This is the post I was about to publish when I heard of the fire.....
We fitted a lot in - sunrise at Trocadero (yesterday's post), sunset from the roof of our apartment block in Montparnasse (header photo) and Notre Dame at midnight - though not all in the same day, and with rests in the afternoons!
A few days in Paris were a tonic and a thrill.
I am reminded of the atmosphere in York in 1984 when the Minster was badly damaged by fire - there was a palpable hush over the whole city the following morning as people wordlessly acknowledged each other by making eye contact, and the only sound was that of a helicopter circling. The south trancept and the rose window are now fully and beautifully restored.
A grey and grieving day in Paris as one French commentator said, but mercifully there were no fatalities.
My word for 2019.
I'm still trying to work out what I mean by it!
I know what I don't mean. For me it has nothing to do with wizards, fantasy and fairytales, legends and mythology. No casting of spells. No crystals. It's not even about magic.
It's more about wonder.
Wonder at real things in nature, like snow falling down, or a meadow of wild flowers, or just the way a shaft of sunlight strikes the water. Or at a live performance of dance or music by real people that is so good you are transported, or amazement at the skill of an artist or filmaker so dedicated and patient, the infectious giggles of two tiny children being a little cheeky and testing their harassed father's patience on the ferry.....it is everywhere if I am open to it.
Even today in Glasgow - a really dirty grey day, crowds of busy shoppers returning Christmas presents that were wrong, that slightly aggressive atmosphere around serious bargain seekers, traffic fumes and noise as I waited at the bus stop in the gathering gloom when the fumes seemed smellier and the lights seemed harsher and I was getting tired of waiting. But much amplified above the hubbub floated the voice of a young street musician singing Hallelujah and it was suddenly beautiful - all of it. That someone would even do such a thing. That human beings sing in streets. A new atmosphere was created in that moment. Enchantment can send a delightful shiver up your spine!
Do you remember this?
I am going to love this word.
I like the sound of this word in French.
I remember seeing one on the top middle stone of the Rialto Bridge in Venice in the early hours one morning about twenty five years ago. It was a small candle, a leaf and if I remember rightly a piece of fruit. A beautiful mystery. A homage to beaury or love, an offering to the gods, who knows...
Another in a remote part of eastern Sweden - a large flat stone, almost circular, part of the top of a low wall. Something about it had prompted an unknown person to carefully place a tiny bunch of flowers in it's centre. A homage to nature perhaps
I've always called my little collections of things arrangements but looking at this arrangement on the bathroom wall - something to look at while I dry my hands - I see it as un homage to a friend in Sweden whose barn I sketched, to Venice, to joy and to hope in troubled times.
This wee town has been host to a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition, Andy Warhol and now a tiny Degas!
The restored Burgh Hall has been a great success on every level (see here). I particularly like the idea of just one painting and associated talks and classes, and sixty or so people had already visited today when I arrived at about 2pm.
A quote from Degas which I had not heard before...
A painting is an artificial work existing outside nature, and it requires as much cunning as the perpetration of a crime.
The spirit of things, the essence of things, the pathos of things, the way you can be moved and touched by inanimate objects...isn't it fascinating?
I was reminded of a bowl I saw years ago in the British Museum which stopped me in my tracks and I searched my (not well-catalogued) photographs to find it.
I felt such an affinity with, and admiration for, the artist who made this exquisite object, I was astonished at the date!
The hand-made has special qualities which we respond to at a deep level.
Much of the British Museum collections can be viewed online. I put in Quyang, Hebei BRitish Museum and 'my' bowl came up and I browsed and found many other pieces from this period, all of which look so incredibly modern. The wonders of the internet that I can look at this from a remote village in Scotland, and the wonder that I can also share it with you....Love it.
Do you have a favourite museum object that stayed in your memory?
There was also that little hippo (which is even older) from the Sainsbury Centre at UEA - that is online too!
Glasgow is hosting the European Athletics Championships and the city is busier than ever with diversions of traffic, lots of street music and a preacher with a microphone proclaiming that 80% of humanity will end up in hell!
But having enjoyed this programme I went to take a look at the newly refurbished Willow Tearoom by Mackintosh.
I absolutely love the elegant facade (remember this was 1903 and Queen Victoria had died just two years earlier and the woman who commissioned it dressed like this!)
Window like a piece of jewellery. Amazing.
I've not had tea there yet but next trip to the city....
NB It is not yet fully functional and there are other venues called Willow Tea Rooms. This one is in Sauchiehall St. The official opening is not till 7 Sept.
Are you free to seize the day (or even a little tiny bit of it)?
I dropped everything after breakfast to take a sunny walk this morning. The day had started out murky and dull and I was planning to do some plodding tasks which had built up, but suddenly the cloud lifted, the weather changed..
and so did my plans. Plenty of time in the dark evenings to do the paperwork.
I am so thrilled to have this outside my back gate.
I've discovered that the more I move the better I feel.
Especially with the sun on my face.
Looking back up the loch.
cloud was already coming down the glen
and I was so glad I'd taken my chance of a walk in the sun!
Contemporary sculpture in a wonderful natural setting on the Kyles of Bute. Today was the first day of the new season.
Details here - so worth a visit!
I was thrilled to receive these narcissus from the Scilly Isles today.
They are scenting the whole house with their perfume of springtime.
I am signing off for a week or so. Perhaps you would enjoy a browse through Simply Beautiful? Or Simply Inspirational?
I wonder if any signs of spring will have reached you when I return..
Swiss Rose mentioned in a recent comment her ambition to see the northern lights or aurora borealis. You can receive alerts from this website when activity is likely here in uk, but it is very frustrating if like me, you have a mountain (the one right in the centre of the header photograph) between you and the northern horizon. Most of the activity is visible close to the horizon and I see photographs of marvellous effects from just over the mountain the day after a red alert....
Have you seen the aurora borealis?
I like this quote from Julia Cameron's book It's Never Too Late To Begin Again -
The quality of our lives is in proportion, always, to our capacity for delight.
After a whole day of dealing with paperwork yesterday (I am using Marie Kondo's two categories of save and needing to be dealt with) I went into the damp garden and picked this luminous little posy. Photographed under the light of the lamp it looks almost fluorescent.
PS Posts may be somewhat erratic for a bit. Life tends to be erratic don't you find?! (like my weight..)
Spotted at the barbecue - a golden ringed dragonfly (I think?) I have just learned that a dragonfly holds its wings open when at rest, and a damselfly holds them closed....
Thanks to Jennie and Ross for the great photographs.
More on dragonflies and damselflies here.