January 9, 2017
No wind, a little sun and some cloud and low tide so the beach is revealed offering a large expanse for strolling, digging for lug worms, bird watching and play in the pools – the gulls and oystercatchers are busy too.
This landscape in the foreground and the distance is etched in man-made lines but, close to, the organic forms of nature can be discovered. Crambe maritima throwing up pink bulbous shoots already . . .
. . . sand particles, clays and rocks with smooth rounded surfaces make small individual landscapes within the larger landscape and always changing amongst the constant of the lines of groynes – some hundreds of years old and some highly decorated by the tides.
Signs of peat extraction – methodically cut in parallel lines – and the dark, almost black, slippery ground surface of the petrified forest that stretches elegantly into the sea, show again how man interrupts nature. Nature’s lines are altogether more beautiful.
Turning to the west from the path along the sea defense, reveals a different vision of quietude – the brow of the ridge running from Winchelsea along Wickham Rock Lane with Icklesham beyond.
And the poem, it describes me or as I feel within my self.
There is particular music
Hunted for, dug up
Near airy, planet-spaces,
Or on the cold, sure lip
Of a cliff that will not take
The climb of a white break
But only permit a foam
Rising. So I make
A music out of places
Watched on careful nights,
Not circumscribed, no view
Caught in the camera-mind
To be developed later.
Words are music to find
In the places the colder, the better.
But I have needed South
And its unambiguous sun,
Its haze and fire on the breath.
Since childhood I’ve been one
Never at ease at home
Creating out of shame
Measured happiness. Elizabeth Jennings Particular Music
January 4, 2017
The Wednesday morning market in Place aux Herbes in Uzès displays many produits du terroirs, regional products and specialties. It’s a more compact affair, so easier to negotiate and altogether a more satisfying experience than the Saurday jamboree. Now, in winter, the architecture lining the narrow emptier streets is also easier to appreciate – stand back, look up and admire.
Look across, breathe in and admire here too, south of the town, in the Gorges du Gardon. Ferula stems of last year’s plants still stand tall although brittle and with a feeling of just about hanging on . . .
. . . the Gard flowing from the west into a horse shoe curve and then bending out again to the east and on under Pont du Gard until it slips into the Rhone, I’ve posted about about this much loved walk previously . . . .
. . . the winter sun highlights details like the dried fruits on the elder and the new growth of ferula . . .
From this panorama point le point de vue des castellas, a man made cave is visible used by the rock climbers who hang disjointedly like Looby Loo all along the south facing aspect.
The interior of the cave required a figure for purposes of scale but the view from this point was safer sans figure.
Neraby at the Galerie Marina, glimpses of the countryside still in skeletal mode . . .
. . . and inside with Robert Lobet and inspirational work.
You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather
an asset – that in view of the fact that spirit creates form
we are justified in supposing
that you must have brains. For you, a symbol of the
unit, stiff and sharp,
conscious of surpassing by dint of native superiority and
liking for everything
self-dependent, anything an
ambitious civilization might produce: for you, unaided, to
attempt through sheer
reserve, to confuse presumptions resulting from
observation, is idle. You cannot make us
think you a delightful happen-so. But rose, if you are
is not because your petals are the without-which-nothing
of pre-eminence. Would you not, minus
thorns, be a what-is-this, a mere
perculiarity? They are not proof against a worm, the
elements, or mildew;
but what about the predatory hand? What is brilliance
without co-ordination? Guarding the
infinitesimal pieces of your mind, compelling audience to
the remark that it is better to be forgotten than to be re-
membered too violently,
your thorns are the best part of you. Marianne Moore Roses Only
October 11, 2016
a post with few humans – a couple of tourists and some carved in stone – it’s easier for me to engage with this landscape as such. At Pont du Gard, in the terrain around the landmark, those maintaining the landscape show good skills – using just enough management. The olives in this grove have a balletic quality – a certain strength underlying a lightness of form . . .
. . . equally, the dry stone walling is rhythmic in contrast to the static character of the remnants of this ancient aqueduct that carried water from Uzés to Nimes. Some is very fragile awaiting restoration, perhaps . . .
. . . a sprinkling of chêne vert left to edge the informal track leading down to the first dramatic glimpse. Nothing could be more powerful and appropriate.
Masterful engineering – perfection in the detail of the construction – a simple and beautiful junction of stonework.
At the Monastère, ‘the antechamber to heaven’ but also close to home, the small church is receiving attention – completion of the interior next year perhaps – with the facade finished and decorated with a frieze of ‘Eric Gill’ style carving.
Eclectic architectural details which somehow work spread around the entrance, the spacious courtyard which I was to shy to photograph, the chapel and the nuns gathering room – they’ve employed a sensitive architect. Also, stupidly, I didn’t pluck up the courage to ask to see the productive gardens – all that convent schooling still affects me badly . . .
. . . but here at the quarry at Vallabrix, no hestation on pushing through fencing and security bondaries to get as close as possible. This sand is used to manufacture Perrier bottles – so much better to drink water from glass than plastic . . . and it’s a stunning landscape to behold and walk around although the locals are not so keen on the noise and night time working. Two poems for this post, Attwood and Paz, what can I say . . .
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round. Margaret Atwood
Between now and now,
between I am and you are,
the word bridge.
you enter yourself:
the world connects
and closes like a ring.
From one bank to another,
there is always
a body stretched:
I’ll sleep beneath its arches. Octavio Paz
July 10, 2016
Personal; intriguing; nourishing; an oasis; a pleasure garden; inward and outward and upward looking; et al. Just a quick mind map to test out feelings of the time here in Sambucs and there are of course some elders as the title of the garden suggests . . .
. . . narrow paths run across the terraced land leading to areas, some intimate for lounging and the odd larger space for eating, through varied vegetation interlaced with sculptural features; some discreet . . .
. . . and some functional constructed from smooth river stones.
Many pools alongside the dry stone walls holding the changes in level provide habitats for dragon flies, frogs and snails.
Poetry, inscriptions and selective writings are part of the experience. Above is the classic comment: ‘you should have been here two weeks ago, the garden looked so much better then’.
Zinc panels here in la Porte des Étoiles, display selected inspirational thoughts from Gilles Clément from le Jardin en Mouvement. Apposite for this garden that is managed on ecological systems and also retains an unmanicured look which in turn relays a welcome sense of freedom. Heaps of composted spent garden waste sit naturally at path junctions.
This impressive static cairn stands proud against the open extent of the south facing boundary. . . .
. . . while glittering stipa shimmers against a darker background in a more enclosed area . . .
. . . lythrum, indigenous to the ditches here in Hérault, provide some flower colour. I was hoping for more colour but in truth, I should have planned an earlier visit. Next year a return in May perhaps and then better photos? Lovely garden Nicholas and Agnès and tasty lunch too.
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-
and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
Rainer Maria Rilke A Walk Poem
May 23, 2016
a short visit to friends just south of Florence. vineyard and olive groves spread across their property retained in practical flat ribbons – some grass mown and some left long with decorative results . . .
. . . old olives are retained if they are single stem but those from the bad frost some years ago are being removed and replaced with fresh young plants.
Around the buildings, the owners prefer to leave the fluffy growth on the canopy. Pleasing contrasting textures in this composition . . .
. . . and also on the cork oak.
In Pienza, narrow views out to the wonderful countryside even on a cold and cloudy May day. Who gave these streets such pretty names?
Many years ago we designed this pool garden within what once was a walled kitchen garden. Simple, clean lines, reflections, peaceful – what more to say? only that these friends understand importance of good management; many clients do not.
The love of the place and the people who inhabit it – this is the reason behind the choice of the poem.
The tumult in the heart
keeps asking questions.
And then it stops and undertakes to answer
in the same tone of voice.
No one could tell the difference.
Uninnocent, these conversations start,
and then engage the senses,
only half-meaning to.
And then there is no choice,
and then there is no sense;
until a name
and all its connotation are the same. Elizabeth Bishop
March 12, 2016
A jaunt out above the gorges to see if the new seedling growth of the ferula is showing and, yes, frothy and fresh in tone, carpeting the ground around the forebears which are still strong but wonderfully light to hold as the stems are hollow now . . .
. . . young ferula growth here mixed in with low, lime green euphorbia, but the taller Euphorbia wulfenii also claims attention. A black-eyed form and perhaps crossed with others to form E. x martini . . .
. . . Iris pumila – in papal cloth and in soft yellow – stop me in my tracks, not only to admire visually but, also to avoid squashing them where they sprout through the stony path.
By le Castellas and at Table de Lecture de Paysage, the view forces the eyes to lift up away from studying up from studying the minutiae on the ground to this tableau – the river Gard flowing in a cup shaped curve; a quite splendid panorama . . .
. . . as it enters from the west beyond Russan and beyond Anduze . . .
. . . and as it moves to the east flow under Pont Saint – Nicolas and then under Pont du Gard before entering the Rhone. Some folks do other physical and challenging pursuits here but I just gaze.
How the tiny narcissus occupy this terrain and how enjoyable they are . . . so it’s eyes down again and especially when the path becomes a solid sponge like form of limestone. Perhaps it’s more like walking on a giant food grater.
Then again the view demands attention. Pont Saint-Nicolas and surroundings can only be enjoyed from this high aspect – there is nowhere to park nearby – hurrah.
Back in Vic, Commune de Ste Anastasie, grave stones neatly placed on the church wall face a flowering Rosa banksiae – my first this year on March 4th- and a wall hosting Umbilicus rapestris – great texture contrasts.
The poem reads like an old song or fairy tale to me – but no claim is made on this landscape but just simple grateful appreciation.
walking by the waters
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow, watchful circle,
as if I were a superstition;
or the worst dregs of her imagination,
so when she finally spoke
her words spliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
‘Here,’ I said, ‘Here. These parts.’ Jackie Kay In My Country
January 14, 2016
After seemingly interminable rain, hallelujah a bright day dawns – of course chilly and crisp and more than refreshing; but appetising nonetheless. The beach at Pett Level is hidden from the road by the sea wall so the view across the Military Canal to the rising land has no competition. Visually superb from a distance and also excellent at close quarters for those strolling through.
Over the sea wall, a different and equally pleasing landscape is laid out. The tide is coming in as the sun strikes short shadows and highlights the textures of the beach stones . . .
. . . sandstones of varying size contrast with finer shingle and the smooth islands of dark peat. An ancient forest lies below the water and can be seen occasionally below Cliff End revealing timber with a soft spongy texture as against the also exposed rigidly hard wood used in the old sea defences The rhythm of the tide has left an elegant and informal wandering edge as though Poseidon has run a finger along the coastline . . .
Small waders leave their mark – turnstones and oyster catchers perhaps – searching for delicacies and holding their own among the herring gulls.
Nothing has been ‘done’ to these pix . . . clouds arrive and the sky to the east wears a dark violet cloak now . . .
. . . but remains clearer to the west with a freezing wind which meant power walking back to the sheltered lower level and a favourite view across the marsh inhabited by coots and curlews and the odd cormorant – and the sheep of course. Edward Thomas, my father’s favourite poet assisting here on a special day. January 14th 1910
Out of us all
That make rhymes
Will you choose
As the winds use
A crack in a wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through –
You English words?
I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, –
As our hills are, old, –
Again and again:
Young as our streams
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.
Make me content
With some sweetness
Have no wings, –
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire, –
And the villages there, –
From the names, and the things
Let me sometimes dance
Or stand perchance
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do. Edward Thomas Words