Tuesday 31 December 2013


Nous voilà déjà à la veille d’une année nouvelle.

Dans mon petit monde à moi…

Déjà encore une année dans les Pyrénées.

Déjà toute une vie se construise dans une vallée au bout du monde ; riche en projets, découverts, chers amis et moments forts.

Déjà des heures et des heures de cours de langue en freelance

Déjà des centaines de mots traduits...

Déjà une montagne de difficultés surmontés.

Déjà des accomplissements. Pas (encore) de regrets.

Déjà, la vie.

Sunday 29 December 2013

sewing machine

I was really spoiled this year. Father Christmas my mother-in-law kindly gave me a magnificent Singer sewing machine. To be more precise, she very kindly entrusted into my care her first ever sewing machine. I'm so excited! I can hardly contain my enthusiasm to get a project properly on the go, to thread up the machine and get to know one another.

Saturday 28 December 2013


What a year of ups and downs! We've had our fair share of personal struggles and collective tragedies. More than our fair share of uncertainty, but also moments of great clarity.

Stood at the tail end of this year, I can now see that the overall pattern drawing this seeming mismatch of sometimes tangled threads together has been one of deep rooted and over-arching growth.

I wonder what 2014 will have in store for us?

Sadness gives depth, happiness gives height.
Sadness gives roots, happiness gives branches.
Happiness is like a tree going into the sky.
Sadness is like the roots going into the womb of the earth.
Both are needed and the higher the tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously.
It is always in proportion.
That is balance.


Sunday 22 December 2013

the abacus of the days

The autumn comes as a thief,
creeping in when our backs are turned.
An icy wind blows through the stillness. A gilded leaf,
clings to a silver birch; holding, hanging, hugging.
But then falling nevertheless,
spinning back to the cradle of the earth.

The autumn lingers, coming a little
further each morning.

Up on the hillside, grass
is dry, ferns tarnished, and berries sour.
A flock grazes an ever decreasing pasture; soon the shepherd
will come to bring them in for winter.

All the while, you are as the late afternoon sun;
though growing lower in the sky with the passing of each day,
Never do you falter nor let your fire grow cold.

The autumn withdraws.

Too soon, the sun slips beyond the distant hillside
and we are left in the shadow filled valley.
Yet even now, the warmth of your rays
lingers on our cheeks,
going with us into the night.

In early Autumn 2009, my aunt was diagnosed with cancer of the pancrease. Sadly two days before Christmas, she lost her short, but bravely fought battle with the disease. Tonight, as I write this entry, I still can't quite believe that already four years have past.
The final time I saw her was in September, on one of the last glorious burst of sunshine before the Summer lead us into Autumn and then towards Winter. The next day, I returned here to France to experience my first Pyrenean autumn. Everybody told me that the Pyrenees are at their most beautiful in the Autumn. And they were right. Every day, the beauty that the changing of the seasons brought to the mountains grew more and more breathtaking.

It seems so ironic now, when I think back to that period of my life. Living in a place where life is so deeply intertwined with the rhythm of the seasons, and all the while I was blissfully unaware of just how keenly I would later feel the abacus of the days...

Thursday 19 December 2013

dark skies

The Milky Way, seen from the Pic du Midi de Bigorre
One night in early September, N and I went stargazing. It was an exceptionally clear night, with neither moon nor wisps of cloud in sight. It had rained earlier in the day and there was a smell of damp earth rising from the ground as we walked out from the forest onto the little grassy knoll jutting out into the valley.

Shielded from the street lights of nearby Bagnères de Bigorre, the Milky Way was visible, a rich speckled band of million of stars. 

We stood on the hillside for what seemed hours, heads turned towards the heavens. 

We exchanged the names of stars, his Grande Ourse for my Big Dipper. Satellites traced a path between the constellations, and shooting stars fell towards the earth. We clung together, transfixed by the beauty of the night sky. 

The distance from the earth to the sky is always hard to comprehend, the fact that the light we can see now is so old that the star itself might actually be dead. 

Yet it is even harder to comprehend that we too are made of stardust, that almost every element on this earth was first formed at the heart of a star...

Stargazing at the Pic du Midi
Many thanks to Nicolas Bourgeois, leader of the Pic du Midi Dark Sky Project team, for the accompanying images of the night sky...they are stunning.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

knitting by the fire


It was a week of infitite busyness with such a bumper crop of language lessons, my feet hardly touched the ground. By Thursday I was flagging and come Friday, I was in need of a few days of quiet hibernation. 

The week-end was then spent in a state of general lazing: knitting by the fire, playing card games with N, and lots and lots of herbal tea. I had long sleep-ins, plenty of siestas and in between, read and read and read. 

Now we are into a new week, and I am doing my very best to embrace the winter haze and just take things that little bit slower.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

white peaks, blue skies, visits from friends

November has ended as it started: every Friday night we've gone to bed with barren trees and every Saturday morning we've awoken to a world that looks quite different. This weekend was no exception.

If the Winter is as long and as hard as last year, perhaps by the Spring, I'll be worn down by the weather. But for now, I am beguiled by the change of the season, enchanted by the transformative power of snow.

All the better then that a good friend from university has come to visit for a long week-end...and that there is fresh snow, sunshine and blue skies to enjoy together.