A year for cherries.

June 11, 2013

quite a year for cherries

Sometimes the big great mystery hears your cry… and replies.

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Sittin’ on top of the world

December 10, 2012

For the past month and a half I’ve been house-sitting at the eco-lodge where I finished my GR10 hike last summer. The owners needed a refuge guardian and someone to feed their pets, so once again, I find myself up in the heights looking out over a world I never could have imagined. Right now it’s covered in snow. I’m astounded at the size of the world, the magnitude of change, the wide beauty of it all.

The path I take to walk the dogs leads out of the village of Planés and into the shadowed peaks where the Conflent meets the Cerdan plateau. From certain places you see the opening of the Tet Valley below, where my quasi-permanent writer’s cottage patiently waits. On clear days you can see the blue halo of the Mediterranean Sea.

This is why I’m here, why against all reason I’ve decided to make this part of France my home. This place where mountains and sea commune has gripped me and I’ve learned that the peaks of mountains and the tides of the sea aren’t all that opposing. What’s the difference between height and depth really? They both give views into the unknown, into a blue horizon of other.

I remember a day in my twenties. I sat on a beach in Florida stoned out of my mind. I’m not usually given to such substances—even in my youth I tended to prefer staying in control of my mind. Perhaps that’s why I remember that day so vividly, because my mind opened up despite myself. I just remember sitting on that beach, looking out over the ocean and thinking: The world is immense. I am small. I want to go there.

This morning I took Tossa and Zemec (my canine charges) up the powdered white path for their daily walk. The only buzz I can claim is from two cups of coffee, but the moment was similar to that day sitting in the powdery sands on a Florida beach. The snow over the fields had been blown into sand-like dunes. From the white abyss I looked out over the edge of the world and felt its strength, the movement of the ocean, the erosion of land, the clashing of continents forming mountains. It felt like the coming and going of life.

Following are some images from my time up here. The lyrics of a Dave Mathews Band song come to mind.

Would you not like to be, sittin’ on the top of the world with your legs hangin’ free? Would you not like to be okay, okay, okay?

blog white horse

avery and tossa at 2200 meters

DSC04756

Chapelle du Belloch en haut

Chapelle du Belloch

ice cyrstals

blog snow peaks

blog black horse

blog snowdune

I only ever wanted to live simply, where I could write and smell the world. It’s been a long road, but today I find myself living alone in a room in an old mill house in France with spectacular mountain views and villagers fit to be characters in a book. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but for now I’m pleased and content. I won’t give my village a name or tell you where I’m at because I feel a need to protect this haven, this dream. Following are a few pictures of my writer’s nest.

All the season’s fruits are coming to an end. My driveway smells like fig jam with fermenting figs littering the ground. Late season tomatoes are juicy and perfumed. I’ve been cooking a lot lately. Made a pumpkin pie, sour cream pancakes, plum turnovers… For the figs a special person recently taught me that they’re best when they’re beginning to crack, bursting open while still on the tree. I agree.

This is the ever changing horizon of where I sleep and wake now. It’s enveloped with peace and abundance. What a joy it is to breathe.

March 11, 2012

I don’t have much time to write, but I simply can’t let ice and winter wind have the last word. Especially when spring is so beautiful here in French Catalonia. This Florida native is loving these new spring developments.

Rosemary bushes are in full bloom.

Bees are loving the rosemary blossoms. I look forward to this year’s honey batch.

Almond blossoms are in full swing with cherry blossoms just behind them.

Tender violets are now popping up along footpaths.

Beaucoup de violets!

And now this commercial announcement:

The reason I have little time for my personal blog is my job as ‘company scribe’ at an eco-luxury hotel here in the French Pyrenees. In case you missed my emailed link, have a look at the new website I’ve been busy writing all winter. If you want to stay updated, subscribe to the newsletter and you’ll get my latest eNews each month. I’ll be posting on the blog there regularly as well.

Parts of the website and blog are still a little rough and I’ll be reworking and adding to it all summer. So check back often and don’t hesitate to share your ideas and thoughts from a browser perspective. Please share and forward and spread the word if you can.

And I hope to see you here very soon…on the Spanish frontier in the South of France where spring comes early and Floridians rejoice.

The sun is pouring down here where the eastern Pyrenees meet sand. And it’s October!  We’ve been eating dinner outside on our new grand patio every night. Yes, I said new. The nomad in me stirred and we’ve moved yet again. New address: Sorede, France at the entrance to La Valee Heureuse. Happy valley it is. Olive groves and grape vines, mountains crumbling to the sea, big full moon rising over water.

Since selling the cafe in 2007 we’ve moved nine times. So it’s official, I’m a hunter and gatherer. Following that tune I’ve spent these past few weeks harvesting and savoring. First with an edible plant cooking class at Can Rigall and later with those as-promised fallen almonds.

Following are some pics of the edibles to be had around here. But first, let’s welcome Mom who’s here for a year. We picked her up at the Barecelona airport on October 4th and went directly to the beach! Look for guest posts from her very soon.

I think I'm gonna like it here.

Borage and begonias, among other edibles used in our cooking class with Leila.

Kitchen activity at Can Rigall. Soon our new website will promote all our events like this recent workshop "Cooking Plants with Passion".

Almond groves in late afternoon light.

Fresh almonds!

The extent of my hunting skills.

Limes and figs are coming to an end. The vins primeurs will be celebrated real soon. Olive harvest coming in November. And then, it may just be time to move again! Catch me if you can 🙂

It’s been a surprisingly cool summer. Lots of rain. The sweater I only wore one or two times in winter in the Everglades is now ragged from use. But I’m not complaining. David Abram in his beautifully inspiring book The Spell of the Sensuous quotes a Koyukon elder (people of northern Alaska) who believes in “accepting the weather as it comes and avoiding remarks that might offend it. This is especially true of cold, which has great power and is easily provoked to numbing fits of temper.”

Abram’s book is a celebration of humanity’s ancient roots in nature and simultaneously a lament of our current disconnect from it. Among many other things, it’s inspired me to accept the seasons as they choose to unfold.

It’s late summer now here in the eastern Pyrenees. The days have grown warm with afternoon thunderstorms building up over the presiding mountain Le Canigou. The farmer on the ridge just above our village of Arles sur Tech cut his fields last week. Alain and I passed him on his tractor hauling an overflowing load of hay for his cows to eat this winter. Two nights ago we drove my friend Isabelle home from the train station in Perpignan. A big orange moon rose up over the Alberes mountains, their night outline fading far toward the sea. Alain said, “Les jours racourcissent vite maintenant.” The days are quickly getting shorter now.

This morning we took Lilly on our regular walk along a dirt road and pastures soon to be full of cows returning from high mountain grazing. The morning air was warm with late season smells of ripeness. We collected bags of blackberries and pulled hazelnuts from a tree not far from the river. We made note of a walnut tree nearby, its branches growing full of nuts to collect in the fall.

My tiny French freezer is full of peaches and strawberries. Last weekend we jarred tomato sauce and pickled yellow squash. All the vineyards in the region are heavy with fruit. The season is suddenly on us.

And so too is its end. But I don’t feel sad or rushed by such fate. The weather will change. I will  welcome it. I only hope it hears my good words.

Bo Plays

July 26, 2011

I have several drafts of posts in the works, but no time to finish any of them, ie to write anything meaningful. But who’s really reading them anyway? So without further ado, here’s one of the things I have in queue to share:

Bo was a pillar at JT’s, the organic restaurant I owned for seven years in Everglades National Park in Florida. He supplied our kitchen with organic produce, gave advice for our kitchen garden and played a bluesy sort of blue-grass once in a while for our dinner guests.

I’m too poor to upgrade my blog  so I don’t have video capabilities…or maybe it’s just that I’m too technically challenged to figure it out.  We’ll see what happens next.

Whatever the case, I’m posting a link here the old school way. It’s Bo and it makes me miss dearly those mosquito filled days in my native Florida.

Any of you wishing to see my labors move from cleaning toilets to clacking on a keyboard can help that along by sharing my recent assignments from Gomad Nomad.

Tweet them, Facebook them, email them, share and share some more. Whether or not you believe in non-polluting travel or European paradise destinations is beside the point. Just get them out there! Two links are below.

http://gomadnomad.com/2011/05/20/dreaming-of-warm-temps-and-tranquility-on-tenerife/

http://gomadnomad.com/2011/04/04/going-jet-freealternatives-to-flying/