Saturday, October 1, 2016

Running hands on stone




When I think of Provence, does Provence think of me? 

A friend asked a version of that curling question a while back in the comments. I have needed to pose it, inwardly, for necessities sake over and over these past few weeks. And while I am humble enough to know what the only possible answer lying embedded within 2500 years of history could be - a booming God-like "Non" - there are held-tight images glowing strong, still.

I am in Arles and it is the after dinner dog walk. A simple, everyday affair. Ben, Kipling and I are at the Arena but my mind is elsewhere. Unthinkingly, I reach out my hand to the grooves in the columns put into deep relief by the sun, another day done. My eyes flick toward Ben, off-leash and rounding the bend up ahead. Kipling gives a slight tug and continuing on, padding feet quietly with my arm extended, I run my hands across the stone from arch to arch and in so doing touch time without a care. 

This is a memory that I have replayed a hundred times during the past eight months. I don't even know if the moment ever actually existed. It doesn't matter finally. 

As I turn in mind's eye towards those distant crossroads yet again, I try, repeatedly, to explain what hold Provence has on me and this is as close as I can come. I have often leaned on the word "Beauty" - even as an all encompassing filler for when the heart is searching; this blog was named "Lost in Arles" for a reason as I have often said. But there is a deeper sense. "History" nor "Culture" do justice either but rather a nameless sensibility that somehow gathers a yawning insouciant freedom wrestling with the stark shadows of fortified walls (or closed minds), searing heat pushing against a winter Mistral and the possibilities that the Rhône rolls in, brightly reflected with a Van Gogh lilt. 

I can't ever go back to the life that I had as it doesn't exist anymore, I know that now. I accept. 

But what new one awaits for me? And where? Our persona sands off with times passage just like the patina in the stone that I am thinking of today. At least mine does. Cats with nine lives and all that. Yet, there is so much that stands. I tend to forget that part. Do I listen to my heart or my head? Will the words somehow meet in the middle at my throat, allowing me to find the words to speak? 

Fingers reach to touch, to touch...the air and are left grasping. There is a known unknown waiting and it will be just for me.  If Provence ever does think of me, at least it just might admire the willingness, the asking.




 


 












 

 Admittedly, I am especially emotional today. These words were like fishes wriggling through my fingers. There is a very rare Black New Moon tonight and it is a time of planting seeds for the coming six months. And if I don't know what those seeds are? If I have no idea? I am often scared of the blank page awaiting me but tonight I will try to place my trust in the hole where the moon should be.




46 comments:

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Heather darling, no one knows what's coming next for certain. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a relationship with spouse/children/family that will remain steadfast no matter what are blessed. The rest of us ponder what you've said daily. But I think, for me, I have to create my own happiness. It always comes with dogs. There will be people throughout our lifetime journey who come and go, this is normal. Many of us have many romantic, serious relationships, not just one. Find your own way. Don't wait for someone else's validation. And, for most of us following our head is a lot smarter than following our hearts, although I know ALL of us want to follow our hearts. It takes time to mature, to be certain, to know. I'm sending love to you as I always have....

david terry said...

Yes, Heather.....so I see that you did read that quotation from Isak Dineson's (who was scarcely an unsubtle or un-self-scrutinizing woman) "Out of Africa"......beginning with "If I have a song of Africa, does Africa have a song of me?......"

The answer to the question would, of course, be "yes" (or, maybe, "no")......but the manifestations wouldn't at all be what you might imagine or know to wish for.

Dineson (who knew her Marcus Aurelius quite thoroughly) was simply being quite frank and honest in articulating a very basic human longing......to be/have the past AND the present.

This is a lovely post, by the way....and your writing grows better and mo' better.

I spent most of today (and, as you know, we've both been through, basically, the same encounter with betrayal and confusion)going around this large, old place (which today was filled with helpful-men repairing doors and floors and felling at least one 200 year old pecan that was going to come down anyway)....and it occurred to me how utterly lucky I am (as ever)that the trust (comprising friends and concerned family) bought this place out from under Herve.

I and my dogs get to live here for the rest of my/their lives....but I'm just the custodian. I prefer that, actually. It's a lovely, peaceful arrangement (if, I'll admit, after twelve years of marriage, a sometimes plain-out LONELY situation, despite a horde of constantly visiting friends, family, and neighbors....but, still, they all leave by or before 10pm).

And I did get your email, and I will have you down here for a visit. It's particularly lovely here in the winter, given that every room has its own fireplace (gas-powered, thank you....I have no wish to mess with wood and ash-hauling).

Your fan,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Judith Ross said...

Hello Heather, This is an especially powerful post. I have thought of you often and been inspired by your courage as I go through my own big changes. Mine are planned and definitely more joyful, but changes nonetheless. And there has been some sadness in my move as it has become apparent that one friendship will not survive the distance.

But, like you, I know that new and exciting challenges are around the corner. They surely are for you, my friend.

I took a lot of extra time to scroll through the striking details of your photographs and the melancholy came through. But as your reader, it felt to me like a real letting go on your part and a readiness to move on, even as your hand lingers on that stone arch.

I know you have a trip planned for the coming month, which makes this last day of September feel as though you are about to leap into an abyss. There are many hands to catch you. You are so loved.

Joan McKniff said...

A most wonderful piece of writing and healthy, wise reflections.

I want to reply more fully when I have more time. But wanted to reply with these words of praise now.

joan

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

This is a lovely post...very poignant.
I am reading Lizettes List and am in the very early stages of planning a month holiday in Provence with some women friends...we are thinking " Enchanted April"

I hope you do not think me rude...
if I may be so bold do you know of any homes that might be available to rent?

Hope your trip is wonderful in every sense of the word.

Joyce P said...

I am not a frequent commenter, but am a faithful reader. This post is extraordinary, Heather. It caught my heart. Your writing and your photographs are in perfect harmony here. Thank you for this and thank you for the "health" post recently... just what I needed. Thanks, too, for the mention of Ben and Kipling - they're missed. By all, I'm sure.

Heather Robinson said...

I read this out loud to my Mom and Sister tonight. Thank you so much, Marsha.

Heather Robinson said...

David, the question of "where is home" or even "what is home" is a something that another friend asked earlier in the day and was a big part of this post beyond my completely bastardizing Isak Dineson (hopefully her spirit will forgive me as I both love Africa and appreciate Marcus Aurelius). Thank you for asking the good questions and for being a through line when they are so needed. I wish that you did not understand but you do. How grateful I am for you that you do have that home that you love and your art to create in front of you. Nothing but promises and promess. I am also grateful for your compliment as any from you as far as writing is concerned is worth its weight in...something more meaningful than gold ('though I would not turn it away just at present). Yes, the loneliness is very hard. I miss being held by a man in love.

Heather Robinson said...

I am not so certain about the trip, Judith. Or anything just at present. My questions really are that and not rhetorical. But thank you for the reassurance...so much. That leap will happen sooner or later and will be frightening when it does occur. I am grateful beyond belief for my friends here amidst whom you are so dear. We have been through so much and will be through more as your new adventures unfurl...

I am, however, very sorry to learn that you are losing someone. As someone who moved every four years or so growing up, I know how that happens and yet it doesn't hurt any less at our age. It has happened for me during this time too.

I know also that you really look at the photographs (thank you). Those and the rest in Arles were taken on a day about a week before I left and I cried while taking most of them because I did not know if they were goodbye. And I took them for me as a reminder of all of my favorite things just in case. I know that you did just the same before you launched into your new journey. With much Love to you...scratchies to Karina. On we go. To where?

Heather Robinson said...

I take each word from you as a true gift, Joan. I am so incredibly grateful that you are still here with us, such a force to be reckoned with. I haven't forgotten what you said about how your life evolved at 50 and then again in your 60s and then again...xo

Heather Robinson said...

Well, it isn't set yet but thank you very much. April is a tricky time. I will just say that. Anytime before Easter can bring strange weather! But, but...the spring blossoms can be beautiful too. I have one idea for a house but otherwise feel free to email my friend Julie Mautner who is the best pro for these things in the region. http://theprovencepost.blogspot.com/p/let-me-plan-your-trip.html
A month long holiday!!! For once, someone is taking the time to do it right. So excited for you, E. bisous

Heather Robinson said...

By all, Joyce. Did you click on the link where Ben's name is mentioned? There is a good one for Kipling too but I found that particular one for Ben and it both made me laugh, hard and tear up too. I am really appreciative of your kindness, thank you.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

"Life is a balance
between holding on and letting go."
--Rumi
I thought of this quote in reading your post, Heather. I believe that one day your head and your heart will work together and take you back to your beloved Provence. It won't be the one you left, but a bright new one filled with love and opportunities for you. Consider this a 'time out' period in your life and then move forward with confidence and self-assurance that your future is bright and of your own making! xxxx

Unknown said...

Beautiful post Heather. You really sound stronger....that wonderful brave part of us that sometimes can....fake it till we make it.....It is very necessary to put that one foot in front of the other to keep going.
You have a huge cheering section.

Bisou
Ali

Katherine said...

This is exquisitely beautiful, Heather. Thank you.

Maria Anagnostopoulou said...

Such a strong and open hearted post Heather! I felt anguish about your return to Provence but I think that this period back home made you stronger. These last years I learnt that love is stronger than happiness. I wish you to find both. Kisses

Maria Anagnostopoulou said...

I reread your post and understood that you are not in Arles. I hope you are going and it is not a definitive "no".

Jan said...

You love Arles and Provence. That will endure, even though you cannot return to your old life. It's hard to start again, but all your readers are here, willing you on. I wish you joy.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Heather ~ This post was very touching for me. I lost my dear husband after 43 years of marriage 46 months ago, when we went to his heavenly home. Life changed drastically, just as yours has. I am a different person. It is a daily growing process. God has been and is my strength. I try to see the beauty and good in each and every day. Try to learn something new regularly and enjoy life.

Your photographs and words touch hearts. Thank you. You are a strong, beautiful woman and you inspire me.

Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

Taste of France said...

A beautiful post, Heather, with beautiful images. I am sure there are more than a few people in Arles who wonder where the nice American lady with the dogs went. But as for the stones? They don't care in Arles or anywhere. Missing Provence--however painful it is--is good. It is proof that there were good times, that you learned and grew and appreciated it. Can you imagine not missing it? It would mean that it was awful, without any redeeming quality. Now you are learning, growing and appreciating in a different way. I think that years from now you will look back at this time when you are spreading your wings and preparing to fly again and you will think of it fondly.
I sometimes miss NYC so badly, but I know deep down that while it was great in my 30s, it no longer would suit my lifestyle (I don't go out dancing all night anymore) nor, above all, my budget. I can go back for visits, see some old haunts that have managed to survive, and think wistfully about the place. But it isn't for me anymore.
New chapters are exciting.

Judi of Little House said...

I am embraced by your post today. For some reason, maybe it's the permanence of the stone, when my floor has fallen out from underneath me. I need to touch those stones to know I'm safe again. Your writing is just so beautiful of how it tells me even more of you. And, I want to be friends with all your reader friends as they, too, are wonderful in all that they have given you, in how they support you. You are blessed in many ways, even though I do know the journey is hard, sometimes beyond belief. When it's time you will touch the stones of Provence and feel their warmth! Bisous, mon amie!

Bill Facker said...

Look at all the wonderful people who support and identify with you, Rocket, and smile .. smile today, smile tomorrow, smile yourself all the way to newly awaiting wonders .. wherever they may be.

RebeccaNYC said...

oh I remember that time when I did not know where home was anymore...and how homesick I was. I recognize that pain (a little too clearly, perhaps) and my heart goes out to you. Mixed in with that pain were glimpses of hope and possibility, and I hope those glimpses are there for you, too. much love always...

Trudye said...

You heart sounds resonate throughout this beautiful post! Your heartbeat is strong, remember that!
Hoping you planted a bushel of seeds of hope for the upcoming months, Heather.
What a beautiful embrace this post and comments have been. Sending one of warmth and gratitude in return!
xx

Anonymous said...

Oh Heather, how I wish you could run your hands over provence stone and the softness of your fur babies again. My heart weeps for you. Suzana

edgar said...

. Blaze a new path, new life, new discovery.The horizon is bright.

helen tilston said...

Hello Heather,
I admire your strength, perseverance, hope and enthusiasm ."Fortitudine Vincimus"

You have accomplished so much this past year.I have been praying for you and asking for strength and for the perfect work opportunity to present itself to you.

Fondest wishes always
Helen xx

Joyce P said...

I did, Heather. I'd read those posts before, but the re-reading was no less sweet. Wishing you strength, grace and courage as you move forward in life.

Silke B said...

Heather, Provence is in you, so you belong to Provence, wether you are there or not.

And when I think of Provence I think about you. That is know forever connected.

Because of photos like the one of the little shutterholder on image 13 you made Provence, that I knew differently before I knew you and your wonderful blog, a treaseure chest.

A treasure you have created. Un oevre de grand envergure.

But your challenges are different now. And I think thats good. Even if it does not seem like it now. You'll see clearer soon.

The old stones are wonderful but nature, the whole universe is much older and you are surrounded by it and you belong to it. Everywhere. Don't forget that. :-)

Other places may already be waiting eagerly to be filled with your love, Heather. Provence got plenty of it.

I'm happy to see so many wise and nice comments here for you. Take them all in.

Thank you also for your great last post. As you know I couldn't comment for some time. That post showed that you already are on your way to new horizons.

I send you Strength for the decision that you have to make these days.

Gros bisous, Silke

Heather Robinson said...

Jackie, I love that Rumi quote and it is one that has followed me around quite a bit during these past eight months, showing up often unexpectedly. But to be open and optimistic...yes, thank you again.

Heather Robinson said...

I am so incredibly grateful, Ali. Can you imagine what that might mean to me to have one?

Heather Robinson said...

Merci, ma chère copine. :)

Heather Robinson said...

You are wonderful, Maria. I will know soon and I feel really lucky to have such support either way. Thank you so much for your wishes, I need them! xo

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you so much, Jan. I am very humbled, as always, by all of the kindness here.

Heather Robinson said...

Lorraine, your words here make me cry every time that I read them. You inspire me. I can't really find the proper words to respond so I hope that you will forgive me, save that I hope that you will accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your husband. I know well all the love that you have in you through your beautiful words here and so can only begin to imagine the love that you have shared. I am deeply honored that you would consider my situation to be similar to yours. The love that I gave to Remi, I gave with all of my heart, so perhaps in that sense, it was close? Thank goodness for the beauty that we have to see to remind us of who we are.

Heather Robinson said...

I can not imagine every thinking of this time fondly, Catherine. It has been the hardest so far of my life. But perhaps I will end up being grateful for it. Actually, I already am in most ways. And yes, I miss NYC but know that it was best from age 17-32 for the same reasons...

Heather Robinson said...

You are so lovely, Judi. After all that you have been through, to be so loving and open. Thank you. And I can tell you that there is not a day that goes by where I do not thank my lucky stars for all of my good friends like yourself that I just have not had the chance to meet...yet. You have helped me through this. You know that. Bisous à toi.

Heather Robinson said...

Wonderful people like yourself, Bill. Much Mahalo always and extreme gratitude for the perspective and pushes towards the positive that are so needed. Hoping you see the wonders on your doorstep too.

Heather Robinson said...

You know, lovely Rebecca, it has been a challenge to see the hope and possibility when all is so uncertain and yet I have so much. I just don't know where it will all roll out but I still have my health and the possibility to work plus family and numerous friends to support me. So I know how lucky I really am.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you, my dear friend, I am so grateful for you. My heartbeat is strong. And so is yours. It makes me smile to know I am only one of many that you have helped through your kindness.

Heather Robinson said...

Perhaps soon, Suzana? Thank you for the love given from your heart.

Heather Robinson said...

I can go back a bit, Edgar but I do not wish to go back to the bottom of where I was, ever, if I can avoid it. And I wish to try.

Heather Robinson said...

I am so moved by and grateful for your prayers. And yes, I am worried about work...it is time now. I hope to find my way back to the land of the working, living and loving soon.

With wishes of continued creativity and joy to you, Heather

Heather Robinson said...

My goodness, this too brought tears to my eyes. Silke. I will think about all that you said as I always do. None of your words are ever wasted on me. I am taking it all in but also am fighting to keep an open mind and heart completely. I have no idea what the future holds but that also has to mean that it can't all be bad always, can it? Of course, you did not suggest that but I need to know that for myself whereve I go. That and the strong lesson that I have learned that nothing is permanent no matter how we wish it so...and that means the bad luck too. Trying...
Sending you Strength right back. xo

La Petite Gallery said...

I feel that way about Maine.
Boy! if only those ancient buildings could Talk,
what wonders we would hear. Venice gave me Da jeveiu.
yvonne

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Heather,

I have been hoping and praying for you that the "new" you who is stronger, and healthier can go back to the place where your heart is. Even if it is only to say goodbye. My hear breaks that you cannot be with your fur babies, I am sure that they miss you.

I hope that whatever it is that your hope, pray and wish for presents itself to you as a new opportunity and new life. They say we can never go back, that is true and frankly who would want to, but the fact is you would be beginning anew not going back. If Provence is your dream, NEVER EVER GIVE UP ON IT!

Have a good weekend. xo Elizabeth