On April 8th, I posted this blog about the colour green in a way of feeling closer to a Spring that was lazying somewhere but definitely not here ! Guess what ? One week later a friend of mine, Karen at

http://karmardav.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/colors-of-your-world/

proposed one of her photo hunts : “Colors of your world”. The deadline is on Sunday, April 28th, please have a look at her blog if you feel like participating. I chose to send this post as my contribution to Karma’s challenge.

St Patrick’s Day has come and gone as well as the green wave that is associated with its celebration all over the world. Originally though it seemed to have been the blue colour. Green is the shade many of us long for at this Season in the Northern hemisphere. Winter is not in a hurry to give way to Spring this year. Personally I cannot dissociate green from Ireland. For having lived there years ago, I remember marveling at  the infinite array  of greens in the Emerald Isle.quilt JOK, trefle

It is  a colour I use a lot when sewing. I find it relaxing.  Like in this small scrappy quilt where I put together some Irish memories. Edna O’Brien’s “Mother Ireland” is the first non fiction and most  personal book of the famous novelist. Her memoir (1976)  includes seven essays  written in her lyrical and sensuous voice. E. O’Brien wrote many other works (she is a playwright, poet and author of short stories) and had to see some of her work banned.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edna_O%27Brien

“Irish ? In truth I would not want to be anything else. It is a state of mind as well as an actual  country. Perhaps it is that, the unmitigated challenge of landscape, of rock, of meadow, of woodland, of rain and of sheer desolating emptiness that makes people hurry there and hurry from it”.

E. O'Brien, Mother Ireland

There are magnificent black/white pictures in this book. They were taken specially to illustrate “Mother Ireland” by the acclaimed Irish photographer Fergus Bourke.

Another Irish writer and philosopher John O’Donohue, born in the West of Ireland,  expressed so beautifully  what the colour green meant for him in a book: “The Invisible Embrace of Beauty”. Here are some excerpts of a particular chapter  entitled : “Green : The Colour of Growth”.

“One of my favourite images from childhood is of meadows. Often the sheep would be let in to graze there. When you opened the gate, you could almost feel the meadow breathing. It was absolutely carpeted with grass. The colour of this grass was so rich as to seem blue-green. The sheep needed neither introduction nor persuasion; they simply gave in and became instant addicts !”

moutons 1

“Green is the colour of youthfulness; it is full of Spring energy and direction of growth, urgent on its journey towards the light”.Verrey. grange, bisse

“Gravity cannot keep it down; the call of light is always stronger”

green lantern

“Green is the colour of relentless desire. Even under earth smothered over with concrete, tarmacadam (or if I may add, pebbles), the green blade will rise”.paved street 2

“Nothing can keep grass down, its desire endures. You can find it anywhere, on top of ancient ruins way above the ground or growing in little indentations on top of massive rocks”.green on stone

“It rests the eye, and still remains the colour of the day’s desire”.paysage, C. Breton

Autumn and harvest

October 22, 2012

Grape harvest is over in most areas of my canton (Valais). Some grapes will have to wait for a mid November harvest though. The wine produced then will have more flavour, sweetness and this particular flavour “terroir”, from the local soil.John O’Donohue, Irish writer and philosopher, writes about “Autumn and the Inner Harvest” (Anam Cara). He tells of the four Seasons of the heart, Autumn being associated with old age.

“In the autumntime of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one”.

As in the Celtic Wisdom, O’Donohue sees Autumn as the harvest of one’s soul that gives a deeper sense of strenght, belonging and poise. A quiet delight when this time arrives in your life.

I  like O’Donohue’s deep thoughts and, as I walked through those wineyards last Sunday afternoon, I remembered my mother’s words and memories of her younger years when she was helping her father taking care of their few vineyards over the same hills. It was a hard work for anyone involved. No machines were used. The work started in February/March and ended in October/November. A lot was to be learned over months and years. A harvest of knowledge and traditions were transmitted to sons and daughters, families’ links were valued and strenghtened. Most mountain villagers grew vineyards  on the foothills. Their earnings were  meagre and  when the grapes were brought to the communal wine cellars, the gain was much appreciated.  It used to be a joyful and singing crowd which walked down to the valley early in the morning (5-6am) during the season of grape harvest. Sometimes, on lucky days, a postal bus would drive the villagers and winegrowers down to the vineyards.  After a long day’s work under a hot sun the return home up to the little villages was much  quieter. Bodies hurt and voices kept silent.  Of course there was a big celebration at the end of the harvest. It coincided with this other tradition that is still present nowadays : roasted chestnuts (brisolée).  A feast when served with various kinds of cheese, cold meats, rye bread/butter, grapes and apple pie; we also drink must (grape juice not fermented yet). A simple and delicious meal-of-the-season.

All those thoughts and more went through my mind during my afternoon walk. I wished my mother would have been there with me, holding my arm, smiling, commenting, remembering and gleaning the few grapes that were forgotten or left for visitors or birds or beagles 😉 Yes, Nino was with me and I had some trouble keeping him close to me, especially when we walked near this beautiful  vineyard (below) that had not been harvested yet.

In a  photo album, I found this old picture of grape harvest in our area, Valais. My mother could have been there making a pause and chatting with friends. Those days are long gone….