Friday, June 29, 2007
Monday, June 25, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Charm is the word. Un nid de chardonneret, I described it to them, a goldfinch's nest, and later thought of the connection with the word charm. Charming, pretty, welcoming, to be sure, but also when there one is under a charm, spellbound, elsewhere, apt to be lost.
Inside is a lustre of treasure, stencilled plates and dishes and bols for cider, pots and jugs and other vessels, old tools and country bits and pieces, restored and given dignity again, pretty, worn, oddly shaped and slightly mismatched wine glasses. The front doorway is no more, it has become a china cabinet,
and everywhere Guy's paintings. In the Paris winters, and later in St Brieuc, and dreaming of garden and village, he decided to paint it. The work grew and grew, last year he had an exhibition in the Rohan pavilion in Gouarec, and was beside himself with happiness. They are rich, colourful joyous oils, proficient but slightly naive. He's lately been amusing himself painting on old pieces of glassware, a need to embellish every surface.
Claudine arrives, cheerful and serene and brisk as ever in spite of having worked all morning and come back to a houseful, some of whom she doesn't know. Without ever once seeming to fuss or flap, she keeps us up to the fairly tight schedule, before the events of the afternoon. It would be very easy to dawdle and linger and gossip. We brave the blustery showers and eat our sandwiches and then the raspberries with crème fraiche outdoors under the parasol.
Other people, and this rather engaging King Charles spaniel, appear over lunch time. When the tour party, mostly English, arrive, and set off round the garden, everyone seems to be doing fine without my help, so I lag behind and take in the detail.
I didn't bother with grammar corrections, lessons are finished, we're on holiday. Anyway, it's too late now, it's been printed, and it's very sweet.
Frogs in our garden are brownish, secretive, occasional, far outnumbered by toads, who are all right in their way but have some rather nasty habits. The frogs here are jewelled and enamelled green and gold, and bask and display themselves and are very much at home. I can imagine any of them would be more than happy to retrieve the golden ball and be kissed in return.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
One of the reasons Joe stopped posting the poems originally was that doing so one at a time they appeared, as it were, in reverse order, which was unsatisfactory. This aspect of blogging as narrative is interesting but problematical, as I think a number of people have remarked. The 'Explorers' poems can be dipped into and read in isolation of one another, but really they do need to be read as a cohesive whole. However, publishing them in their entirety in one long post seemed, as Joe put it, " rather against the spirit of blogging".
I have found the experience of receiving them in batches, with time to read and absorb them in between, very satisfying, so we decided releasing them in groups of perhaps five or so at a time (preceeded by an epigraph in the case of the first ones), with photographs, was the best way, probably at intervals of about a couple of weeks. I'll post here to say when a new installment is out, and Joe will supply a link too.
I've certainly enjoyed preparing this project, so please go and have a look!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I had drunk a glass of rosé and had been reading Hannah Green's 'Little Saint' (recommended). I was observing the goldfinches around the tree just across the way; another pair or another brood, but they clearly are still nesting, unless it's just the parent birds enjoying each other's company around the old place now the youngsters have flown.
I thought of how very small their nest must be, and how miraculous it is that a whole handful of fully fledged birds could spread their wings wide enough to carry them through the air in every direction, each one a discrete creature, from so tiny a container, just as it was marvellous that as hatchlings they had unfolded themselves from the diminutive confines of their eggs, living beings emerging from a space apparently impossibly too small. And about how birds, and the smaller they are the more it seems to be so, are concentrated kernels of life force and energy, seeming to contain a power and vitality denser than most of the world around them.
I thought about how ideas, ours, God's, could be like that, and I just felt as if I was on the edge of something. I was dizzy with joy and wonder of the moment, one of those when everything seems complete and as it should be, and the surrounding sounds and air and light seem to form a harmonious whole.
If I could just catch that slant of light, I thought, the way things are appearing now, 'point the word camera' just so... and I fetched pen and paper.
Away to my left down the village street were voices, a dog barking, then answering barks from up the road... at first this was fine, something the virtuoso balancing act of the moment could sustain, like a patch of obscurity or confusion or movement, a patch of dappled shade, in the composition of a picture which adds interest, dynamic, rather than distraction. But as I started catching words and phrases as my neighbour's brothers got into their cars and drove off, and as she came out of her garden and her dog and mine started to shout their protest and welcome respectively, it became apparent that the perfect composition I had, as I perceived it, stumbled upon, was disintegrating.
I brought out another chair and she joined me.
Ten minutes later, my Man from Porlock left, having refused the glass of wine a second one of which might have mitigated the interruption for me. I picked up the pen and looked at the line or two I had written; it looked banal and pointless. The light had shifted, clouded over, the objects looked flat and formless and without interest. I went in to start preparing dinner.
However, you can return, but pan out, away from the need for immediacy, from the bright illumination which seemed to offer so much but might only have been garish, over-coloured, pretentious. Use a different setting, past tense mode, take a wider shot, include more background detail, take your time, rearrange the objects a little even, no one will know if you're careful. Make a different picture, perhaps even a better one.
( My thanks, again, to Tall Girl for the phrase and the idea 'point the word camera', sorry, I can't remember which post...!)
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Early morning, dew on the strawberry leaves, the sun will burn through the mist.
Another day's warmth and the strawberries will be just right.
Mid-morning, looking out of the window, a young blackbird, brown speckled, his beak just turning saffron yellow, is slipping below the runners, harvesting. As he is chased off, he drops his catch, a big ripe one, half pecked away. Another sorry shred hangs from its calix.
I love the blackbirds for ecstatic, excitable things. I even love the way they can't resist the luminous, glossy red of the berries, go wild for it. But I haven't nurtured these plants - a gift from the beautiful Maxime, a gourmet and connoisseur of fine things even at his tender 12 years, two years ago - on the terrace, strawed them and fed them and saved them from slugs and woodlice, only to see them binged in a day by marauding blackbirds. Tom applies his initiative, kindly fetches a raised bed surround from the vegetable garden, and improvises a knee-high fruit cage, which I can step into to reach them. By the end of the day, there is a generous, unmolested, bowlful for the picking.
Gilding the lily as ever, and ignoring my inner food police, I sprinkle them with icing sugar and rosé wine.
William Morris, it seems, could not bring himself to stop the thrushes raiding his strawberries, so turned them into chintz.