Friday, February 27, 2009

Praying the Memories

In recent years I have sometimes found myself in Paris for a few days during the Lenten season. If I was in the fifth arrondissement, I liked to slip by myself into an old church on rue Mouffetard called St Medard. All of a cosmopolitan city was around me, but seated on one of the low chairs inside the church I was allowed to feel like one more lost soul in need of quiet and a bit of solace.

I would like to sit there again.

Photo of St Medard on rue Mouffetard uploaded on Flickr by Montgolfier

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

On the first day of still another Lent in my life, I am drawn to the pattern on this architectural inlay. I will be trying later today to purchase a sample of it.

What does this border pattern say to me?

That things don't change.

But that they can.

And that they do - with surprising regularity.

Image of border design by Klutch Design

Monday, February 23, 2009

Winter Colors 15

Friends who know my fondness for an ice-chip cold martini at the end of a day sometimes help me enjoy another winter color. Olives used to provide an odd color and an odd taste -- what seemed at the time a very adult taste -- to certain things I ate growing up. I learned in time that most olives improve with a half-hour wash of gin. A toast to those friends who keep me in mind when they shop.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Colors 14

The next two weeks will bring me again and again to a nearby storage facility. A bit like daylight, space by itself may not seem to have a precise color. I am glad that my initial negotiations took place on a late winter afternoon, and I was able to walk out into the parking lot at the end of the session and fill my lungs with fresh, cool air. Looking back from the car, I found the sun reflected and took heart.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Winter Colors 13

Daylight is its own color. Beautiful glass lets daylight just be, and the person who gets to behold that natural beauty gets to enjoy daylight's calm possession of surfaces -- those that reflect it and those that merely absorb it. Someone who can sit before such a scene, witness daylight's refusal to claim an exaggerated importance, may learn to grow still and find he does not fear the daily return of shadows.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Winter Colors 12

It is hard to explain why certain moments in a season like winter seem a particularly effective portal into the past. Sepia is a color that sets a mood, sunlight and expressions and gestures gently frozen in shades of brown. "The Commons," a feature through Flickr that brings public-domain images together from various sources (like the National Media Museum), is worth exploring by other mood-conscious readers.

Photo of woman reading from the National Media Museum

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter Colors 11

Moleskine journals can sometimes look distinctly unglamorous, deliberately uncolorful. The kraft covers, however, say, "Look inside. THAT is what I am about."

There is something breathtaking about the courage that manages to find words to tell the truth.

Photo of Moleskine Journals provided by Barnes and Noble

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Colors 10

Sunday morning of a long weekend found me down the hall in the kitchen making French toast. Key to the experience: the smell of real butter browning in the skillet and the steady rhythm of the whisk by which I beat the egg and milk needed for one person's French toast. Bubbles atop the yellow batter, bubbles within the browning butter!

And a mug of hot coffee nearby through it all.

Photo of egg and whisk from Kitsap Sun

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Winter Colors 9

After all my talk this week about Valentine reds, I received today a copy of Mary Oliver's recent collection of poems and essays entitled The Truro Bear and Other Adventures. The dust jacket is clearly not the fire-engine red of most store-bought hearts; on the other hand, a peek under the jacket reveals what I have to confess are Valentine-red cover boards with a brown cloth spine.

I am grateful to the universe for making sure that Mary Oliver came to me today, whatever the red of the cover I saw and handled as I settled down tonight to read. Settled down -- once again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winter Angelus

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I don't know whether to apologize or not for this sound clip. The impulse to listen all the way through when I found a link to it was surprisingly strong. If it says something to you, enjoy.

I like the cough at the very end. It grounds me when I hear it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winter Colors 8

On a bookcase near a window in my office, a Christmas cactus has decided to bloom afresh this week before Valentines Day. I had been resigned to months of stolid cactus greenery after its December burst of bloom. Maybe there is an invitation here to imagine still another red for valentines -- something closer to coral in places. I find I'm saying yes again.

Photo of Christmas cactus by Norman Walsh

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Winter Colors 7

Yellow as a school bus, the tin from which I take daily smears of Burt's Bees Hand Salve is the very promise of robust good health. Having grown up amid the natural moisturizers of a New Orleans climate, I now use this homespun antidote to the drying effects of a New England winter. Nothing French or delicately floral here. And what happens in the nose with each generous application is hardy.

Photo of Burt's Bees Hand Salve from Burt's Bees

Winter Colors 6

This Thursday two King Cakes from Haydel's Bakery in Jefferson, Louisiana, will be delivered to my New England place of work. My colleagues will have various reactions to the icing in the familiar Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. Listen to an NPR segment on these traditional New Orleans treats.

Photo of King Cakes from Haydel's Bakery available on Lubbock Online

Monday, February 9, 2009

Winter Colors 5

In the week approaching Valentines Day, card stores and candy aisles everywhere trumpet an aggressively primary red. I have been seduced by Paper Source once again, though, to craft greetings to friends this week using an alternative -- a color hailed as rhubarb. Tasty option, I think, partial as I happen to be to strawberry and rhubarb pie.

Photo of rhubarb envelope from Paper Source

Friday, February 6, 2009

Winter Colors 4

Not everyone will find the image of fish fillets on a bed of ice an inviting one to contemplate for any length of time on a winter's day -- or any day. Unless, that is, you just purchased some flounder, all creamy and a little pink in color, and are still enjoying the memory of what happened once they were dredged in corn meal and laid in a hot skillet, lightly oiled. Add a salad of baby spinach.

Photo of flounder fillets from Always Fresh Fish

Winter Colors 3

Sous les Toits de Paris (1930)

Swing Time (1936)

There is a quintessential winter moment that can only happen watching films of the Thirties. Black and white, yes, but what black! what white! what scales of grey! These winter colors from Paris and Hollywood cast a glow for (and on) someone curled up in a love seat on a cold New England night. Thank you, Netflix!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Winter Colors 2

Sometimes a winter color is the result of cooking, bringing sugar to a boil, allowing a brown to emerge that is available no other way. Pralines, gritty under the teeth, have a hue that prepares a winter sojourner for a way to get comfortable that may seem to break the rules of healthy eating.

Photo of praline from Southern Candymakers

Winter Colors 1

One response to February in New England might be recording the colors with which we find ourselves surrounded, snow or no snow, above freezing or below. A friend brought me two Cara Cara oranges this week, and I loved the surprise of the color and the way the flavor burst in my mouth.

Photo of Cara Cara Pink Navel Orange from Otravia