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Posts tagged ‘New England’

Those that keep silence, suffer more

This year my husband and I agreed to spend Christmas apart. Fear not, this is no dramatic announcement of impending divorce, but rather a reflection on the bloated airfares during the season of goodwill. In due time, I will tell of why we presently live one on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, but for now I will keep my council. It was my very own idea and I feel that it was a worthy protest, though I imagine it was inconsequential to the point of silence to those responsible for pumping up the prices with such unfettered glee.

Unwilling to risk being peeved by my own decision, I settled on a different solution to the celebrations than sitting in solitary splendour brooding over a meal for one all the while being eyed meaningfully by The Beady Greedy Bean.

In France, as in many other countries, la veille de Noël (Christmas Eve) is traditionally the biggest celebration. A large and lengthy meal with your loved ones culminates in the stealthy arrival of Père Noël (insert your own word for the snowy bearded wonder with grandeose paunch and snazzy white fur-trimmed scarlet suit) who soundlessly leaves gifts around midnight. It is a time of great joy and festivity for most but for others, to many others, it is a sad, solitary night, a time to dwell on past pleasures and the knowledge that there is little solace in the idea that the sun will rise again on the morrow. I speak of the old and alone. Those whom, for whatever reason, have no-one to care for them, those that subsist on tiny incomes and those that tend to be invisible to the masses. So I signed up to assist the Big Christmas Eve dinner laid on by a wondrous charity called Les Petits Frères des Pauvres. Translated as ‘Little Brothers of The Poor’ you may recognise the international federation it belongs to. If you don’t, I urge you to check it out for yourself. If you feel so inclined.

Donning the compulsary Bonnet de Père Noël, but fortunately no beard nor plumping suit, I had three seniors to collect from their homes, because I had also volunteered my car named Franck. I had one gregarious gentleman (aged a twinkling 98 if you please) and two lovely ladies (87 and 89 respectively). I delivered them to the venue, parked Franck and then joined the, incidentally mostly millennial, gang to serve dinner, play games, sing songs and greet Père Noël bearing gifts at midnight. Before we started and after we had seated our table after table of venerable guests there was a silence to remember those who fell serving in the Résistance. Grenoble is one of three cities and two villages awarded the Ordre de La Libération at the end of The Second World War and it is hard to describe how moving it was, that moment of respect standing head bowed amongst those who were directly touched by the indescribable bravery of those who refused to be cowed.

It was 2 a.m when I finally took my exhuberant and energetic charges home to their still silent dwellings. We had sung songs I knew and others I didn’t, played games that had to be explained to me and others that were comfortingly familiar and danced polkas they foot-perfect, I flat-footed. I feel tremendously priviliged to have been allowed to join in and to give beaming cheer where otherwise there would have been the bitter chill of loneliness in a world that too often scurries past rather than observing, for a moment, and perhaps acknowledging that, if we are deserving of conviviality and gaety and levity and simple companionship, then they surely are too. The waning years of human life should not label the bearer untouchable and past your sell-by date and fit to be cast into a metaphoric bin as though your odour is no longer tolerable.

I was motivated to share this moment by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge labelled ‘Silence’ and as ever you can view, if you feel disposed to, the far more meritorious entries to the gallery here.

The picture was taken in Massachusetts in February 2016. Of course the United States has seen far more than it’s share of snow this winter season and the fat lady is not ready for the final song yet. I imagine, amongst all the chaos and hardship such weather induces, there has been that sense of muffled stillness that snow produces. That softly muted quiet that I love. Because silence can certainly be golden. It can also be heartbreakingly heavy.


PS: The title is taken from C S Lewis that wisest, gentlest most considered of scolars. He said ‘I have learned now that while those that speak out about their misery usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more’ … I recommend to everyone that, apart from the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’, you should read his work more widely and that his letters, published in several volumes to the many he corresponded with contain much wisdom, whatever your beliefs or views on faith and spirituality. That aside, I did, of course that morning in the woods, feel that I had stepped into the kingdom of Narnia.

There is a second part to my Christmas which I will chronicle separately in due course

And your bonus: The Tremeloes singing ‘Silence is Golden’. Although Frankie Valley and his Four Seasons recorded it first, this is the version as an English girl that I remember best.

The question is not what you look at, but what you see – Part Four: P thru T

To your undoubted relief, this is the penultimate instalment in the musings of an alpha-betic woman on the occasion of her leaving the United States.  Papa to Tango here we go.  My father was always Papa to his grandchildren and he was very light on his feet though I am fairly certain he never tangoed.

P.  P is for Patriot’s Day  which is celebrated each year in the States of Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin on April 19th to commemorate the battles of Lexington and Concord which formed the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775.  Since we live very close to Concord (pronounced Concud) we decided to go and watch the re-enactment on the day.  And a jolly event it was.  We joined crowds walking down the street from the rosette, garland and banner festooned town square passing waiting carriages bearing presumably important dignitaries and gathered in the Minute Men National Historic Park just up from the Old North Bridge where the battle took place.  We watched as British Troops in their foolish scarlet coats, fur and feather  adorned hats and bright white breeches, not to mention glistening gold braid which was never going to see reputable service  as camouflage, marched towards the bridge and the excitement mounted.  All of a sudden a shot rang out and the commentator told us that this was ‘the shot that was heard around the world’  I have to confess I hadn’t heard of such a shot before but that is surely because I learned about this period in History from a British perspective because I was schooled in Britain – history is all in the retelling, don’t you find … the drama and tension crescendoed as the British took aim and fired and the rebels, warned by the relentlessly galloping Paul Revere (is that where the word ‘revere’ comes from because he is truly revered hereabouts) that the army was on the move, flooded down on them.  All on the little wooden bridge you saw at the top of the last post.  Then mayhem.  All around me people screeched and bellowed ‘go home Lobsterbacks’ and I, mildly bewildered at the rising zeal mildly anxious at my Englishness in the face of this sudden hostility and probably lightheaded, enquired of a  particularly vociferous woman why the Minute Men are called Minute? I was careful to  utter the word as I thought it was  pronounced – My Newt?  Is it, I enquired because they were particularly small?  She gaped at me in a way that told me exactly and precisely what a buffoon I am and explained very sloooooowly that its pronounced Minit but I was left no wiser as to what that minute was as she carried on hurling abuse at the British once more, her fervor presumably further piqued by her newfound surety that we are a tiny nation of ignorami.

P is further for Pie … I worship at the alter of all things pie and pastry and in this country pie is a venerable artform.  When I wandered into the store the day before Thanksgiving, I was greeted by more pies than I have ever seen collected in one place, in so many varieties as to make my eyes water with glee.  I won’t tell you what my favourite pie is … I am after all an international woman of mystery and it is important for me to keep my veneer intact.  But suffice to say – you can tempt me with most but the sweet potatoe marshmallow affair proved a pie too far.  And P has to be for Poets.  This country has produced some of the finest and this corner a good slough of my favourites.  We have Longfellow and Thoreau and Poe, we have Plath and Dickinson, we have Stanley Kunitz and at his death there was Robert Frost.  It is hardly surprising to me that this place breeds poets of note.   I should note the light …. it is quite unlike any other to me …. soft and subtly iridescent. Maybe that is true all over this continent.  One day I will discover for myself.  I really will.   And finally P is for Pompositicut which is the Native American and original settlement name for the town we live in.  Forgive me, good people for thinking it said Pompous Idiot when I first arrived ….

Q.  Q is for Quantity.  I am used to metric measures and I am used to imperial measures.  Here in the kitchen I must use a cup and in the car I must remember that a gallon is smaller than I am used to.  This is something that makes my childish husband smirk – a ten gallon hat is smaller here than in Briton.  I rather think that the average Brit would look foolish in a Texan 10 Gallon let alone a magnified british one.  The bet bit for me is that my US Dress Size is two numberals lower than my British one meaning that I can almost kid myself that all the pie has not made a jot of difference and indeed has mysteriously sylphed my figure …. Q is also for Quite.  One thing I had to understand quickly was that this word is actually very complimentary.  If something is ‘quite nice’ it means it is really good.  If you quite like it you are genuinely enamoured – it is a word to express enthusiasm rather than the dullard, non-commital rather average way it is used in Britain.  And Q is for Quaint.  I was born and raised in a place that would certainly be thought of as ‘quaint’ by Americans …. thatched rooves, little brick or stone cottages, white-wash and half-timbering are plentiful though of course the myth-busters can compile a polar opposite list to pop the utopian bubble very easily.  But, you see – I find it ‘quaint’ here … the houses clad in wood painted in a luscious variety of colours, the veranda’s and porches and the churches some brick some wood but always with a white spire reaching optimistically towards it’s heaven. 

R.  R if you know me at all was bound to be for River and in particular because it runs close to the house here and I have spent SO much time walking by it, the Assabet.  And running.  Our go-to running trail is along the river so I guess R must be for running trail too.


And if you know me a little better than at all there will be absolutely NO surprise that R is for Rowing.   I’ve been to two big events this year.  The Women’s Varsity Boatrace in Shrewsbury in May which is in effect like the Oxford and Cambridge University Boatrace in Britain but with many crews rather than the two blue boats doing herculean battle one on one.  The top crews will decamp to Henley-on-Thames in June for the Women’s Regatta and I can report from personal experience a few years ago, scarily good they tend to be too.  In October we headed for the Charles in Cambridge to watch the Head of the River race there.  Head races, for the unitiated are time trials and taken from a rolling start.  The river is broad and not a snip to navigate and some of the classes were clearly particularly hard fought.  The carnival atmosphere was infectious and although Rowing can never be regarded as a spectator sport the crowds were clearly undeterred by that very minor detail.   My daughters will all attest to the uninspiring vision of watching rowers battle it out on river or lake, having spent many many hours of their childhood watching mummy compete or more accurately getting distracted by something much more interesting, like a blade of grass and altogether  missing mummy’s glorious triumphs.  I am scarred by their collective disinterest.

S.  S is for Sport.  Sport is a mahusive part of the culture here.  As it is in Britain and in France and probably in most places.  But there are differences.  The obvious is that what I call Football they call Soccer and it is a minor sport.  Football is like armoured rugby and fanatically followed.  Our local bigshots are The New England Patriots and everything stops for a Patriots Game.  I watched the Superbowl Final (not featuring The Patriots last season) on TV in an attempt to feel American and understand the game.  By the end of the match I can confidently say that I do.  I think.   And that I hope one day I will go to a real game.  And take part in a Tailgate party in the stadium parking lot.  This is where you mass cater a huge picnic amongst a group of spectators and basically have an al fresco banquet in the carpark served out of the boot (or trunk) of all your huge trucks and SUVs.  I believe this, in itself can get a trifle passive-agressive competitive amongst the ladies but this may be an urban myth.  Then there is Basketball (local side The Celtics) where it is an advantage to be at least 6′ 7″ tall and lean like a runner-bean with un-naturally long legs and arms.  Ice Hockey also favours tall people (as does football where your shoulders need to be as wide as you are tall and the upside down V is further enhanced by enormous body armour) and is possibly the most violent game I have ever witnessed.  I was therefore quite shocked to discover that a Mini Mite starts out at less than 7 years old straight into playing  the full game thus batised and fired like little iron-men they  progress through Mite, Atom, PeeWee, Bantom and Midget before fledging as Juniors at 18+.  To be frank I wouldn’t tangle with a Mini-Mite let along a Midget.  Our big side is the Boston Bruins but I have only been to a Harvard-Cornell college game which was quite tame in comparison to the professional game presumably because it is somewhat important not to flirt too zealously with concussion which is an ever present risk even with the compulsory and quite gladiatorial helmets.  Finally there is of course Baseball (Boston Red Sox) …. this is played in summer and I found myself slowing down many times as I passed school teams playing – let me tell you THIS is the stereotype of America that a dull English girl like me imagines.  It really is.  Baseball players chew tobacco and spit and the pitchers seem to develop rather pronounced derrieres.   I don’t know why.  And S is for Salem.  Famed for the Witch Trials of 1692, Salem was also one of America’s most influential ports.  Brimful of history it is also an extremely laid back and slightly offbeat place.  Very artsy and full of excellent restaurants I have a love of it and it has to be included.

T.  T is for T.  I haven’t lost the plot.  The T is the public transport system for Boston and Greater Boston region.  Run by The Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority no-one has yet been able to tell me why it is called The T.  But if you want to get about Boston you’d better buy a Charlie Card and hop a subway or bus rather than try driving in a city which is only for the brave or foolhardy and probably both.  I get the subway from Alewife (pronouced Al Wife) to Park Street on the Common and find it surprisingly restful particularly when it chugs across the wide expanse of The Charles.   I like The T.


is also for Trash.  We have a huge bin for trash and a gigantic bin for recycling provided by our trash contractor, which is very green and pleasant.  Our trash goes out on a Tuesday which makes for a satisfying American Alliteration.  I try not to be prone to being over-interested in what others do which might sound odd given that my writing is all observational but I have no desire to be Pinnochio.  However,  having spent a year here I couldn’t fail to notice that one of our neighbours manages to fill to overflowing and beyond both bins every week.  How do you produce so much waste in one household (apart from the fact that the pizza van is a nightly visitor) and what sort of an example is it to the two children who are part of the family.  And why do you never shut your garage doors … do you encourage deer and racoon to reside there?  And mostly why do you walk across my front lawn as though it is your right and let your two dogs poop on it.  It is time for me to go, there is no doubt because these questions have begun to permeate my nights, riddle my dreams and have me rehearsing withering retorts in the bathroom mirror.  When I return, which I hope to next year, I will endeavour to maintain my swan-like serenity but if you do read, in the Boston Globe that there has been a hideous trash-related incident in Metro West Massachusetts and a deportation has resulted, it’s been nice knowing you ….


PS:  Because it’s another song that surely sums up America to an English girl, here is Don McLean with his monumental American Pie.  Singalong, please do!

The top and bottom pictures were taken in Autumn, the fourth season I passed here.


(i carry it in my heart)

I’m rather a fan of a cliché – I always feel that for something to become one it has to be embraced by many and that probably means it has some sense stitched into it’s lining. One such chestnut is that ‘home is where the heart is’. Most would not argue with this. But I would argue that home is IN the heart.

I’ve inferred before that I have moved often and it is true that the moving is not over yet. At the moment I am in the USA and I am far from my mother and from my daughters. Before coming here for this year, I was mostly separate from my husband. And from my mother and from my daughters. This year I have him, not them. When I am in Britain I have them, not him. My father is dead. So he is not any of my here’s at all.

But since they are all carried safely in my heart, I can be home wherever I am and I have learned the trick.

This shot was taken a stones throw from the place I’ve been nesting in Massachusetts – it’s a local path that The Bean and I walk often with or without HB2. It’s a place I sat with my youngest daughter just a few short weeks ago when she came to visit in the high humming heat of Summer’s end and now as Fall falls into place in this place in New England and I am favoured with an understanding of what all the fuss is about, the colours are emerging in the most brazen fashion and stalking my breath and stealing it away effortlessly whichever way I turn. My father loved trees and would have loved to be able to just wander around New England filling his heart with the wonder of Mother Nature’s audacious exhibition. So from his home in my heart, I watch this glorious Autumn unfold and I remind myself just how fortunate I am. To have this perfect vision on my doorstep and to have him in my heart.

I offer the picture in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge titled Local – here is the gallery of all the other captivating captures


PS: If you look closely at the foot of the red-hot tree you will see a pile of sticks. Or not. It’s a beaver lodge – home to a colony of beavers that I have been delighted to spot from time to time busying about their industrious beaver life, whilst I live in their locale.

And for all those I carry in my heart, but particularly for my husband – here is the poem from which I plucked the title of this piece. It’s a little luxury for me to be local to the place where e e cummings was born for I have loved him for as long as I can remember …. ‘beautiful you are my world’

i carry your heart

e e cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

More stern and splendid than mere kindness

I’ve mentioned before the wise advice of a friend to ‘find the purpose in the way things are’.  The last three months have necessitated reaching out to those words and hugging them close and often.

Let me elucidate.  When I moved to France.  To Cantal.  To the pays perdu that I persist in calling home, I cleaved to it.  I knew I was home.  Clock forward two years, two months and a few days and  I was thrust into a New World.  The New World.  A doddle for a cosmopolitan gal like me.

Or not.  The fact is that I struggled to settle and root even a  little here.  The fact is that my heart and my eyes and ears and all my senses were gazing, reaching and yearning for  France.  The fact is that I went through the motions every day.  I strove to get myself into a groove on my long playing record that would make a melody that I could sing along to.  Hallelujah and pass the tambourine, I got there.  I AM here.  And I now honestly  feel that I can love the one I’m with (or more accurately, in).  I have retrieved my inner explorer and pressed re-set.   I am finding so much to be enraptured by.  And why on earth wouldn’t I?  What an opportunity I have.  To live on another continent, find the beauty and the warts and the eccentricities and get under the skin of a place that is such a collosal collision of cultures that a few meagre months or years can never do it justice.  And, I finally get to live with my Two Brained husband –  one love.  My love.

And as it happens (such a coincidence) One Love is the prompt for the Weekly Photo Challenge beautifully represented here by people far smarter and more creative than I.

The picture?  Walking up Mount Eisenhower in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  It was a tough walk up because, apart from being relentlessly uphill and steepish, at the time I had neither crampons nor poles to walk with and above the line it was frozen to the sleekest shiniest glass  whenever the canopy of trees gave a skimpy opening for the glacial breath of winter to polish the ground with her frigid glaze.  And all of a sudden this …. my Narnia moment.  Paradise frozen – water (my enduring love) stopped in it’s tracks until Spring decides to wave her wand, scatter her fairy dust and let it flow once more.


PS:  The quote is C.S Lewis from The Problem of Pain … known for the Narnia Chronicles it is worth getting to know Lewis, the Christian writer whether or not you believe in his God.  He said ‘love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness’ and though I am a true devotee of kindness I support his assertion unreservedly.

I’ve got nobody to hug – I’m such an ugly bug

I’m not an ugly bug. I am a really really ridiculously GOOD-looking dog.  A dog with a serious message to share.   I am The Bean.

I may look like a handbag dweller (I am Metrically less than 4 kilos which makes me Imperially 8 and a half pounds) but I am feisty and fit.


In order to keep my sleek appearance  I take a lot of exercise.  I walk many miles a week with my humans – mostly my mummy (because he is busy doing something called ‘bringing home the bacon’ although in truth I have not seen any evidence of this bacon, to which I am very partial) but bestly with both of them.  We walk and hike on trails here in the USA just like we do in Europe.

The winter here in New England has been unusually mild.  I am grateful for this fact.  I like snow but I am told that sometimes it falls in metres rather than inches and being quite economic in the leg I would soon be unable to walk at all.  We had some of the deep stuff but mostly it was the sort of snow I am used to and I had plenty of fun diggering and snuffling on my walks.

But now it is really quite Springy here and this is the point of me hijacking my mummy’s blog.  I got a tick.  I didn’t feel it.  It just sat on my back which is black.  Then it started to grow – at first my mother thought I had some sort of blemish.  She can be exceptionally stupid.    Obviously a dog as beauteous as I has NO blemishes.  These little blighters sit on leaves and blades of grass and wait for a likely victim (they call it a host but surely a host invites people to the party and I did not invite any ticks to mine).  They can crawl but they cannot leap or fly.

By the time my retarded people realised what it was, several days had passed and it was Sunday with no vets except emergency ones  open.  So they did what all humans do and they Googled.  I don’t really know what Googling is but it seems to be regarded as a fast track to wisdom.  Personally,  I prefer to use my nose.  I’m a dog – it’s what we do.   My daddy was satisfied to discover that his method is the right one.   You take tweezers and make sure you pull it hard and straight without pinching the skin.  But mummy was insistently maverick.  She had found an article written by someone who suggested something unbelievable.  My daddy was mistrustful.  But he agreed to try it.  Probably in the interests of shutting her up.   When he was deciding on a career many aeons ago, he considered being a surgeon.  He did a very passable impersonation of having trained thus as he got ready for the operation.  Sterilised tweezers were laid on the table for the inevitable moment when she was proved wrong and he was proven right and he had to operate with pincers as he had first suggested.  He donned blue surgical gloves and I was taken upon mummy’s knee (which I like very much) and stroked tenderly whilst she held my head in a vice like grip lest my teeth got the better of me and decided to nip.  Which I have to own up, they occasionally do.  Under stress, you understand.  Like the time when someone tried to sit on me when I was a puppy – I was under a cushion and they forgot to check – I was extremely small and the posterior bearing down on me was extremely large.  I had no choice.  Anyway, he  started to rotate the critter quite rapidly with his pointy finger.  His face had incredulity virtually tatooed on it and he was clearly just going through the motions to keep her quiet, so imagine his amazement when after about a minute the tick leapt off me.  Maybe it was dizzy with all the whirling although I don’t think ticks have ears so that can’t be right.  Or maybe it just didn’t like the sensation of being whirled but whatever it was, it jumped leaving no bits of itself in me although it had made a crater in my skin to sup my sanguine fluid out.  Which is extremely rude for an uninvited guest.

And to prove the point that we weren’t fantasizing, two days later I got another one (purely in the interests of research you will understand) and the people did the same trick again and after about a minute it simply flung itself off me.

Daddy put the  tick  into a pot full of something called Gin and covered it with clingfilm.  Mummy says Gin is  also called mothers ruin – well it ruined this mother.  After several days it was very definitely a dead tick.  I don’t know if it was helplessly drunk before it’s demise – I am not that well acquainted with tick habits and I don’t intend to enlighten myself further.

The day after the first tick was removed my daddy rang my mummy and said he was going to the hospital.  He had removed a tick from himself after a run and left it wrapped in paper in a freezer bag in the kitchen.  His work people told him not to take any chances.  He asked mummy to take a picture and send it to him so the hospital could identify it.  I don’t really understand how they do these things – I just know how to pose for pictures and I know it makes them smile so I have become something of an expert at it because it usually generates pats and treats.

Daddy’s tick was a Deer Tick.  My tick was a North American Dog Tick.  I think this is a bad name because clearly no North American dog actually wants to be associated with these vile beasties.  They steal our blood.   Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease.  This is a very bad disease and it can kill people.  It can also affect dogs.   My daddy is fine because the hospital gave him antibiotics but he did have the start of a bullseye blemish where it had started to bite him.  This is a sign that the tick is infectious.



Deer Tick

My people now spray themselves with DEET and their clothes too.  They went to the hunting store to get some.  The hunting store is full of stuffed animals.  I did not go with them.  I do not want to be stuffed.  They also annointed me with anti-tick drops which last a month.  I despise these.  I have them inflicted on me in France where my Vet refuses to believe that they hurt me very badly.  Because I can’t talk human (though I bark very eloquently if you speak dog) I can’t explain what the problem is and they say that my skin doesn’t have any signs of anything bad.  But I really really NO like.  I try extremely hard to rub the stuff off.  Therefore, they used trickery by getting me in the car (which I love), taking me to the running trail (which I love) and with my guard down they squoze it on me and then took me for a long, reasonably fast, run.  Each time I tried to roll they distracted me and by the time I got back I was so tired I had forgotten it.  Until next month.  Sometimes being a dog is very very hard.  This is why I have to have a cupboard full of snacks.  Because my life is tough.  It’s a dogs life ….

PS:  The title is from one of my mummy’s favourite childhood songs – Burl Ives ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’.  Interestingly even the bugs seem not to have invited ticks to the party ….


Fractured pillars frame prospects of rock

France is speckled with more than her fair share of rugged fortresses and fairy-tale chateaux and every shade and hue betwixt, between, beyond and behind.  This one (le Chateau d’Arouze) stands dominant over le Vallée D’Alagnon in the commune of Molompize which has it’s own unique micro-climate enabling it to pioneer the revival of Cantalien wine-making.  We walked the terraces and we conquered the Castle. I have a tendency to hoover up the ambience and atmosphere of  buildings to the extent that my life imagined appears to play out within and without them and I find myself a player in my own drama without ever needing to put pen to paper.  This one did not disenchant as I swished and swooshed and scrambled and scaramouched my way around it, the fantasy trumpeting loud in my head all the while.

HB² (that’s my husband with two brains for new readers) took this sublime shot which seems to me to indicate weightlessness on several levels – the bristly half grown beards of grass like immature goaties on the tops of those ancient towers seem drawn upwards as though absolved of gravity, the stone skillfully, artfully placed so long ago (in 1309 for pedants such as me) reaches heavenwards vainly trying to touch the clouds, themselves apparently weightless wafting serenely and, I always think, a little scathing of that which they float effortlessly above.


I’m responding to the prompt ‘weightless’ in this weeks Daily Press Photo Challenge …. all the other, more marvellous entries are here.

PS:  Sylvia Plath, that most fragile of souls, who I love thoroughly and unashamedly wrote the poem that I snatched my title from.  That she was born in the same year as my still living mother but died only three years after my birth has always resonated  poignantly with me.  Now it suddenly strikes me that she was born so close to where I am making my home for a while in Massachusetts and the echoes ring more shrilly still.

Through portico of my elegant house you stalk
With your wild furies, disturbing garlands of fruit
And the fabulous lutes and peacocks, rending the net
Of all decorum which holds the whirlwind back.

Now, rich order of walls is fallen; rooks croak
Above the appalling ruin; in bleak light
Of your stormy eye, magic takes flight
Like a daunted witch, quitting castle when real days break.

Fractured pillars frame prospects of rock;
While you stand heroic in coat and tie, I sit
Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot,
Rooted to your black look, the play turned tragic:
Which such blight wrought on our bankrupt estate,
What ceremony of words can patch the havoc?
Conversation Among The Ruins
Sylvia Plath



Miles to go before I sleep

‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep’ … if you know who wrote the lines you have a clue to where I am and indeed the place that is now home for some time to come.  Fancy a guess? Leave a comment below and those of you who already know keep your council a while longer if you please.


The picture is in response to the Daily Press challenge to greet this nearly new year and titled ‘Circle’ – here are the other several hundreds of wonderful entries.

This place where I landed a week and a day ago has the most unimaginably beautiful light.  Gentle, pale, soft, benign and the reflection in the frozen pond of delicate sky charmed us as greatly as the ripples made static circles by the freezing puff of winters breath

Here, to make my test entirely untesting is the poem that gave me the line that seemed so apt to title this new chapter in my life:




Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
The little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Robert Frost