dead? or dormant?

the drought here hit home today when we drove up into one of our favorite vineyards for a sunset aperitif. the grapes on most of the vines, only a week away from harvest, were little sweet peas, or chick peas, when they should have been marbles by now, or even, well, grapes. but the real devastation occurred as we pulled up to steve’s secret stash. there is a shallow hillside next to an obscure gravel road, that is usually carpeted with sage colored wild thyme. most years we make our pilgrimage and steve carefully digs up one of the plants in order to add it to the potted herb garden he keeps on our terrace. this year, however, it was as if a favorite forest had been leveled by a wildfire. the entire hillside was ghostly with dried, brittle thyme branches. not a single sage colored triangular leaf in sight. he ceremonially dug one of them up anyway, and i took a picture of it, before he placed it in a pan of water, and began monitoring it like an invalid. we will see whether his nursing reveals the plant to be dead, or merely sleeping through this year, in hopes of more rain in 2017.

wild thyme

laurens, languedoc, france

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  • Mary Ann says:

    This made me feel sad. We are putting our Dear Cat, Willie, to sleep today for his final rest. Reading your words made me think deeper about death. All living things must come to an end. I am hoping that your Wild Thyme finds it’s way back to life. xo

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    • Mary Ann, I am so sorry to hear about Willie. We had two cat who live to be 19, and 20 years old. They died seven years ago and we still talk about hem regularly. so I share your sorrow. But usually when we bring them up now it is to tell a funny story and we all laugh. So, trust that your grief will one day turn into joyful gratitude. With sympathy, Mary Jo

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  • Mary Ann says:

    Thank you for your kind and heartfelt words, Mary Jo. Our Vet thought we should try a steroid for a week and see what happens. How incredible that your cats lived to be 19 and 20. That was a gift. xo

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relative losses

an important part of engineering is tolerance. in other words, between which two extremes will this material function, and at which point will it fail? previously, when i was an aerospace engineer, ultimate failure was defined as “loss of craft, loss of crew.” if all of the triply redundant systems that we designed failed concurrently or consecutively, the consequences were, to put it bluntly, death and destruction. these days, my experiments in tolerance have to do with the shapes, and the shades of color, of the rocks on our favorite mediterranean beach. is this rock red or reddish brown? is this rock flat enough? is it regular enough? is its color consistent, or striated? the cost of a miscalculation is relatively forgiving: “loss of rock, loss of moment.” both the rock and the moment are precious of course, but it’s good to keep things in perspective.

beach rocks from the mediterranean

sète, france

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  • Mary Ann says:

    I think I am patient–in many ways. I was a Kindergarten Teacher for a lifetime. I am patient with children, animals, the weather, and time. But I feel impatient with dishonesty, injustice, unkindness, and disrespect for life and love.

    Love your message and those rocks.
    xo

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  • margie says:

    love this one

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quick spark or long burn

i just read an article about relationships that sorted people into quick sparks and long burns. i am an irretrievable long burn relationship person. i have dated three people in my life, all monogamously. and as most of you know, still blog has been a very long and committed relationship as well. today’s post is number 1700. that’s four years and a bunch of days of never missing a single post since january 1, 2012. happy anniversary, still blog. i still love you like it’s the first time.

collection of stems from the garrigue

hérault, languedoc, france

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  • Lisa says:

    Happy Blog birthday! I love reading Still every morning before starting my day. Thanks for all the beauty that you put before us every day!

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  • Mary Ann says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday! I just recently found you and now we are Best Friends. I, too, now begin each new day with you. My heart, mind, and soul soar with your STILL beauty. Love You So. xo

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  • Dede says:

    Agreed! Seeing the beauty in Stillblog makes my day and has through the years served as an inspiration! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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  • Carol says:

    Happy Blogday to you!!! Thank you for starting my day with something beautiful

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  • Tracy Klinesteker says:

    Congratulations on this milestone birthday. It must be tremendously fulfilling to see the success you’ve had with this. Keep up the inspiration.

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  • Congrats!!

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hot sun, cool shade

we arrived in southern france in the middle of a heat wave and a drought. the heat can be crippling, and a surprising number of decisions each day get made by taking the sun into account: which side of the street you walk on, when you run your errands, what time you serve dinner on the terrace, how often you water your plants, when you open your windows (at night), and when you close them and pull the curtains (during the day). the difference between sunshine and shade can feel as dramatic as walking out of a sunny afternoon into an air conditioned room.

riverside bulrushes (jonc)

l’orb river, le bouscet d’orb, languedoc, france

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  • Mary Ann says:

    I *love* this dramatic photo! I sat here imagining exactly what you spoke about. It has been a very dry and hot summer here in Vermont. Most folks are ready for fall to begin. What will your winter in southern France be like? xo

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  • You summarized my thoughts exactly on how it is here in New York City!!! I find myself slowly walking down a block taking in little air-conditioning puffs that have escaped when someone opens a door!

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  • cecelia says:

    Today, I really appreciate your effort to shoot your photos without a shadow. This is lovely, but the shadows are distracting. Plus, I am totally enjoying southern France through your eyes.

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  • Kristin says:

    Love this contrast.

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i like rules and i like breaking rules

one of my rules is that i don’t photograph domesticated, culinary, or agricultural subjects for still blog, because there is too much access to them, and part of the point of still blog is finding creativity within the constraints i’ve placed on myself. one of my other rules, is that i don’t always follow my own rules.

autignac, france

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  • Mary Ann says:

    So happy you broke one of your rules for this! Those colors, shapes, textures, and I can only image the smell.
    xo
    ps…hope you made something delicious!

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  • Ingrid says:

    My favorite!

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  • margie says:

    yummy

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