Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wayside Crosses

Templar cross
Lacapelle Balaguier
Ever since my first visit to France in 2005, I've been intrigued by wayside crosses and crucifixes. They dot the landscape of rural France as well as the rues and ruelles of its towns and villages. They are quite literally...everywhere. And from just a little research via Google, I've discovered that their meanings are as diverse as their locations. Many are, of course, religious statements. But they also mark the crossroads of major routes and tiny rural chemins. Some are waymarkers for pilgrimage paths.They can indicate boundaries of villages or country estates. Crosses were often erected by wells and springs, on high points and at other places of geological interest. Some were placed in an effort to ward off the plague or more recently, the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s. Some are just there...their reason-to-be lost over the centuries.

I've thought many times about collecting images of these crosses and have always resisted even starting. There are so many that if I stopped for photos of even a few, I'd never arrive at my destination! I think the time has come, though, to start receiving their stories. After all, I'm retired. I'm really not in a hurry to get anywhere, am I?

Friday, April 18, 2014

On the Hunt for Orchids

I spent the morning with Maggie and Sue on the hunt for wild orchids. The ones we found on the alkaline soil of the old quarry site we explored are the earlier blooming varieties. We visited this same place last year around the first of June and found other kinds in bloom. I'm still experimenting with close ups on my new camera and didn't get as many good shots as I'd have liked. Maggie was our expert orchid identifier, but there were a few even she didn't know...
Yellow orchid
Yellow orchid on the left; lady orchid on the right.
The flower below is not an orchid at all, but what Maggie called a Poet's Daffodil...very pretty!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Laury's Wisteria

While Laury's been living and working in the States, I've collected her mail and kept an eye on her garden. I try to catch things blooming and send her a photo or two, so she can see how her flowers look. I know she misses being here to take care of them and enjoy their beauty. She has two wisteria vines along the wall of her front yard. You can see both in this photo.

This one, which I think is wisteria sinensis, has been blooming nicely for several seasons
Although both were planted at the same time, this one (which we have dubbed 'the wild one') never bloomed at all until it put out 2 or 3 flowers last spring. 
This year it's stunning! Its racemes are twice as long as its neighbor's, very dainty and delicate. I believe it's a wisteria floribunda, but don't quote me on that. It's hard to identify varieties from Google images. I sent Laury photos of both yesterday asI'm afraid they will be done blooming by the time she arrives in two weeks. Wish I could have bottled some of their fragrance to send's heavenly.

Friday, April 11, 2014

From the Archives: The American Cathedral

Yesterday a Facebook friend shared a video of an interview with the Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris. I was instantly reminded of my visit there three years ago when I was privileged to worship in this lovely Cathedral. I was warmly welcomed by the largely American congregation, and it was so nice to hear the Episcopal liturgy in English...American English, at that! You don't have to worship there, however, to appreciate the beauty of it. The church is open to visitors during the week from 9am to 5pm and on Sundays from 9am to 1pm. It is closed on Saturdays. On most Sundays, a guided tour is offered after the morning service. In case you missed the Dean's interview on FB, I've included it here.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Not Lovin' the Love Locks

There's a movement afoot to get the love locks on Paris' bridges banned. What began as a charming idea has grown into an ugly and damaging craze, a good idea gone terribly bad. The locks are so heavy that they rip holes in the fencing on the bridges which means the fencing has to be replaced or even worse, boarded over destroying views of the Seine. I took this photo last year when I was in Paris. The shot is through a gaping hole ripped open by the accumulated weight of hundreds of love locks. If you're interested in more information or want to sign the online petition banning love locks to be presented to the Mayor of Paris, you can click here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Art Collector

"Canal a Venise"
Alphonse Lecoz
Life has been a bit hum-drum in my village for the past couple of weeks, so I was delighted when a friend decided to throw a small dinner party last evening. It gave us a chance to do a belated celebration for Christiane's birthday last month and also gave me a chance to photograph our host's new acquisitions. He's become an art collector!

"Vue de Venise"
Alphonse Lecoz
He particularly likes Venice and these two paintings are scenes of that magical city done by Alphonse Lecoz. I like the one above best. The gondolier is almost silhouetted against the robin's-egg blue sky that is then reflected in the water of the canal. It was the first painting that he bought. Which, of course, wasn't enough, so he added this one on the left. "No more," he said. "I'm done"

"Venetian Backwater"
Noel Bouvard
"Yeah, sure," and I was right. Very soon this lovely canal scene joined the other two on the living room wall. "Now, I'm done." To which I replied "Sure you are." Wink, wink.
And right on cue, this painting appeared, hanging on the opposite wall. While it's not Venice, its boat and water theme nicely complements the other three paintings.

He insists he's done. And this time I think he might be right. No more rainy, dreary winter days on the computer looking at online art auctions...and buying beautiful paintings. It's spring, and his attention has turned to his garden. He's done collecting...for now!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Holy Pause

Sometimes it's good to sit, be still, and just listen. I call it a holy pause.