Friday, October 28, 2011

Haiku Monday: Joy


Is your calendar choc full of things you want to do but can't fit them all in?  Last night was our downtown annual Fall Chili Cook-Off from 12 of our best restaurants.   Last weekend was the Harvest Festival, WelcomeBack to the Farm Days with hayrides , corn mazes and  veggies  to explore. Every mountain community is having apple festivals with folks proudly bringing their best pies, jams, jellies, butters and applewood smoked Q.

   This weekend our most skilled surgeons are carving pumpkins while children chase piglets. There are pumpkin patches and pumpkin games and pumpkin festivals of every description!

There are invitations on the tray to bring your chairs and a favorite brew to hang out and tell a tale or two around a bonfire.  There is a spooktacular on offer at the local multi-plex and prizes for movie character look alikes. There are many opportunities to revisit  youthful escapades by once again "dressing up" as your wannabe self. The stodgy-est CPA always comes as a rock star doesn't he? There is an entire page in the papers for things for children to do this festive weekend. In Mermaid's neighborhood, they put costumes on the horses and ride from house to house collecting horse treats then later, once the horses are all home, the humans gather for chili, story telling, bonfire and booze.... I'm invited and I am going!!!!!

The weekend traffic counts are up on all the vista roads. Folks  just  plain yearn to be in the midst of all the Autumnal splendor. To experience this annual miracle in a way that triggers deep breathing , splitting  smiles and the comfort of feeling all right with the world.  

                                                Joy is in the air and being shared!

Haiku Monday is the perfect location for  sharing so this week our theme is:  joy
 The Rules:
Each participant may enter 3 haiku for judging.
Visuals are welcome and will be a contributing factor in case of ties.
Classic haiku format : 5-7-5, kigo and kireji are required. 
The actual word "joy" does NOT have to be in your haiku but,
the emotion should be present.
Entries will be accepted until midnight  on All Hallows Eve (PST)
Winner(s) will be announced by Noon on All Saints Day (PST)

To those of you  who are new to visiting here at the Pond, please be advised Blowfish ,
will most assuredly participate in the judging.  We will make the rounds to your individual blogs  to see the visuals but please post all your entries here.

                                                Good Luck Everyone!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saint Aubert's Faith

 My first glimpse of Mont St. Michele was from a narrow street , in  a tiny village, miles from the Mont. I am not sure it is possible to fully grasp the scale of this wonder from afar, or frankly, while you   are on the rock. It staggers the brain.

I felt enormous sympathy for St. Aubert.  By some accounts,  this 8th century Bishop of Avaranches  would visit a tidal island off the Normandy coast, known as the Rock of the Tomb, to meditate.  On one such retreat it is said the Archangel Saint Michel "thumped" Aubert on the head instructing him to build a sanctuary on this rock. There must have been disbelief, certainly resistance to the enormity of the assignment because other historians claim ultimately Saint Michael was obliged to make three such requests of Aubert until finally resorting to  using his finger to  burn a hole in Aubert's head.

I cannot understand how it is possible for anyone to see Mont Saint Michel and  not believe in God. Or miracles. Or say a prayer of gratitude to St. Aubert for his compliance. He is one of my newly recognized heroes of the faith.   It is said that one of the Tresor's of Mont Saint Michel is the preserved skull of Saint Aubert. I did not see this for myself so I cannot verify there is a hole form Saint Michel's visit. It is of no importance to me, I do not need to see Aubert's skull to recognize the miracle.

 Once parked on the causeway , walking up to the actual island, it was difficult to accept the reality. This is a medieval city. It has potable water, trees, flowers, bushes, streets, hotels, restaurants, shops, homes, and stairs. Lots and lots of stairs), incredible architecture and at the top of the spire there is  a gold statue of St. Michel. It is so  high, that even on the island, as high as I could climb and, with a 135 telephoto lens, this is the best image I could capture.

My visit here was actually on the Feast of St. Michel. There
was a special service which  I waited in line to attend then,
had a mad dash down the rock and over the causeway before the tide came rushing in. I was not staying on the Mont so getting off before the tide rushes in is essential.

I could say volumes about the wonders of the architecture but ..... well...... see for yourselves.


I could not photograph inside the sanctuary during a service.
Some did.  I took a few more images as I made my way down, down, down to the causeway level.

                                                       The shadow in the tides

       Then these last images  before driving off the causeway, back into this century.


                               PS) Not my photograph but too beautiful to not include:

        AND: Please take a smiling look at the coat of arms for Mont Saint Michel !!!!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Because the Earth grows good here

 I went first to Monet's garden in Giverny. I had read, long years ago, Monet designed his garden as a painting.  Not that there was a garden he chose to paint but that he had a vision in his head of a beautiful garden he wished to paint. The garden did not exist. In fact, during the late 1880's most gardens were formal. Like the public gardens at Versailles or the
Tuileries . Monet envisioned his garden as "clumps of color" and set about to create his vision.

 I believe I read somewhere it
was 16 years before he actually
 made a painting of his garden.
Once he was asked why he created his garden there in Giverny.
His reply, " Because the Earth grows good here"  Just an hour west of Paris,  within the boundaries of beautiful Normandy
everything appears to grow good.

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this visit was the size of the garden. It is huge. Just the garden at the house is huge, not including the Japanese water gardens. There are  stately teuteurs supporting climbing roses and metal arches spanning the pathways for  creating light rhythms while supporting plants at their blooming. It is more than the eye can hold.

 Monet did more than clump his colors. He clumped shadow and light, he clumped textures and he clumped all of these at multiple heights. I read about how he begged for seeds and how , over time, few came to visit or paint or study or admire who did not come bearing the gift of a fine new plant. Monet was not a horticulturist, he was an artist and he viewed each species as a component of a composition. I will never look at a garden the same way again.  As a strange aside, as I was experiencing the wonder of Monet's garden I thought, " How I loathe Monsanto! There will be no more century old gardens with terminator seeds".

The water garden came after the others. Monet had to buy land across the road, receive a variance  to divert water from a small tributary to the Seine and seek plants not native to Normandy. Most species of water lillies require warm waters to survive. The pond, connected in numerous paintings by the Japanese bridge were positioned so one would be in shadow while the other was in sunlight. There are numerous accounts by Monet's contemporaries of his passion  not for painting the water gardens, but the reflections therein.

When I look at the actual gardens and think about Monet's pallette I am stunned.
In his early, student days, he used the traditional darker paints. In the Impressionist years he wanted light, not dark. He is said to have organized his painters palette in a very specific order which included just 6 colors: white lead, cadmium yellow, vermillion, ,madder, cobalt blue and chrome green. To paint shadows with light was his mission. A right fine one.


I snapped this one last image as I was leaving Monet's home.

What is the connection between artists and their chickens?

Friday, October 14, 2011


On the first morning home from my travels I opened my eyes in a dark room and thought,
" Oh no! croissants and tea will not be waiting".  Nor beautiful window boxes, nor church chimes nor unknown birds singing their morning joys.

There was the comfort though of my own nest.

In the 3am dark I wandered  to the bath on auto pilot. No longer in a kaleidoscope of places trying to remember the facilities locations. En suite? Down the hall? Occupied?  I resisted turning on any lights. But. I was awake. It was 3am not 9am. Maybe a Tylenol PM would solve the problem. This decision required light and then... staring back from the mirror was Hagatha the Worst.
Dear God!
I quickly exterminated the vision by turning off the lights and returned to my bed. Later, mercifully, Hagatha was banished and my own visage was returned to the mirror.
A blessing.
Marginal, but still a blessing.

Downstairs I heard Blowfish starting his day. I could tell he was making an effort to be quiet. Smart man as he did not yet know who would be descending the stairs. Fishy, or the other.
I delayed, taking a seat  at the top of the stair like a child awaiting the Christmas reveal. I would not be traversing ancient, winding stone steps worn into loblollies in the center from centuries of footsteps.  I would not pause at 9 foot ancient leaded glass windows with a view of a moat , or breathtaking gardens, or  French blue skies. My hand would not caress ancient railings polished smooth by the hands of French nobility. 

I knew I would not descend our stairs  to embrace the comforts of my own home.  While I was elated to hug my loves I was not elated to leave France. In fact, on my third or fourth day there,
I sent a text message to both Mermaid and Blowfish which said,
"Looking for work, will send for you soonest!" I had hopes of apprenticing with a confectioner or a baker. I have never made
a croissant. Now that I have delighted in the real thing I am urgently wondering how I will find one here. I will have to learn how to make them.

Then too,  there is chocolate. In France, chocolate is an art form. Seriously. The chocolates are so beautiful one hates to consume them and destroy such beauty.  But there is the matter of taste. Oh! to the beauty magnified  in your mouth.  So good in fact, that I did learn to not flinch at the $7.50 cost of a  one inch square confection. Money is irrelevant in this application because just one is enough to satiate.  Worth every Euro.

There are no turrets here at the Pond.
Not even one. Tragically, there also is no family chapel  tucked into the turrets. There are no great stone stables , or vineyards  or manicured grounds.  Also no grooms, vintners or groundskeepers.  Alas.

There will be more on my travels.
Once croissants are located.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eager hounds circle,
Alert steeds telepath joy.
Velvet hunt coat morn!