Halcyon days

If you could

would you have halcyon days roll on forever …

halycon days

If they were here and now

would you surrender to their warmth?

Cast off the boat

and float.

Face up in the turquoise.

Not a single thought of returning to shore.

halcyon days 2

The magic is in the fleeting.

The fading.

The rose wash of missingness that time adds to the canvas.

That bright burst of what was.

halcyon skies

And the gentle melancholy

 

left wondering …

 

will it ever be again?

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    If Nicole de Vésian were to meet Edna Walling in our front garden …

    I stumbled upon pictures of Nicole de Vésian’s Provencal garden La Louve a year or two ago and have been obsessed with her ever since.

    When Monty Don featured her garden in his French Gardens series, well that sealed the deal.

    Nicole’s garden is extraordinary to me on a number of fronts, first and foremost because she started it in her 70’s.

    Having worked as a successful fashion designer in New York and Paris, La Louve was her final creation. It sits on the edge of Bonnieux, not far from Menerbes, made famous by Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence.

    I bought Louisa Jones’ Modern Design in Provence (a tribute to La Louve), read it from cover to cover and have been trying to replicate little corners of the garden in Nicole’s style. I love her restrained colour palette. Green upon green. Greys upon greys. Plants heavily clipped sitting alongside others left to grow wild. The hills of Provence a beautiful backdrop for an afternoon drink. I can only imagine the scent. And that afternoon light.

    Sigh …

    la louvela louve

    I’ve also been revisiting The Vision of Edna Wallinga book I’ve had for many years that showcases the surviving watercolour plans of this legendary Australian landscape designer. Reading it again, it strikes me that if Walling was alive today she would be a popular blogger, just as she was a popular gardening writer throughout her career, often sharing stories about her own garden. Very personal and very accessible to her readers.

    Unless anyone can show me something better, I think Walling’s watercolour plans are in a league of their own. “Undeniably beautiful” as authors Trisha Dixon and Jennie Churchill state in the preface to the book. If you’re not familiar with her work and you’re interested in gardening do some investigating.

    edna walling watercolour

    A few months ago we discovered that a Japanese Sacred Bamboo in our little front garden had wreaked havoc in our verandah foundations. Meanwhile our low brick front fence had developed serious cracks, so much so that we could have felled it with a single push.

    One thing has led to another. Monty led me to Nicole. Nicole to Edna. Edna to my Windsor and Newton watercolours.

    The front fence has been removed. The verandah is a pile of concrete rubble. The Ginnala maple is stark naked but there are tiny green signs of life. We have raided a friend’s English box hedge plantation and have planted what will, in time, be a curved hedge dropping gently in height. There are a range of Australian natives mixed with French lavender, santolina and Provencal thyme.

    It doesn’t look very wonderful at the moment.

    It is not Provence.

    But I can see it.

    In my mind’s eye …

    marg's watercolour in the style of Edna Walling

    Can you?

    You might enjoy these final lines from Edna Walling’s book.

    Walling was in the forefront of the modern conservation movement. A quote from The Australian Roadside encapsulates her passion for the flora of her adopted country and its conservation. “Men show their greatness more by circumnavigating flowers and mosses then they do by sailing over them with bulldozers.”

    I love that. Especially as I watch Steve mowing paths around the lawn daisies as we speak. x

    Do you have your own gardening heroes? Or dreams …

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      of Sunday mornings, gentle goals and little dreams …

      The frost is thick on the ground, the sky is blue and clear.

      The house is mine alone this Sunday morning so I am languishing in bed, propped up with pillows, enjoying the stillness, thinking it’s been a while.

      A poached egg, fresh toast from Legall’s and a little avocado.

      Polly is nosing in for a pat. Yes I love you too.

      What a year this has been. Is it just me? Working in a business where everything is moving so fast, feeling the pressure to stay on top of things, to change things up, to ‘follow my passions’.

      I did eight weeks of BSchool in autumn and it fuelled the fire. Don’t get me wrong, there was lots of good juice, especially for my clients, but it was very noisy. People climbing over themselves to be seen and heard online. 12,000 of them in the Facebook group. I’ve never been good in crowds. Like many of those courses and self help type books you’ll take away just a few gems and that’s OK. But I’m happy to shut the door on that one for a while. You can’t be creative in an environment like that.

      It’s made me question again (I know) the role of social media in our lives and as I mentioned last post it’s something I want to talk about with social researcher aka wise owl, Hugh Mackay. I’ve finished reading his book The Good Life and I took away more than just a few gems. It was quiet. And good soul food. And it reminded me how intensely more satisfying it is to drown in a good book than bob about like a cork on social media. With a book you are down below the waves and the noise and the foam, in that exquisite womb of silence, utterly in the moment. Tim Winton territory. Senses alive. Every one of them alert and open.

      Warm toes. Soft sheets. A second cup of tea. I am so very lucky.

      I have also been continuing the fitness journey which has taken me away from the computer too. Four weeks in with the personal training I pinged a tendon at the base of my spine and that put me back a few weeks. If it had been left to me I would have called it quits but having made the commitment with the trainer we found a gentler path through it all and I am out the other side.

      And over the past eight weeks I have learnt something.

      I have learnt that I am more inclined to exercise if I have a purpose and I set myself some gentle goals. For instance, two kilometres on the bike in 8.07 minutes. Next time aim for under 8. Next time a little less. Walking the Mount with the girls I am the resident chain dragger on the hills. When I first started I’d have to stop three or four times on the climbs to catch my breath. But yesterday I walked it with no breaks. Little. Personal. Gentle goals. Trust me if I can do it, you can too. We are stronger than we think.

      Hello Polly. Yes we’ll go for a walk soon.

      There is so much I need and want to learn with work. I need to get a better understanding of html and css. I want to learn Lightroom. And I want to swap across from Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere for video editing. Mountains. Always more mountains. But one at a time.

      Gently.

      Go gently …

      We are losing a friend. And I have been reluctant to visit because I am not of her inner circle and I can’t help but feel that’s who you would want around you in your last days. Cut down way too young with acute myeloid leukaemia. So brave and positive throughout these wickedly fast few months. I had a call from another friend who had been to the hospital last night and said it might be a good time to visit. Quiet. Just she and her partner. They were planning to be married in September. Big dreams. Little dreams. They can come in all shapes and sizes. What my friend would give just to be sitting in bed with a poached egg, fresh toast from Legalls and a little avocado. How I wish things were different…

      Sunday mornings,

      gentle goals,

      and little dreams…

      I am so very grateful, this cold clear morning, for them all.

      And with that she decided to treat herself to a third cup of tea because it just felt so damned lovely to be able to stop for a while. But there was a very patient dog lying quietly at her doorway with its head on its paws, eyeballing her, poised to pounce at the first sign of movement. Perhaps no mountains today Pol. Let’s just stroll the river.

       

      late evening walks

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