A cadran solaire in Serre Chevalier. Thank you, "Newforest", for leaving a comment about this sundial:
= Toutes (les heures) blessent, la dernière tue.
= All hours wound, the last one kills."
cadran (kah-drahn) noun, masculine
: (clock) face, dial
In the Alpine village of Le Rosier a wise woman sits soaking in the sun, its reflective rays lighting up the face of her centuries-old stone chalet... which slopes to the side of a winding country road, opposite the cemetery.
I slip by our heroine, camera in my hand--French fountains, sundials, façades on my mind, discretion my hymn. I have 15 minutes to photograph this town, minus Madame (privacy), while my husband and my children wait patiently for me back at la mairie.*
Before Madame, a cup of steaming coffee and a book dress a simple iron table parched for color by the passing of time; beyond, the snowy Alps glisten. I imagine myself in the woman's shoes (make that hiking boots) some twenty years down the timeline: existing peacefully in a petit village montagnard,* just around the corner from the free-flowing fountain. Perhaps after a life of keeping up with the Joneses, this woman is now keeping quiet with the country cows: living finally, simply, in the here and now.
About two meters above the woman's head, a 19th-century cadran solaire* is painted on the façade: its fading face a reminder that not only man-made things--but also Time--eventually disappear into eternity. The previous thought has me matching up words: man/futility... nature/eternity. I think about my picture-taking hobby and what it means to me. Far from feeling disconcerted, I am inspired to enjoy "right here, right now" ... never mind that the photos that I am taking will go the way of the fading sundial: No! it is the hunting and the discovery of images that fuels the soul -- and not the collecting of them: the first is action (read: aliveness!), the second (collecting) is passive and "piling up" and the "up" part brings me back to those Joneses -- whom I'm trying to stay a millenium away from. Indeed, the only thing I want to keep up with anymore is the laundry (I might have said "my dreams" and I'm sure my mom will have her say about that! "Laundry? Forget the laundry! Go out and play!" And so I am trying to...)
Enough philosophy, which, along with good intentions, has that "passive" quality. It's all fine and well to wise up -- and one can wax evangelic till the cows come home. But sooner or later "life" will intervene as life is wont to do just when "know it all you" thinks she has a clue about what is good and what is true. The bottom line is patience and isn't patience born of love? Stay tuned for part two of this story, where an almost enlightened expat... ends up with a flat and an unexpected piece of good luck.
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Comments, corrections, translations (for the French words in this post....) always welcome in the comments box. Merci d'avance! PS: while you're there, don't forget to answer the photo-du-jour question at the end of this edition...
French Clockmaker sign : a reproduction of an old French merchant's sign
Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves : made with no colorings, artificial preservatives, pulps, purees, juices or concentrates.
In French Music: "Au sourire de l'âme" by Pep's (recommended by my son, Max)
Photo du Jour (see the question, below)
Today's question: When's the last time you ordered take-out and from where? Tell us about it, here, in the comments box. (photo: A take-out joint in Marseilles)
Recommended album "Liberta" by Pep's (my son Max's favorite): from the clip, below.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi