Erri De Luca (1950) is an Italian novelist, translator and  poet. He is selftaught in several languages including Ancient Hebrew and Yiddish. De Luca is also a passionate mountain climber. “The Weight of the Butterfly” is one of his books I thoroughly enjoyed reading and that illustrates beautifully this facet of Erri de Luca.

I feel like sharing with you in pictures some lines of one of his poems : “Considero Valore” or “What I highly value” :

“I highly value any form of life, snow,

a strawberry, a fly,

the mineral kingdom,

the constellation of stars.

I highly value wine, for the time of the meal,

An unvoluntary smile,

I highly value the tiredness of someone who did not spare one’s efforts,

and two elder persons in love.

I highly value all that will not be valuable tomorrow and all that has not yet  much value today.

I highly value all kinds of pains,
I highly value sparing water,

repairing a pair of shoes and

keeping silent when needed,

Rushing up to the first cry, asking permission before sitting, feeling grateful without even knowing why.

I  highly value knowing where the North is in a room, the name of the wind that dries the laundry,

The travel of a vagabond, the nun’s fence,

The patience of the condemned man, no matter the wrong,

I highly value the use of the verb “to love”, Amore,

and the hypothesis there is a Creator

Many of those values, I have not known.”

“Oeuvres sur l’eau et autres poésies, 2002”

Erri de Luca

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erri_De_Luca

Quote about books :

“I read old books because pages that have been turned many times and that bear the marks of fingers have more weight for the eyes, because each copy of a book may belong to several lives.

Books should remain free, unattended in public spaces so that they would travel with passers-by who would take them for a while and read them.  Then books should die like their readers, used by sorrows, contaminated, drowned, put inside a stove during  Winter, torn apart by children to make little paper boats. Briefly said, books should die in any way but not because of boredom and  privately owned, sentenced to life on a shelf”.

Erri de Luca

A call to nature

July 16, 2011

Quiet days in the mountains. A  vacation that offers plenty of time for reading, quilting, hiking and observing nature. A landscape I have been seeing for year, one I never  get tired of looking at.During a reading pause on a terrace between sky and earth, I went again through the June issue of a monthly newsletter :  “The Monastic Way” by Joan Chittister, OSB.  “Food for thought” is a very good expression to describe  what her spiritual writing means for me.  Re-reading slowly some of J. Chittister´s  words, I felt like sharing the thoughts she proposed for meditation on particular days in June.

“There is a call to nature in all of us”.  I went through my photos archives and found some images to illustrate J. Chittister´s thoughts on this  inspiring theme.

“Water calls us to explore the depth of the self. It washes away, wave after wave, the seismic shocks of the day upon our souls. It soothes the riled self”.

Sunset in South Texas. I sat with friends at the edge of this wide  lake. The day had brought happiness and sadness. We all needed some peace of mind that we found as the waves moved gently towards the shore and the sun shone over the quiet waters. Hardly any sound around us but the lapping of the waves and the occasional bird singing a few notes before night fell. Serenity.

“Fire drives us out of ourselves, it touches the spark within us that leads us to create new worlds in the face of the years gone to ashes before us”.

Sitting around a fire,  whether alone or with others, is always a special moment for me. Letting one’s  mind wander over the flames, imagining  the new paths they will follow over the logs and the shapes they create is fascinating. When a spark bursts brightly and loudly reality comes back and with it the deep pleasure of the present moment.

“Earth, the vast expanse of the plains, the colors in a far away meadow, beckons us to explore, to know, to touch, to grow with the environment around us. It makes us its own and teaches us what home is about”.

Vast plains remind me of  South  Texas and Russia, meadows  are spreading  over soft hills and in the valleys all around me. High mountain pastures, their unbelievably bright flora and rare wildlife  are very much  home for me. The varied environment I lived in taught me to explore and respect nature, to know its people and the culture they developed in their surrounding area. Nature taught me a lot about “home”.

“Air, fresh and soft, teaches us how little it takes to live, to go on, to be pure of heart, to begin to live all over again, to believe. “The whole earth”, Mohammad said, “has been made a mosque and pure for me”.

A sudden puff of wind  blew a cloud of thistles all over my camera and my face… light touches of a wonderful nature. Thistledown as light as the mountain breeze in a blue sky,  tiny seeds ready to be dispersed. So little it may take to go on and live all over again.

Many thanks to Joan Chittister http://www.joanchittister.org/ for letting me reproduce part of her writing in “The Monastic Way”  and share it with you.

Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend !

Mail in the letterbox

February 28, 2011

The day started under a cold mist but with a definite hint of a blue sky above. As often at this Season, mornings look dull and grey. Then slowly but surely the fog disappears leaving behind soft layers of this Winter haze.Off I went to the woods for a morning walk with my faithful little companion, as watchful –  and playful –  as ever.

It was a quiet stroll, no encounter of any kind although Nino could confirm you there were some deers around, for sure. Unmistakable tracks and scents tickled his nose.After a pleasant and  lazy walk  through narrow paths and slightly frosted fields, we were back home. One of us decided to take a nap…

… the other went to fetch the daily paper and mail in the letterbox. And then came The Surprise ! A letter from abroad with beautiful stamps that suggested forest,  berries and little visitors creeping under the pine trees. I immediately loved those stamps  and will keep them in a special little booklet. Smalls or inchies 😉

The content of this  letter sent by Gerry in Michigan  http://torchlakeviews.wordpress.com/ was even more appreciated !

An elegant handwriting on a card,  a fine drawing  by Thomas W. Ford : “Queen Ann’s Lace” flower. In Gerry’s  envelope I also found two delightful postcards by artist, printer and naturalist Gwen Frostic. The cards are original block-prints by the artist. I simply love them !  Precious art pieces from an amazing person I learned about on the following site. It is well worth reading about Gwen Frostic’s life and achievements.

http://web.archive.org/web/20010506005958/http://www.freep.com/womenhistory99/qgwen1.htm

Many, many thanks Gerry for this thoughtful letter and gifts. If my day started under the Winter fog, it certainly continued under a bright sun 🙂 This type of “real-mail” is precious indeed.

Long before her death, Gwen Frostic wrote her epitaph:
“Here lies one doubly blessed.
She was happy and she knew it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pleiades

February 1, 2011

Some days are more eventful than others.  A little while ago, as I opened the frosted mailbox in the garden, a long and white envelope with foreign stamps was waiting for me. It contained a dear friend’s letter together with  a copy of this drawing.

“There’s part of the sun in an apple,

There’s part of the moon in a rose,

There’s part of the flaming Pleiades

In every leaf that grows”

by Augustus Bamburger

On the same day but later in the afternoon I enjoyed reading a great blog that another friend, Gerry, had just started posting : “The Gently Used Ideas Store” !

http://todaysprompt.wordpress.com/

This particular post drew my attention to the correspondence between the drawing and Gerry’s theme in this post : mythology. The mention of the Pleiades in the poem was  both strange and welcome.

http://todaysprompt.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/diy-adult-education/

In French, we often use the word “pleiade” to describe a group of renowned persons, like  “a pleiade of artists or writers, etc…”

Gerry’s prompt about mythology made me reflect on who the Pleiades really were.  So, I looked on my bookshelves for a particular book that was just waiting to be read…  Have you ever heard that a book does not exist or live until someone reads it ? It seems so true to me.

I finally found this book, here it is : a “Small  Mythology Dictionary”, very nicely illustrated too.

The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione,  daughter of Ocean and Tethys. They were Artemis´companions.  One day, as the hunter Orion pursued them and their mother, they implored the gods to save them. They were transformed into doves and then placed in the sky as a constellation. In fact, the Pleiades are only a cluster of six stars in the sky because one of the stars hides itself… Some pretend it is Merope; she was the only one of the seven sisters whose lover was mortal.

The names of the Pleiades were Alcyone, Celaneo, Electre, Maya, Merope, Sterope, Taygete.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_%28Greek_mythology%29

http://mythologica.fr/grec/pleiades.htm

In my small mythology dictionary, there was no mention of the Pleiades but a page was dedicated to Atlas, their powerful father,  son of a Titan, one of those gods who ruled  the world before the Olympian gods. Atlas and the Titans were overcome by Zeus and the Olympian gods during a terrible battle. The Pleiades´father was condemned to carry forever the heavens on his shoulders and all the weight of the world.

This is the story of a Winter day that started in a freezing and foggy morning. It ended in the sky, a dark but starry sky where I looked for a constellation of seven sisters pursued by Orion…

Thanks to Gerry and the inspiration I found in her daysprompt 🙂

“Listen to the Banned”

December 10, 2010

December 10 is the International Day for Human Rights.

Every year  and everywhere in the world on this day people, well-known and less so,  try to bring attention to the public about  a sad and  endless list of violations of human rights.

At this precise moment  men, women, children are suffering because of the deliberate cruelty of others. They are suffering because neither their fundamental rights nor their dignity are being respected. They are suffering as innocent victims of wars waged because of some leaders’ greed and intolerance. They are suffering and denied their freedom of speech, thoughts,  religion, sexual orientation, culture. They are suffering because of their very existence that others want to eliminate. The list is long, too long, the pain is intolerable  and the hope to see a liberating light often too weak.

In the recent magazine of Amnesty International, I read about this new CD : “Listen to the Banned”.

“A compilation and a unique musical statement by artists who are united in one single, important issue – the protection of the freedom of musical expression, a freedom many take for granted” but one that is not accepted in many countries. Censorship can be extreme.

In many  countries, musicians are targeted because their songs tell of the frustrations and aspirations of their fellow citizens. Their messages are received even by illiterates and  shared from mouth to ear independently of media and governement control.

I like to think of this day as a day of Hope, for where would we be without hope ?  Hence my small flowers of hope surrounding the Banned  and their music. A wonderful music from various continents but with a single message : freedom of expression.

Music must not be silenced

Deeyah

The following are two out of 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights :

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Here is a link to listen to some of  these banned musicians :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3fVPqvZUvY

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”.


Oil

March 3, 2010

Those are the last drops, or bubbles rather, of an olive oil from Portugal given  by a friend. A particularly tasty, fruity, mellow kind of oil. When I turned the bottle upside down to get the last drop of it,  honeycombed bubbles formed and gave the bottle an antique and precious look !

About a year ago I visited some parts of Andalusia in Spain and especially a museum of olive; visitors were led  from a garden of olive trees through the various ancient rooms of an hacienda where  the famous oil was produced. The visit ended in a shop ( very olive-minded 😉 and in a restaurant which offered numerous dishes where the delicious oil played an exquisite role !

“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of heaven” (Thomas Jefferson).  This is one of the 80 sorts of olive trees growing in this hacienda.

Those are the old  jars that had contained the precious oil years ago.

Words that express the respect and care people had for their olive trees’ plantations.

A wonderful book for the “aficionados” of olive oil (I am one of them). It will tell you all about the origins of the olive from Africa to the Middle East, from Europe to the Americas and even some parts in Australia. And last but not least,  some recipes  are shown whose pictures only make you hungry. Here is a special treat for you : Bruschetta.

It is prepared by rubbing garlic (if you like it) on toasted bread that is then covered with fresh tomatoes and basil and smothered with oil. Olive, of course 😉

In 1889, Vincent van Gogh staying in the Provence/France wrote to his brother Theo : ” If you could see the olives at this moment… The old silver foliage and the silver-green against the blue… The murmur of an olive grove has something very intimate, immensely old. It is too beautiful for me to try to conceive of it or dare to paint it”.

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

Independence

July 5, 2009

“Each of us has learned the glory of Independence.

May each of us learn the glory of Interdependence”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Excerpt of his speech in Buenos Aires

1st December 1936Amalfi