Day Six: Feeling Small

"As a tear rolled down Mrs Playmo's cheek, I realized that she  was a romantic at heart."

“As a tear rolled down Mrs Playmo’s cheek, I realized that she was a romantic at heart.”

We were late leaving the house yesterday, and the sun was setting as we hit midpoint in our daily walk. The colour of the sky slowly built up from apricot, to salmon, to vibrant orange and pink tones, and Mrs Playmo scaled the nearest tree and settled on a branch to  admire the view.

The black silhouettes of the motionless trees contrasted starkly with the breathtaking hues behind them. Mountains cut a soft line across the tableau. The birds had stopped chirping. Then Mrs Playmo’s voice cut through the silence:

“I’m a Playmo, and you’re a human. But we are both tiny compared to all that, aren’t we?” She extended a claw to show the spectacular sunset. “Sunsets make me want to cry. I will never see the same sunset twice; each is unique. Just like us. And like us, this one will only live once. How long will I remember it? Maybe until another one, bigger and better, comes along, dethroning this one. Such a waste. And one day, without knowing it, I will see my last sunset. This is the last sunset for somebody, somewhere. That makes me so sad.”

Smelly dog wriggled impatiently at my side, but I was fascinated. There was more inside that hollow Playmo head than I had imagined.

She wriggled down the trunk, dragged her dress back down to her knees, and wiped her nose on Smelly Dog’s fur. “Right, let’s go. Don’t want to be bumping into Marcel in the dark, now, do we?”

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Photo challenge: Curves.

Curves. They are everywhere. intentional, unintentional. Natural or man-made. In the street. In your plate. In church. In the garden. Here are a few I’ve come across on my travels with Candide Canon. Click to enlarge…..

Let’s change the picture….

I decided to do something a bit different today, and post my latest photography efforts. Those who follow the blog on a regular basis may remember that I won first prize in a writing competition recently. I thoroughly recommend getting yourselves over to the Expats Blog to read up on expats throughout the world, and exercise your writing talents without restraint in their two-weekly competitions.

After much hesitation about what to do with the prize vouchers, I decided on a lens for Candide the camera. I have been trying my hand at macro photography ever since – here are my first baby steps….

 

Changes: Climbing out into a new life.

This week’s photo challenge asks for a photo depicting change. It’ll be no surprise to you that I’ve pulled out yet another photo of nature, taken by my husband: a cicada emerging from its exoskeleton in our garden last June.

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Cicadas in this region spend two years underground as nymphs. They dig an escape tunnel of over 30 cm to the surface, like light-hungry prisoners armed with hope and teaspoons. How do they know which way is up? When they finally pop out and discard all the unnecessary packaging, the poor things have just two to three weeks to live (if they don’t get eaten first).

This little guy popped his head out of a hole in front of PF, who spent the entire afternoon observing him as he shed his exoskeleton. (The cicada, not PF. Obviously.) Then his wings dried and unfolded little by little. We left him to get on with his short existence…. but does life feel as long for a cicada as it does for us?

To reassure any of you who found Mr Cicada a tad on the ugly side, here is a pic after a few hours of wing unrolling and drying, and a picture of what he would have finally looked like: a fully fledged miniature army helicopter.

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Colour me natural.

The most recent Weekly Photo Challenge is about colour. Without wanting to sound like I’m bragging, I have heaps of photos of colour. My favourites are those depicting the fabulous hues provided by mother nature.

I have therefore decided to introduce you to Bernard the hermit crab, who P.F and I bumped into on a romantic wander along the rocky coast in St Aygulf, France.  He has gorgeous beady eyes and vivid orange antennae, and the blue spots on his abdomen make him the sexiest crustacean on the beach. A real festival of colour provided courtesy of Mother Nature.

Bernard the hermit crab.

Bernard the hermit crab.

A picnic with Italiaman and the Persian Princess.

Yesterday we got up and discovered that the sun had come out. We had already planned our day. M.M’s family have little patience with ritual eating when the sun is shining. There is nothing more frustrating for me than being holed up inside in front of a roast dinner whilst the sun screams at us to come out and play through the window. So whilst the French population ceremoniously slid garlic cloves into entire flocks of New Zealand lamb and popped them in the oven across the nation, we threw a picnic into the car, picked up two friends from the bus station and hit the road for our favourite playground: the Lac du Salagou.

The day was perfect: blue sky, gently lapping water, happy kids, and fun and interesting company. Our crowd would have appeared strange to anyone passing by: Italian, Persian, French and English picnickers sitting on the red rock, all happily chomping their way through roast chicken, baguette, eggs, crudités, cheese and crisps that all taste so much better in the open air.

The Lac du Salagou.

The Lac du Salagou.

Give me fresh air, nature, sunshine, good food and good company, and I am in my element. Our guests had been brave enough to return after a first encounter with M.M’s culinary efforts over a month ago, when I had taken the colossal risk of cooking an osso bucco for an Italian. The gastronomic gods were smiling at me that day – both guests tucked in with gusto, and Italiaman informed me that his mama had never cooked it for him before. They have been welcomed with open arms ever since.

Persian Princess is beautiful, bubbly and enthusiastic. She patiently answered all the questions I fired at her about life in Iran. I took photos of her with Candide Canon, and noted that however I chose to take the photo, she was stunning. She has fabulous eyelashes – they are so long that they could double up as windscreen wipers. It struck me that attempting to hide a woman’s beauty with veils and scarves does nothing more than accentuate the beauty of what remains visible.

I had noticed that Italiaman was tightly ensconced in a huge grey scarf, and took the opportunity to ask him to explain what the symptoms of the dreaded cervicale were. The term “cervicale” is used by Italians to describe an ailment that only seems to afflict them, whilst the rest of the world has never heard of it, let alone suffered from it. I was introduced to this notion by Our Adventure in Croatia and Englishman in Italy, and the translator in me is frustrated and intrigued to see that no official translation exists for this illness. Despite relentlessly trawling the net, I have failed to find a translation anywhere. Italiaman explained that the merest draught can reduce an Italian to pulp if his or her neck is not sufficiently well covered. The pain goes from the back of the head down to the base of the neck, irradiating out into the shoulders. I asked him why noone else gets it anywhere else in the world, and he shrugged. We decided that Italians are genetically different to the rest of the world.

Rabbit football. The Italian players have been visciously attacked by a "colpo d'aria".

Rabbit football. The Italian players have been viciously attacked by a “colpo d’aria” – literally, a “hit of air”.

Next, Italiaman pulled a bag of Easter chocolate out of his bag. Once the children had dilapidated the bag, we decided to reenact a France-Italy football match with the remaining Easter bunnies and a chocolate egg. Of course, the two Italian players were blown over sideways by a colpo d’aria within minutes of the match starting, and had to be stretchered off to treat their cervicale.

The afternoon was spent in Pezenas, a favourite haunt of mine where my favourite French playwright, Molière, spent a lot of his time. Here are a few pics of our day – I hope you enjoy them.

A colourful slap in the kipper from Mother Nature.

Today was programmed for cleaning and tidying the family cave, but I couldn’t resist sneaking into the garden to take a few pictures after the rain. I was literally gobsmacked by the amount of colour and life clamouring to be seen out there.

I’ve had fun reducing some of these photos and creating only glimpses of them. I have realised just how much beauty we miss in the simplest things, and how beautiful they can be.

Here are a few of them, with a special thought for snow-bound fellow blogger Perpetua 🙂 Have a lovely Easter!