And clear, as when I was a child.
    They never went away at all.
    I need not, though I do, recall
    Such moments in my childhood, when
    Wonder sprang out at me again,
    And took me by the heels, and whirled
    Me round and round above the world.

    For wonder leaps upon me still,
    And makes me dizzy, makes me ill,
    But never frightened - for I know -
    Not where - but in whose hands I go:
    The lovely fingers of Delight
    Have hold of me and hold me tight."

    ----david terry

    1. I have been thinking of you David and wondering how you are. So typical of you to visit bearing such a wonderful gift. You have already given me so many! And you knew how perfect this poem is. How much I would love it. And I do. No surprise that you do too. Thank you.
      Hoping that both you and Herve are well,

    2. Hey Heather,

      I'm so glad you liked the Millay poem (it's one of my favorites by her, and I thought it would appeal to you just now). Odd to consider that Millay never thought it worth publishing; it first appeared in the "collected poems" edited/selected by her sister, Norma, after Millay's death.

      As for me?....nothing but trouble, trouble, and a large dose of difficult-duty lately. I spent a month up in Virginia, doing what I could to help a longtime, very dear friend do what she's die at home with her dogs. Ironically enough, she's not actualy dead yet (having cheated death about six times in the past year alone), but the time came for me to return to North Carolina.
      Now?...I'm staying in Durham for a unspecified period at another sick friend's house (knee replacement). As I did in Virginia, I walk dogs, shop, do all the cooking, usher in various visiting-nurses, manage the folks who drop by, and generally function as the live-in help.

      It's not been at all bad to stay so busy when the news from the "outside" world has been so relentlessly disheartening.

      Weirdly enough? I have been back in Hillsborough twice (and, thus, seen Herve only twice/briefly since 18 March). On 30 March, I went back home to go to a big, lovely, predictably writer-populated party at Ed and Frances "Under the Tuscan Sun" Mayes's beautiful old house, "Chatwood"....about 3 miles from our house. Two weeks ago, I went back to prepare & hold a reception at The Webb House (I've joined the dubious ranks of folks who seem to invariably live in old houses with NAMES) for 100 or so folks following a concert by Peter Ostroushko ("Prairie Home Companion"s musical director, among his many other accomplishments).
      That night was wonderful....folks going in and out (the back wings of the house enclose a large courtyard, with french doors on all about "flow")....but I had to leave 24 hours later, once I'd cleaned up.

      Two days after I left, a mini tornado came through town and tore down the 250 year old, GARGANTUAN pecan tree in the front yard (it was one of the two largest in the state). An obviously shocked Herve came here this past Sunday, bearing photographs of the destruction this caused. Fortunately, the monster-tree fell AWAY from the house....our 1790-1800 house, at least. I that respect, we're the fortunate ones on our street.

      So, yes.....I've been busy, to say the least.

      You'll like this lovely piece by Peter. Go to:

      Level Best as Ever, and say hey to Remi for me,

      David Terry

    3. Oh dear, David. I am so sorry to hear this. Am sending you an email--after I listen to Peter's work.

    4. Oh, thank you, Heather (I just read your kind email).

      Here's another song for these hard days. I played it at least twice per day (per request) for my elderly friend this past month. I could never quite figure out if this was because she loved it (I knew she LIKED it) or just because we'd figured out that the daily, yankee, visiting, "How are WE today?" nurse thought it was irredeemably lugubrious....bad for me to teaching it to my friend, and "bad" for her to be humming along.

      Get your dogs in your lap (if they'll fit, which I doubt) and play this for them. All of mine know it, now.

      I should perhaps emphasize that it's the OTHER David in the video. He's a head taller and much more admirably inclined to assume a back-up role than I am.

      go to:

      david terry

  10. It is in the details Heather..where we find beauty. It is in your heart and soul and transcends to your photographs...

    Yes...I have to agree on Bostonians..pretty special. :)

    1. Thank you so much beautiful Jeanne. I feel the same about all that you do, your writing, your photography--it is why so many of your friends and readers feel like they know you.

      Travel safely and know that I will be sending good energy your way,

  11. PS...loving the poetry of David Whyte these days. Do you know of him?

    1. No, I don't! Hooray! More poetry to discover! :)

  12. Hello over there.. Your post got me to thinking about the last time I was in Boston: September, 2001. Hubby and I were in Ottawa for a visit, about to fly to New York on September 12 to goof around for a few days before we boarded the Queen Elizabeth II for a transatlantic crossing to take us back to Europe. Because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the ship was diverted to Boston. Since we couldn't fly there, we hired a car and drove from Ottawa to Boston to board the ship from there. The heart-wrenching experience of talking to Americans en route through the Eastern States and spending a few days in Boston is something I'll never forget.

  13. Hello Heather

    I just returned from a long walk with Spice Girl. This time to a new neighourhood in Belleair Bluffs, where the magnolia were blooming, the purple jacaranda, the glow of gardenias in an enclosed garden and the heady perfume of jasmin. Like you, I need the light to shine through following the horrendous event which is taking place in Boston.
    May the light of our Lord shine of us and that evil and the works of the devil be banished.
    Fondest wishes and hugs
    Helen xxx

  14. Thank you for a lovely blog. The pictures are beautiful.

  15. So strange, all the black clothes hanging out to if in mourning.

  16. I love these pictures and I love Remi's question. Do you find that interesting? I get that a lot too. Not unkind, no, more a sort of baffled curiosity. And then I bet he sees your pictures, and he nods and says "Ah, yes." Ah yes. Yes.

  17. The light... isn't that why we love Provence so, Heather?

    A tonic, a remedy, a balm, an inspiration... and so much more... light is everything... not only to the photographer... :)

    Have a wonderful weekend.. xv

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  21. Marseille looks truly beautiful through your lens :)


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