i’m as excited as a schoolgirl going to see beyoncé. on saturday we will drive the three hours up to rodez, in the aveyron, where painter pierre soulages was born, and where he recently constructed a museum for his work. françois hollande, the french president, has called soulages the greatest living artist. he is known for his black on black painting, and his theory of “outrenoir” which means “beyond black,” and which focuses not on the blackness of black, but on the light that reflects off of black surfaces and makes them luminous. sigh. he’s ninety years old and has been married to the same woman for 70 years. sigh. he’s independently wealthy and gets up every morning still wanting to paint. sigh. i think i’m in love. if i see him, can i scream?
several days of rain in a row here, including a windy and rainy thanksgiving day. but it was, after all, a rainy day. not a snowy day. we are still waiting for our first below freezing temperatures here. steve and joe walked up to get shellfish tonight in t-shirts. and, as i remind myself every time i walk past the glass patio door, i am still looking at blooming geraniums on my outdoor terrace with december nearly in sight. i picked this head of white beauties today, just because i could.
white geranium (pelargonium)
first, let me say happy thankgiving to all my fellow americans! i can honestly say i will not miss being at home for the christmas and year-end holidays this year, with their endless and deadening marketing and commercialization. But I have a soft spot for thanksgiving, where we all spend a day thinking about being grateful, and eating with family. i don’t know how they’ve managed not to ruin it, but they have failed gloriously. i’ll be thinking of all of you and your efforts to achieve that impossible thing–the perfectly roasted turkey. bon courage à vous tous. as for today’s post, i normally shun simplistic and prescriptive words, exhorting us on toward our better selves. but i just like the way this one looks, and i think there is enough messiness in the design to leave room for mistakes, perhaps many of them, on the way to following the word’s advice.
in minnesota (where i usually reside for any new visitors to this blog), is not someplace where flowers of any variety begin to bloom in november. there is a roundabout on the outskirts of Béziers (where i currently and temporarily live, for those same new visitors to the blog), that is our gateway to anywhere we want to go along the meditnerranean coast of languedoc. in other words, we use this roundabout a lot. so when i spied these poppies this week, i knew they had not been there previously, and had just bloomed within a day or two. that is to say: in mid-november! it is only coincidence that this same week brought the first significant snow to minnesota. only coincidence. it means nothing.
california poppy (pavot de californie)
béziers, languedoc, france
as a sort of time capsule to commemorate some of the wildlife sightings we’ve had here, i’d like to draw attention to these hedgehog spines, left in little clumps on a boulder, where we believe a local raptor called a buse variable ate a very careful and tentative meal. the other night, climbing to an out of the way restaurant in the forested hills behind our village, we saw a creature disappear into the brush by the side of the road, sporting a racoon tail, but much longer than a raccoon’s. it turns out that was a genette, known in English as a genet, a sort of cross between a racoon and a lemur. joe currently has a terrarium where he is undertaking the care and feeding of our pet praying mantis. we watched a wild boar hustle across an open field toward cover last weekend. on the way home from barcelona, we looked down onto the etang de leucate and watched flamingos browsing in the shallow water near shore. and, though it didn’t happen this trip, but rather in the summer of 2014, we did have one of our most thrilling wildlife sightings of all time here–a hoopoe drilling for worms and grubs with his long curved beak, in the middle of the road, near one of our favorite vineyards. when the kids were little we always read them wildlife and animal books, and the hoopoe was one of those mythical animals, like a black panther, that everyone always dreamed of seeing in person someday. not to mention the fact that it has the greatest latin name of all time: upupa epops. just saying upupa epops in our family could stop tears, fights, temper tantrums, and misunderstandings. it was like nighttime triaminic cold cough and flu medicine. it just made everything peaceful again. thank you, hoopoe, for your preposterous name.
european hedgehog spines