Archive for 2017

Getting Out the Vote

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

The Maple Tree

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Although it stills feels as hot and muggy as midsummer here in Washington, DC, it is actually the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. So, a painting and a poem in celebration. The leaves are changing color; we await those crisp cool blue-sky days. And wait… Happy Autumn, everyone.

The Maple with its tassell flowers of green
That turns to red, a stag horn shapèd seed
Just spreading out its scallopped leaves is seen,
Of yellowish hue yet beautifully green.
Bark ribb’d like corderoy in seamy screed
That farther up the stem is smoother seen,
Where the white hemlock with white umbel flowers
Up each spread stoven to the branches towers
And mossy round the stoven spread dark green
And blotched leaved orchis and the blue-bell flowers—
Thickly they grow and neath the leaves are seen.
I love to see them gemm’d with morning hours.
I love the lone green places where they be
And the sweet clothing of the Maple tree.

—John Clare 1793-1864

Elizabeth

Sarlat, Shirt, Sculpture

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Glimpses of an alternate life.

St. Cyprien, Sunday market

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

Our favorite day of the week in one of our favorite places: St. Cyprien/Dordogne.

La Venise du Périgord

Friday, June 16th, 2017

Brantôme.

Chocolatrium

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

How could we resist a visit to the Chocolatrium, where Cluizel manufactures its fabulous and fanciful chocolates? Its small museum offers exhibits on the history and production of chocolate and glimpses of chocolatiers at work; its workshop holds demonstrations and monthly chocolate-based cooking classes (in December the feature was a bûche de Noël); and its shop displays confections as if they were gemstones.

We spent a long time choosing gifts for friends and family, and it wasn’t until after returning home that I discovered Cluizel has a sister Chocolatrium in New Jersey.

Bryant 

Miraculous Abundance

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Before traveling to France, I had read about this years-long labor of love by a couple who gave up their careers as international lawyer (hers) and documentary-creating sailor (his) to raise their children in a healthy environment. In 2006 Perrine and Charles Hervé-Gruyer set out to create an organic farm (La ferme biologique du Bec Hellouin) in a small Norman village, knowing zero about farming. At first they floundered (“We made many mistakes”), but doggedly researched and experimented, discovering and embracing permaculture* as their underlying farming philosophy.

Today, from gardens totalling around 1500 square meters, they produce an abundance of vegetables, fruits, and herbs—over 800 varieties—without chemicals or fossil-fuel-powered tools, in an incredibly beautiful 20-hectare (49-acre) jewel of a farm that includes water features and tiny bridges, orchards, a greenhouse, flower-edged footpaths, and free-ranging animals. Their tremendous success has brought a stream of international visitors seeking to follow their model or just inform themselves and maybe buy some peas. This month Jim and I were among them, and my sketches fail to capture the magic of this place. Miraculous Abundance is the title of their book, now available in English.

The admirable larger goal of the Hervé-Gruyers: “To nourish humanity while healing the planet.”

*FYI: Definitions of permaculture, from the practical to the poetic.

Abbey of Le Bec Hellouin

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Although this Normandy abbey is now a historic monument belonging to the French state, it continues to house a community of Benedictine monks. In the eleventh century, two of them went on to become Archbishops of Canterbury.

Au revoir Paris–bonjour Normandie

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Bercy/Bibliothèque Nationale

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Off to explore a quartier which has greatly changed since we lived in Paris. The formerly industrial neighborhood is now home to a cultural-educational-flower-filled park edged with spiffy apartment towers, and the 19th century stone wine warehouses now accommodate shops and restaurants. It’s an easy walk across the Seine to the four controversial towering volumes of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, today packed with students cramming for the Bac.