Friday, April 28, 2017
Time and the River, Thyme and the Sea
I love this recollection of Colette by her stepson, which I found in the Colette day book of my mother's, given to her by my father, among old family photographs and other saved scraps.
If you would know her, think of a garden in Brittany, by the sea. It is early morning and she has been awakened by the melancholy two-note whistling of those birds we call courlis; she has come down, carefully bypassing a small stack of sleeping cats, and the bulldog has followed her silently. She sits in delightful loneliness on the damp and salty grass and her hand enjoys the roughness of the herbs. The sound of the waves fills her mind, she looks now at them, now at the flowers which are moving faintly upward as the weight of the dew dissolves . . . What matters to her is the rapidly changing colour of the sky, the increasing roar of the incoming sea, the polish of a pebble which she had now picked up, and venturing further, the prompt dartings of a shrimp which feels that the tide will liberate it from its narrow pool. It is also the gait of her husband when he comes out: she will watch whether it is lightened by the enjoyment of the crisp air.
—Bertrand de Jouvenel, Time and Tide, 1954
I would be happy to be remembered that way, and indeed might be. Those gentle pleasures of the French writer's are mine as well, and soon my garden will be by the sea. I'm already planning for herbs, and salty grass, and missing only cats and bulldog.
My search for an appropriate image has led me to
. pictures and sketches of Colette in Brittany and elsewhere
. herb gardens in Brittany or by the sea
. herb gardens in bone china teacups, Twinings or Harney & Sons tea tins; decorated with blue & white plates
. French Trappist monks creating Port Salut, a monastery cheese
. French omelette with chives and cherry tomatoes or with soft green herbs
. how to design a potager garden
. and finally,
thinking about making the good kale and quinoa breakfast bowl—which I will go and do.