Quiet Sunday

November 28, 2010

A silent whiteness everywhere

Sky and soil of the same shade

Pale and grey in the early morning light

A palpable coldness through the window

A curtain that softens the wintery touch

Snow on a  quiet Sunday morning.

A hint of Winter

November 1, 2010

It was around 5.30pm and  I was driving to town. The sun was highlighting the pasture and the cows, the last rays of a beautiful but chilly autumnal day. I just had to stop and take a picture of two Seasons that were overlapping. Snow had fallen on the Prealpes mountains and the sight was enchanting. Could it be that Winter is at the door ? A bit too soon for me…

“Winter is an etching,  Spring a watercolor,  Summer an oil painting and Autumn a mosaic of them all”.

Stanley Horowitz

Random views of a morning walk

September 13, 2010

As every day, Nino-the-Beagle and I went for our morning walk. It was still raining a little after the violent storm of the night before.Small drops of water were shining on grass and flowers,   the coolness of the air definitely announced a change of  Season.

There are always the usual stopovers on the way. Nino so enjoys following tracks and investigating them further (down). He loves  digging furiously, puffing and digging again with great insistence. Sometimes he lifts his stubborn and cute head and looks at me as if saying “I know “it’s” here, not far, I’ll get it,  just wait !” And on he goes, digging happily and throwing earth into my shoes.

As he was searching underground, I was looking up to the sky, a lovely blue sky washed by the rain. There was this cloud as big as a vessel sailing towards Northern skies. I wondered where it was heading to and what shape it would take on arrival.

I am always fascinated by the shapes and moves of clouds. Endless transformations.  When the sun shines through them…

… clouds seem to take another dimension, they become more alive with shades, transparency and depth.

Later I stopped at the bottom of this tree and sat on a bench. Above in its branches there used to be a sort of small wooden platform. I never knew  if it was meant for hunters or for bird watchers. As I looked up though I saw only pieces of broken wood, the hut had been  destroyed by the storms or by somebody, I don’t know. It looked a bit desolate.

Nino was beside me looking down – again – at something that seemed to interest him a lot. It was a  stone that looked like a nicely wrapped parcel, a small gift of nature. Maybe this is what he thought too ?  and did not know where to start  opening it and chewing at it 😉

It was getting close to lunchtime. I had a risotto in mind. Those mushrooms were tempting but just not safe enough for me to pick and add them to our meal …

Storm was looming again over the forest and the fields. Dark clouds,  a few drops of rain. It was time to get back home at a fast pace. Which we did but not quite fast enough. Half an hour later we arrived home. Soaked.

Just a few thoughts of a morning like many others, yet different, unique in so many ways even if I know this area.  Unique in the way I felt on that particular day and how I looked around trying to be really present during those privileged moments.

“I am at home, I have arrived

There is only here and now.

I feel strong, really free,

I find refuge in myself.

I am at home, I have arrived”

This is what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “the meditative walking”.


A breath of fresh air

July 6, 2010

Shopping in town on  hot days like we are having for the past week is something I rarely do. When I really have to, I always try to take time and visit the botanical garden. One of my favourite places in town.  At this Season the garden is a little paradise of shade and flowers. A real breath of fresh air, a haven of peace if you go there before midday. The arbour that looked so bare early this year is now covered with  pink wild roses. Nothing like natural shade can give you this wonderful feeling of coolness on a hot Summer day.

Even under the brilliant sun, the pond adds some freshness. How peaceful to look at  the water lilies  slightly undulating  in the water, it  quietens body and mind.

There is a particular place where I like to sit near a rosebush. Those tiny rosebuds  are an invitation and inspiration to any painter. And photographer… What I cannot share with you, unfortunately, is their  subtle, delicate scent.

As I sat on the bench enjoying this moment,  lost in my thoughts, I heard a prolonged “miaou”… Looking around I saw a black cat probably feeling a bit lonely and who was lying on the ground not far from me. He stayed there  quietly then followed me when I got up and walked further in the garden.

Young people had arrived near the pond. Some students were working together on a project.  The college of biology is close by and sometimes I see them sitting in the garden having lunch or reading. An extra-mural break…More people arrived and sat around the pond. These  girls were obviously very busy checking their  messages and totally oblivious of their surroundings. They were reading and commenting their sms for everyone to hear : “He writes beautifully, you know and he loves me so ! ”  🙂

Followed by my new friend, the cat,  I strolled all around the garden before driving back home. I  took a few pictures here and there, stopping to read the names of various trees, bushes and flowers, amazed at their origin. A world travel in miniature ! The tropical greenhouse looked inviting… but definitely too warm and humid in Summer. I will visit it on colder, duller days.  As I walked, I took a few photographs; you may recognize some arnica flowers, water lilies, fuchsias, wild roses, flax plants, edelweiss, irises. There were many more… We will leave those for a next visit ! Hope you enjoy this one 🙂

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
–  Lady Bird Johnson, Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom

Each flower is a soul opening out to nature.
–   Gerald De Nerval

In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.
–  Kozuko Okakura

To leave, not far

June 27, 2010

“To leave,  not far, just somewhere else”

This is the  meaning of these words in French. The card is drawn by an artist named “marie-antoinette” and I chose it to say good-bye to two of my friends who died a few weeks ago.  Hence my silence on this blog. I just did not feel like writing, please excuse my absence.

They were friends of mine but they did not know each other. We had been writing to one another for about thirteen years. Hundreds of letters from outside to inside and vice versa.  We shared our daily lives, present and past,  our joys as well as our sorrows, our regrets and our hopes, our memories, our reflections and just  anything we felt like writing about.  “Writing – someone said – is like sharing a piece of soul“; nothing was more true than these words in our correspondance.

As fate would have it,  both of my penfriends – and friends –  left on the same day. No accident nor illness, their death was scheduled. It is very difficult for me to explain how I have been feeling since then. Incredulity and shock would be some of my feelings, for sure.  Sadness, helplessness too. And little by little, a feeling of peace for I know they reached the Light that had been so far away in almost half of their life.

Before he left, R. had written this prayer that I wish to share with you  on this Sunday morning:

Holy Spirit, mysterious, ever-present yet invisible,

You are the light of our souls even when we are in darkness.

At the beginning, you brought the Son of God into this dark world, the light of life itself.

You led Jesus to his passion and your eternal spirit was there when he was on the cross.

I greatly need your help and light right now.

Help me that I do not close the eyes of my soul to you out of confusion or fear.

Help all those around me who struggle in the same darkness.

Help each of us in our present sorrow, distress and horror,

To know that you are with us, guiding, strengthening with our gifts of courage, wisdom and understanding.

Lift up our spirits even when there appears to be no human hope.

Amen



Mothers

May 9, 2010

The mother was standing at the side of a country road on the highlands of Madagascar, her baby snuggled on her back. She was selling wild flowers and a few oranges, tomatoes, rice and this special kind of spinach they grow there, “brèdes” (a French name I found no translation for).I stopped and asked to buy the flowers and some tomatoes. I never tasted again such sweet tomatoes. The lady was shy, her baby curious and serious. They both looked so  beautiful and in harmony, I asked her could I take a picture, please. The taxidriver translated this for me, she agreed with a half smile. Then a rapid conversation went on between the mother and the driver. I was to give the picture to her later. She never had had a picture of her and her baby. I did drive to this area again some weeks later,  stopped in the curve and climbed a steep earth track to a hamlet of red houses. They were  of the same colour of the soil, as if they had grown out of it. By the time I arrived,  I was surrounded with children who screamed of excitement and brought mothers out of their homes. The shy lady was there, she embraced me gently and looked,  and looked again at the picture, hardly believing it was her and her baby ! Emotion and laughter and… more demands for pictures 😉

I took more pictures (with my precious Nikkormat!) and for some unfortunate reason, they were lost at the photographer’s in town. The mother and her child is the only one I still have of this episode. The village I went to looked very much like this one. This tapestry (cross-stitching with local wool on the lining of a well-worn carpet I was going to throw away !)  is a unique gift I received from a dear friend as I left Madagascar.

So, these are my thoughts and good wishes for all mothers today, we celebrate their special day. Happy Mother’s Day to each and everyone of you ! A loving thought also for all mothers who will not celebrate with us but who stay in our heart forever.

Des mots d’enfants, kids sayingsand others’ who were kids too 🙂

“When mom is tired, why do I have to go to bed “?

“For the others, my mom may not be the most beautiful, but when one looks at her with My eyes, she is the prettiest”.

“A mother who tucks you in bed leaves behind a scent of sleep”
(Jean Gastaldi)

“Mothers always forgive; this is why they were born”.
(Alexandre Dumas)

“A mother’s love is like air : so obvious that one does not even notice it. Until one misses it”.
(Pam Brown)

A gentle curve

February 18, 2010

“If your mind becomes firm like a rock

And no longer shakes

In a world where everything is shaking,

Your mind will be your greatest friend

And suffering will not come your way.”

Theragatha

Frost

January 22, 2010

Frost, snow, grey sky and coldness are still very present here. We all seem to get used to those low temperatures (-5°C or less in the morning, a few degrees higher during the day). One thing though keeps me wondering every day and I look forward to my walk in the woods : it is the extraordinary and fabulous transformation of vegetation through the frost. How can one ever get used to the beauty of these branches  ?

or those dry  flowers which seem to have gotten a new life  with the frost ?

I find that Nature is a never ending source of wonder and beauty. Everywhere, at all Seasons.

As the French saying goes “Année de givre, année de fruits”… “A frosty Winter gives a generous harvest of fruits in Summer” 😉 So, let’s look forward to warmer days !

Hands

January 14, 2010

Thinking of Haiti…

Reaching out to those in dire need

Working hand in hand to help saving lives

Giving a helping hand to heal bodies and minds

Being together hand in hand to reconstruct

Being on hand to listen, comfort, support.

Wishes for you

December 24, 2009

May you all receive the Christmas light in your heart.

A time for a pause and for sharing,

A time for celebrating and thinking of others, not able to do so.

A time for giving one’s time to prepare traditional meals that will bring everyone around the Christmas table.

Joyful decorations, Nativity scene, scented candles, cinnamon cookies, spiced tea, Christmas songs in church, a snowman in a garden and so much more. There is this special mood at home that makes you feel like prolonging this happy time of togetherness. And why not ?

Christmas is also the time to look at others and events with the heart. As Antoine de St-Exupéry wrote in his book “The Little Prince” :

“The essential is invisible to the eyes, one only sees well with the heart”.

Those were the words the fox said to the little prince as they were going to part. It was the fox secret that he confided to him. And to many readers across the globe since the book was published. “The Little Prince” is a wonderful tale for all ages, a story to read to children, a story for  all times. And the fox secret is good to remember well beyond Christmas.

Here is a gift for you, my friendship stars’ quilt. I hope they will shine in your Christmas night and long afterwards. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!