Wednesday, May 25, 2011

following the heart

 I think one of the best things about being on vacation is the space it allows for your heart, for your senses.  Wherever your heart pulls you, you go.  There’s nothing to hold you back. Yesterday after painting all morning, I walked to the village to get some bread.  Before I got to the market, I heard organ music, and followed the sound into St. Malo’s cathedral.  The organist was practicing, and the notes echoed around the soaring stone arches of the ceiling and against the tall, old walls.  And bending my neck back trying to drink it all up, I remembered when I worked for the Orange Review and how one day the photographer had showed me his living room, which had just been remodeled to have a mock cathedral ceiling… I remember it was raised a little with recessed lighting and the walls were all white… and it looked a little bit like we were in the middle of a low-budget stage set for a space ship.  The photographer told me that he wasn’t sure if it had been worth it to do, because it had been so expensive, and that he would be in debt for it for a long time, but that he hoped it had made his wife happy. 

In the market, I bought half a chocolate cake, orange zest-chocolate financiers, 2 pears, bread, and a Neufchatel cheese shaped like a heart.  There are writings about Neufchatel that date to the year 1035, and in the Middle Ages, girls would offer the cheese in the form of a heart to someone they had a crush on.  But the cheese wasn’t discovered by Parisians until the beginning of the 19th century!

the neufchatel

On the way home, there was a harpist playing in the road.  I was going to keep walking because street musicians make me sort of nervous, but it was such a warm day and the wind was blowing just a little and shadows and light were flickering all around and I didn’t want to walk away from the music.  When I talked to the harpist, he asked me if I wanted to try playing, so I sat on his stool and placed my fingers on the strings in the proper way my harp teachers had taught me.  He said it was not good to play classically, because the rigid fingers trap the resonance of the strings.  He said the best teacher he ever had was a little boy. 

His harp was plugged into a tiny amplifier, and he turned it up and we waited for the wind to blow.  And when it did, we heard the wind play the harp.  He told me to play the harp like that, to gently find the notes, with intuition, like the wind.    
a portrait of the harpist
A little bit further down the road, I saw that an antique shop I’ve been wanting to go into was finally open.  Inside, hanging almost out of sight on the back of a chair, I found an old night shirt trimmed with handmade lace.  It didn’t have a price on it, so I asked the shop keeper how much it was.  She held it up and looked it over and then she said it was 10 euros.   I took it home and washed it in the sink and hung it on the line to dry in the sun.  Then I ate Neufchatel and bread and drank a little glass of Alsatian beer.  The cheese was mild and creamy, the bread a little bit salty, and the fizzy beer stung my tongue and the back of my throat.  And after that, I went up to paint the vegetable garden at La Maison de la Grande Vigne.  

morning mist 

Tomorrow night, Les Amis de la Grande Vigne are coming to choose one of my paintings for their collection. I don't want my time here to be over!

I've upgraded from Nancy Drew!

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