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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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)

Two books, two women

September 21, 2009

Laura Diaz and Mari are two characters that could not be more further apart.

Carlos Fuentes (Mexico) and Haruki Murakami (Japan) are also two favourite writers of mine. Both readings were fascinating and yet, how different their main characters.

Diaz-After Dark

Laura Diaz is the passionate woman who fascinated me in Carlos Fuentes’ book : “The Years with Laura Diaz”.

Mari is a shy and rather reserved young person around whom Haruki Murakami  wrote an eerie novel, “After Dark”, a book  you cannot put down easily. In fact I read it in a few hours, almost in the story real time.

Laura Diaz lives mostly in Mexico  whereas Mari’s story is set in Tokyo.

“After Dark” is a story of encounters in the hours between midnight and 7 am on a particular night. “The Years with Laura Diaz” lead you all along the 20th century  and the main events that marked that period.

Tetsuya Takahashi is Mari’s encounter during that night. The men in Laura Diaz’ life bring her to various places in Mexico, North America and Europe.

The writing style of these two books is very different too. In Carlos Fuentes’ novel it is flamboyant and very descriptive,  South American writers excel in it.  In “After Dark”,  Haruki Murakami writes about reality or dreams with a more concise style and shorter sentences, always making you want to read further and see beyond the story itself.

Laura and Mari are women you get attached to until the last page.  I almost regretted closing these two books, wishing that the story would go on and on. Imagining another end. Laura, Mari will stay with you for a good while should you decide to read those novels.

“I Dream a World”

January 22, 2009

i-dream-a-world1Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America

Photographs and interviews by Brian Lanker, Edited by Barbara Summers,  Foreword by Maya Angelou.

A precious gift I received years ago from an American friend in Central Africa. Seventy-five wonderful women are presented through photographs and interviews. Each person recalling a special event in her life. Each of them in her own language, accent and with a great openness.

Barbara Summers writes :”… A truly beautifying discovery for me was to find so much love in anger. It was a fist-up, death-defying love that challended the unfair conditions of life and muscled in on injustice as it nursed both sides of a nation. Valiant and vulnerable, these women were there”.

A Poem by Mari Evans from “I Am a Black Woman”

“I

am a black woman

tall as a cypress

strong

beyond all definition still

defying place

and time

and circumstance

assailed

impervious

indestructible

Look

on me and be

renewed”

In this time of celebration in the United States, I took this book out of one of my bookshelves and slowly turned its pages with admiration, respect, gratefulness. And  deep emotion.  Looking at the Inauguration Day’s celebration on the Swiss TV, I saw some beautiful women’s faces and expressions in the public listening to their new President.  I saw their shining eyes and huge smiles, I saw and heard their cries of joy and encouragement. I saw different silent forms of happiness, tears, attentiveness to every word and movement. Prayers. Thankfulness.

Unforgettable moments shared miles away.

I would like to share Brian Lanker’s words at the end of his preface of this superb book :

“In fact, all of the women in this book have dreamed of a world not only better for themselves but for generations to come, a world where character and ability matter, not color or gender. As they dreamed that world, they acted on those dreams and they changed America.

This celebration of sisters is not an attempt to elevate or lower any segment of society, it is merely an opportunity to savor the triumphs of the human spirit, a spirit that does not speak only of black history. My greatest lesson was that this is my history, this is American history”.

Thank you Rosa Parks, Eva Jessye, Maxine Waters, Clara McBride Hale, Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee, Marva Collins, Septima Clark, Mattie Morris Losey… and so many others.