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Thursday, July 24, 2014

puttering

So today promises a total delight of a day: Matthew is here, with his son Theodore, and they are doing that most wonderful of things: puttering. We just defined it at breakfast (just JUST enough baguette with grains and a bit of Festival which is local baguette that has won lots of honors, to go around for us four, with honeys and confiture with " fruits rouges" and so on), then to the local pizzeria at the bottom of the hill for lunch: La Farigoule , very thin crust kine, then preparing salmon mousse and lambBoyce makes with all sorts of things in a mold, and so on, for our drink party tomorrow night, about 28 or 29 by my count, some children, all our really good friends in nearabout places, with their visiting families, and luckly, our field is immense, can't see any other property from here, so people can just take a glass of pink or white and wander, and Matthew is in charge of wine and Theodore can  pass plates and that is about it.
Tonight Alexander Swan, Malcolm and Janet's son with a beautiful voice, is giving a concert in nearby Bedoin, and their truly lovely daughter Lucy and her children will come as well almost everyone we ever met here, then of course  a glass after with the musicians, then we will have our little fish in the shape of fish we get once a week, onTuesdays, in our local tiny market of Mormoiron, same day you can get the roasted on a spit chicken... on Sundays in the big market, where producers come from all over the Vaucluse, we get our Salers, tat wonderful cheese with its ctust you have to eat, and our raw ham, if that's the word for this delicacy, sliced thin, i won't go on about it, but will serve some tomrrow night, iguess you roll it and put it on toothpicks... ah, life in the Vaucluse summers.
For Matthew's birthday, Aug. 5, we will go to Les Florets, a lovely outside restaurant at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, those toothy-lacy hills Matthew and Theodore went up last year -- and hope to every year. I first read Faulkner there, way up in a hollow in the hills, because Rene Char said the Pythie would speak to me there...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

When it pours

When you live in a cabanon and the weather starts its thing, after you turn over over all the chairs, if you can, you then grab the cloths from every table, the books if you were reading something, and thank your lucky whatever if you can find a place to place yourself inside -- although of course, you prefer always to be OUTSIDE. Yesterday a wonderful winding trip to Gordes and then to neighbors, and today, after the rain, the outside market and dinner iwht our friends up the hill, and tomorrow, the wonderful artist-poet Ruth Middleton to lunch, and our translator writer friends Anne Reynes and her husband Philippe and then Matthew and Theodore arrive, and so goes the week. After the rain, that is. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

French time

Incidents that make up life here in the cabanon.
Many friends coming to lunch-- first a glass of white (luckily, we had just gotten three bottles of Cassis at Leclerc--everyone's major shopping endeavouring place) upstairs in the field to see the sun on the  trees and get used to each other, then down around the other long table under the canopy (wearing out and will change it next summer)
Moment of Big Panic: forgot the bread and it is  12 and everything closes at 12 until 3...
But the WONDERFUL Carmona boulangerie  at thebottom ofthe hill closes at 1so  i phone and say please give my husband a baguette and a boule, and he does  and we have a joyful time.
Doesn't sound dramatic but at six when others go away it is all gratefulness...dm

Small things make up real life.
Tomorrow to Gordes, all those houses carved into the hill by the bories to see Maryse Conde snd Richard Philcox and back to drink with some winemaking neighbors and so on. Happiness.







Saturday, July 12, 2014

reviewing for guardian

Incidents that make up life here in the cabanon.
Many friends coming to lunch-- first a glass of white (luckily, we had just gotten three bottles of Cassis at Leclerc--everyone's major shopping endeavouring place) upstairs in the field to see the sun on the  trees and get used to each other, then down around the other long table under the canopy (wearing out and will change it next summer)
Moment of Big Panic: forgot the bread and it is  12 and everything closes at 12 until 3...
But the WONDERFUL Carmona boulangerie  at thebottom ofthe hill closes at 1so  i phone and say please give my husband a baguette and a boule, and he does  and we have a joyful time.
Doesn't sound dramatic but at six when others go away it is all gratefulness...dm

Small things make up real life.
Tomorrow to Gordes, all those houses carved into the hill by the bories to see Maryse Conde snd Richard Philcox and back to drink with some winemaking neighbors and so on. Happiness.







Wind and the Ventoux

So when it blows here, iin the field outside my cabanon, or on the road (where I don't drive, given my history of narcolepsy and my three last accidents) or at the table, some of us just say: wait until it dies down, or sinks, or stops, whatever seems to wish it to go away.
Last night we had supper with friends at La Ballade des Saveurs, in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, where I used to spend my Januarys, when I was working with Rene Char, and translating his poetry and essays. I would go up the Route de Saumane on my motorbike -- no, not a motorcycle, just a putt-putt -- anyway, I loved it. Ah, you work with the poet Rene Char, would say the hotel-keeper (small hotels in those days, and friendly to foreigners like me, impassioned as I was -- and am-- by the language and the literature), C'est un pur. Pure in the sense of unconteaminated by society and commerce and the other things he so despised.
Anyway, we were there, almost blown off the tiny sidewalks by the gusts -- Boyce, being very very thin, might be knocked over at any moment, so Iworry. The meal was so-so, my fish, a bar, rather tough for a steamed fish, was poised on some sweet something, perhaps turnips, but it felt like sweet potatoes. I won't go on, because we had loved it  the first time,, with Christopher and Mette Macrae, two of our oldest friends here, by the Sorgue, with the ducks and the narrow boats passing by under the bridges and near the meeting of the waters.
We used to go to the Pescador, a restaurant by the "sharing" or Partage des eaux, right off the main street,  as a family, and I used to go there, as a nostalgci move, with Alice Mauron, the widow of Charles Mauron, the translator of E.M. Forster, and T.E. Lawrence, and others, even of Virginia Woolf -- so i had writtten on him and his translations for our Virginia Woolf in Europe, an exhaustingly big book, published by Continuum a few years back. Alice would always bring her Opinel, a large bladed one, to cut the meat with. I loved her, and enjoyed her caustic sense of humour.
Well, the wind might rasie up one's sense of humour! or cause it to sink....
AND I AM INDEED WRITING A BOOK ON BLAISE PASCAL, who has haunted me ever since graduate school. It will be with Reaktion Press, for whom I have done a Salvador Dali, a Pablo Picasso, a Motherwell with Pen and Brush, and a Modern Art Cookbook: in short, I like publishing with them.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

cabanon living

So it takes loving or at least liking the informality, sort of primitive delight in taking 2 hours to do something you have 14 and 1/2 minutes for in New York... Really, taking out one chair or two to the field with the dandelions knewwhigh and the trees swaying in the mistral, under the overhanging clouds, and grinning foolishly at the sparse sun, or making your way down the narrow passage and the still-too-tall stone steps so labriously put there so many years ago by some cousins. Treading delightedly on the flagstones brought over from Rene Char's all those times back, in our 2CV -- it was the yellow one, I think -- so that we would, as he said, "build our house on poetry." That we did, and still do. 

summers in provence

(for the Oxford Gazette, adding to the News from New York column by Mary Ann Caws)

Summering Reflections from Provence

As well as the old music and new music festivals in the medieval perched villages of Provence, like Oppède-le-Vieux  --- two grand pianos were flown in to the church once for a particular occasion – and the Mozart and Handel celebrations in our nearby town of Carpentras, there are always gallery openings notable for their chic simplicity.

Afterwards, you might want to have a bite of supper in one of the restaurants by the river at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – it always feels, to some of us, because of its poet René Char,  like the arts center of the region. You could go to the traditional Pescador, at the “partage des eaux,” where the waters meet – or then one of the bistros on the island of L’Isle, surrounded by the old-timey lights, or perhaps, if you’re lucky, a few boats with jousting young men trying to push each other off the boats with a long pole—or just a guitarist or accordionist going by under the bridge. Across the river, the water wheel keeps turning with its long dripping fronds of green.

On July 5, in the high-in-the-Lubéron village of Ménerbes – famous for inhabitants like Nicolas de Stael and the onetime mistress of Picasso, Dora Maar – there was a small and splendid exhibition of the quite remarkable landscapes of the British artist Philip Hughes: “Les Vallées de Ménerbes de 1974-2014”. These gouaches, pastels, watercolors, and acrylics,  are distinctive by their sharp lines and patterns – as if seen from an airplane – reminiscent of the striped, terraced, pale-colored beauties of the Scot Charles Rennie Macintosh, who left Glasgow and his instantly recognizable architectural constructions for the South of France: Port-Vendres, next to the more-than-memorable village of Collioure, the “city of Artists,” marking the start of the “path of the Fauves” like Derain, Dufy, and Matisse, where the old restaurant-hotel Les Templiers was the hangout of Picasso and the others for the cuisine of the chef Pous, whose son Jojo kept up the flavor of the place for years.

Macintosh (“Toshie” to his adepts) was fond neither of the painters of Collioure nor of the inhabitants of Port-Vendres. But the place he loved, and walking there – memorialized by a path with reproductions of his paintings in the spots they had been painted (“On the Trail of Monsieur Macintosh”), just as in Collioure the reproductions of Derain and Matisse mark the way of the Fauve path in 1905. Macintosh asked for his ashes to be cast into the sea near that so loved village, and his partner and widow, Margaret Maconald, did just that..

The watercolors and gouaches and acrylics of Hughes have nothing melancholy or misanthropic about them – from the larger landscapes of Ménerbes countryside seen from Dora Maar’s garden, with their written inscriptions, like diary notes, through the medium-sized works with the boulders pressing against the mountains – what an architecturally-sensitive mind has the painter! – to the small and perfectly-patterned watercolors, they exude a kind of happiness like a walking trail of nonchalant beauty. They reminded me this time of Macintosh’s path through Port-Vendres – how a stroll can animate a canvas or a paper, or, indeed, a life.

Outside the gallery of Pascal Lainé, half-way up a road with an old stone wall against which informally and elegantly dressed locals and visitors were leaning with a glass of wine and a relaxed chatter, you felt that this was the Provence of always, in its relaxed and summering finery, at its best .