March 1st, 2018

In Like a Lion

Wishing you warmth and a bouquet of late winter flowers, wherever you are.

Polly

February 18th, 2018

Not Hallmark

Perusing the 21st century greeting card.

 

 

November 4th, 2017

Getting Out the Vote

September 22nd, 2017

The Maple Tree

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

June 19th, 2017

Sarlat, Shirt, Sculpture

Glimpses of an alternate life.

June 18th, 2017

St. Cyprien, Sunday market

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

June 16th, 2017

La Venise du Périgord

Brantôme.

June 15th, 2017

Chocolatrium

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 

June 14th, 2017

Miraculous Abundance

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.

June 14th, 2017

Abbey of Le Bec Hellouin

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.