Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Walking with Lulu in the Alpilles - Part deux

 I know that it doesn't make sense. 

And that it is childish to hold up reminders of beauty with a raised hand, still sticky with glue and a smattering of sparkling dust.

But it is all that I know how to do. 

To chase back the dark with my love.

 I recently had another week of staying out at the bergerie with Lulu. She followed me diligently on our walks, muzzle to the ground, and began to understand that she had to let me be when I knelt into the grass to get closer to a bloom and that when I stopped moving to meditate, I was actually more than alive. 

Still, I had a harder time being content with the space of time fluffed up around me like wings than in my previous visit, for I could (and can) hear the clock ticking, even amidst the mighty gusts of the Mistral that blew for three days straight. So I did what I always do, I looked harder. Perhaps that might seem like a willful distraction or a game of pretending but, as always, in distracting my gaze outwards, I came back, somewhat surreptitiously, to whom I currently find "me" to be.

Thoughts are as tricky as the wind though, aren't they? "These foolish things remind me of you." Best not to always give them so much attention as they kick up the fluff and swirl. How much more reliable then, the proof, this little offering, for today and onwards of what does make sense to me, when that is something that is so dearly needed. For beauty builds the shelter of home.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
       Of deities or mortals, or of both,
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
         For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
                For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
         When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

- John Keats

I am sending out so much Strength and Love to everyone along with my deepest condolences to those who were touched by the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester. 
Let's stick together. I am so deeply appreciative of this wonderful community.


  1. Dear Heather,

    It's the fourth day of very-solid rain here in North Carolina, and I've been watching out the kitchen windows as all the cuttings and transplants are washed away. When the sun eventually comes out again, I assume I'll be out once again, re-planting everything.

    In the meantime?....I'm not amphibious and, consequently, am spending the day inside.....actually answering back-up emails and looking at forwarded links.

    I just read your latest posting. It's good to hear that you and Lulu are in cahoots again.... and the Alpilles (mistral or not) are always beautiful. I saw your reference to "These Foolish Things, and I once again thought "OH...Heather should visit; we could sit around the fire and trade Remi/Herve stories for hours". Oddly enough, I don't think doing so would be an unpleasant or unproductive experience.

    Do you know Andrea Marcovicci's recording (twenty or so years old) of "These Foolish Things"? You should. It's perfect, I think. go to:


    Actually?....for all that's gone-on, been done, or been said, etcetera over the past two years?......I was profoundly taken by surprise when, a couple of months ago, I went out the back door of a nearby restaurant to smoke and was joined by a 70 year old woman whom I sorta-know. She joined me as I sat on the parking-lot curb, and she said "I know you don't remember me, but I used to come to your and Herve's parties back when you were in the old house.....twelve years ago?...". I admitted that I didn't remember. She said "You know he really LOVED you, don't you? Take some advice from an old lady...just because things change doesn't mean they never were...Keep that in mind...."

    It's the best advice I've ever gotten. I walked home and had perhaps the best night's sleep I've had in at least two years.

    fondly, and thanks for the obviously evocative posting,

    David Terry

    1. What an absolutely beautiful and comforting thought, David Terry! It brought tears to my eyes (in memory of lost but not lost love)! Thanks so much for posting it.

    2. This made me cry, David. But you knew that it would. Some tears of happiness, others of grief, yes, still.

      He did. I know.

  2. Oh Heather, you are so very welcome to give us that reminder of beauty. Even with a raised hand! Please, do so! Just before I updated your page, I was thinking that I missed your posts on simple beauty and to share a quiet moment with you.

    But of course we have no claim on that and have to accept that things change. So it is even more pleasant to get fed by you with that provencial beauty and a wonderful poem!

    Keep meditating when things get rough.
    Love, Silke

    1. I know that I sound like a broken record, Silke. Or like a homing pigeon. ;) Much Love to you.

  3. Wow - LOVE these!! Your nature photographs are really amazing; thank you for reminding me what beauty lies just outside and for showing us the sweet details (snails! little "hairs" on the flowers! star-shaped leaves!). Yes, I definitely find thoughts to be as tricky as the wind! A little too tricky sometimes, so thanks for reminding me of all that is waiting for me - a get-out-of-jail-free card, if I can just open my eyes! And then, the cherry on top, David Terry's line (from the old woman): "just because things change doesn't mean they never were". Ahhh - thank you - both of you!

    1. I know. That line knocked the wind (ahaaaa) out of me for days. It really did. Love you Sister. Thank you for seeing what you do.

  4. As are we so deeply appreciative of you, Heather. Exquisite photos. Thank you.

  5. David Terry's story is just spot-on.
    Just days ago, I photographed the same wildflowers--the conical white ones with big manes that look like sparklers, and the purple ones at the end that look like Sputniks. But my photos are dreadful compared with these, so vivid, with such rich contrasts, almost like Old Masters. Take comfort in the beauty.

    1. Gosh, that is a lovely compliment. I do. I was not having a good morning at all today and so just made myself delineate the levels of green while out on a walk. It helped.

  6. Your thoughts and feelings expressed so beautifully in your photos and words ... on yet another night of tragedy in our world ... I'm amazed once again at the depth of your reach ... merci

    1. Merci à toi, Patricia! I am so much looking forward to our meeting...

  7. oh such words! Yours, John Keats, and then David's amazing story that just made me stop breathing for a minute. And of course, the photos are sublime. Thanks for all of this.

    1. It made me stop breathing for days! And R? I never responded to your note on insta about your plans. How much do I hope that I am still in France when you move here? There is so much ahead for you that is wonderful...

  8. Well, I’m glad, I suppose, that my anecdote touched several of Heather’s readers. I should emphasize, in the interest of clarity, that the older woman “knew” me because, despite the fact that I scarcely recognized her in the restaurant when she stopped by the table to say hello, she’s the mother of a good friend of mine; she certainly knew all the relevant facts about my recent history.

    She’s also, as I’ve come to learn, extraordinarily intelligent and subtle…..and not someone you can palm off with a fake-breezy “Oh, I’m just FINE. Isn’t the weather nice tonight?”…not once she’s decided that she has something to say that you need to hear. She’s become a very valued friend since that night.

    For what I hope are obvious reasons, I read the responses and thought of this scene from “Downton Abbey”. As with many of the scenes in that series, I first watched it and thought “Oh, this is going to get unbearably maudlin and manipulative”. And, then, it didn’t. Then conclusion of the scene is lovely, and I regularly think of it. For those who haven’t seen the series?.....the three characters are two widows and one recent widower.

    Go to:

    “Nature’s first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf’s a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay. “

    ----Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

    1. I have been rewatching "Downton Abbey" as of late. It gives me just enormous comfort and context. But...this scene made me cry too, of course. A lot of tears this week. "Nothing gold can stay."

      My dear David, merci.

  9. As a severe storm tomorrow is going to knock off all of the cherry blossoms that just opened today, that I was cherishing, I especially love this poem by Robert Frost. Thanks for that post, too!

  10. A little poem for you by Giorgos Seferis
    "Whether it's dusk
    or dawn's first light
    the jasmin stays
    always white".

  11. We survived a gale force wind yesterday...it blew many petals from the plants and threatened to flatten the garden...I find intense wind brings with it strong emotions.
    The poem by Keats is one that I remember from my school days...thank you for posting it and for your comment on my blog. Your artist friend is very gifted and I love the linen bag that she designed.
    Your pictures are wonderful.

    1. It does. The Mistral here is known to drive people mad.

  12. .. now their beautiful Spirits soar amongst the many others .. and they leave behind an empty space .. which we must fill with light.

    Rocket, you've done your part with this post to fill the space with light.

    Mahalo et Merci,

  13. Love, friendship,and beauty, you touched with your photos an text and Keats immortalized.
    Thank you Heather.

    1. You are so welcome, Edgar. I think that my friendship with natural beauty is one of the most important of my life.


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