hidden depths

my son joseph gathered these mermaid’s purses for me when we were at the beach saturday evening. they were dried, and covered in crusted beach gunk, and they appeared mostly matte black. when we got home, i placed them in a bowl of salt water just to loosen the beach gunk so I could wipe them clean. i figured their shape alone had earned them the right to be a STILL blog subject. but after a quick salt water soak, and against a white background, theses caramel, coffee, and cognac colors suddenly emerged. i feel like i just won the egg case lottery. a lottery ticket i would totally buy, by the way, if someone were selling them.

shark or ray egg cases

la corniche plage, sète, france

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open season

i naturally look at snails primarily as a natural, bioregional phenomenon in certain ecosystems. they have scientific significance and make up a certain stratum of the food chain, eating plants and in turn being eaten by other animals. that is how one thinks about snails where i come from. but the first thing that occurs to our french friends when they see a snail is, first, whether it is fully grown, which means that it has begun reproducing, and is therefore harvestable. And, second, whether it is currently snail season or not. i view them in the same way i would view a beetle for instance, or a mayfly, or a cicada. food for something, certainly, but not food for me. our neighbors, on the other hand, think, “hmmm . . . dinner?”

land snails

autignac, france

p.s. a snail’s shell forms a logarithmic spiral. Most snail shells are right-handed or dextral  in coiling, meaning that if the shell is held with the apex (the tip, or the juvenile whorls) pointing towards the observer, the spiral proceeds in a clockwise direction from the apex to the opening.

  • Carol says:

    I’m with you. Just pass the butter and garlic and hold the snail


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after 27 years of marriage, we still can’t agree on succulents

september 30 was our 27th wedding anniversary. we celebrated it by picking grapes in the morning, and agreeing over lunch to try for another 27, if the universe allows. we see the world mostly from the same point of view, but i can’t lure him over to my side on the beauty of succulents. i wouldn’t call it a crisis, but…

succulent tips (possibly pachyphtum)

autignac, france

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the endless circle

the vendange (grape harvest ) finished today. and already, the red leaves on a few of the vines serve as a reminder that the leaves will soon fall, and pruning season will begin in a couple of months. i have long dreamed of living simply in a great city for a year with almost no possessions. the only thing i think i would regret would be the ability to look out my window every day and know what season i was in, and what season was about to follow. not just spring summer winter fall. but the season of sharp lobed hepatica followed by the season of trillium followed by the season of swamp marigold, followed by the season of budding weeping willows, followed by… yes, that would be very difficult.

grapvine wreath made from syrah grape vines

jean-luc’s vineyard, autignac, france

  • a beauty.

  • Rebecca says:

    You may be interested in the app 72 Seasons. It covers the 72 Japanese seasons including the foods, fauna and flora. It is so sensitive to the seasons, as are you.
    Having only recently discovered your blog I throughly enjoy your post’s elegance and your compelling comments.
    I haven’t discovered why or how long you will be in France but enjoy every minute, as I am sure you will.


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little fish

if you grow up in a place where everyone around you craves a particular food, then you will naturally learn to crave that same food. as difficult as it is to believe, as an american, no one here craves hamburgers. i’m not a typical american, culinarily speaking, but if you ask me for my top five food cravings when i need comfort, hamburgers will be on that list. you know what they crave here? sardines, apparently. i went to meet our fishmonger this morning, and he was selling sardines this week, after several weeks without them. every single person at his stand bought at least a kilo of sardines. as if they were satisfying a long, built-up craving, and at last the sardines were back. i ordered a kilo myself, and we grilled them. they were wonderful in their way. but the next time i really need something to lay into, it’s not going to be sardines. it’s going to involve some lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, ketchup, mustard, and maybe a third of a pound of medium rare ground beef.


mediterranean sea

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