Burning Home Fires

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Last summer, this blue-eyed wanderer spent a record six weeks away from home, teaching and conducting Artistic Adventures in France. It led to the beginning of the now-thwarted, overwhelming attempt to move there permanently in August.

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Then a plan B, filling the autumn with the upheaval and excitement of moving and restoring our new Highland Square home, which boasts not only a first floor painting studio, but also two wood-burning fireplaces.

Supposedly…

With major construction behind us, Christmas Day, itself, was a delightfully quiet one. Anchored by a day-long fire in our newly rebuilt(smoke-free!) fireplace, it was interrupted only by a long, leisurely walk in the sun with our trio of canines.

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Life’s rhythm has changed since moving a little over a mile from Dorchester Rd. In our new hundred year old digs, incorporating many of the events we love about French village life has been possible: walking to the market, cafes, coffee shop and pharmacy as much as possible. And the fireplace.

1934574_10207495839292708_3509966120791038704_n.jpgLoosing the convenience of an on-off gas valve to control the fire has slowed our pace further, leading us to revel in the leisure and the labor of the moment. Evenings spent lingering by the fire until only embers remain have brought further contentment to this new chapter of life: a silver lining to the inevitable limitations accompanying these onsetting “Golden Years”.

12391773_10207541328869919_2387994479260122359_n.jpgAs I listen to the crackling fire while planning new summer French Artistic Adventures, for the first time, I feel a wistful twinge about being away from home, measuring the number of weeks and days I really need to be away from our new dream.

 

Christmas 2014

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Christmas Day:

Yesterday, while driving home from Cleveland, I heard a fascinating interview with three very talented musicians, in which each was asked to relay a Christmas memory. Some were charming and one was unexpectedly poignant. But all of them made me so grateful for every moment I’m alive. And after living sixty Christmases, it can be tricky to find new meaning in a holiday that carries so much clout. But as I listened to these brilliant young men, on the coattails of hearing a wonderful recording on the Bach d minor concerto, I was once again experiencing Christmas in a new way. What I realized about Christmas follows. In its raw form, it was my Christmas toast to the “usual suspects” at our annual Christmas Eve party. In a bit more refined and thought-out version, it’s my Christmas blog to anyone who will read it.

1411312742022Beyond all the joys of traveling, painting, weddings and births, the past four years have also been riddled with other events which appeared, at the time, to be impossible situations. Some of these were made public via this blog. Others continue to remain private and untold. But each of these life-upheavals left me wondering how my world would ever be OK again. How would it ever be possible to find some sense of normal, even if it meant redefining the word? The only sure thing was that if life went on, it wouldn’t be the same. My job was to be flexible(protean, as a brilliant, erstwhile flame put it) enough to accept the imminent change confronting me, believe there would be light at the end of the tunnel and hardest of all, let go of life as I adored it at that moment. In the last hours of my sixty-first Christmas, I realize it’s about believing in the impossible, because the impossible is simply the necessary, fertile ground for, I hesitate to use the word, miracles. Not nose-twitching, abracadabra magic acts, but those excruciatingly painful-yet-1412756044918beautiful metamorphoses which extrude us into new, richer versions of who we were meant to be. Not to wax pious(because I’m not) but at last I get the point of the story of the annunciation: finding new beauty in submission to those frightful moments beyond our control.

As Jim and I prepare to embark on a delayed honeymoon to the south of France as well as life’s subsequent adventures, that realization will be tucked in my travel bag and “pondered in my heart” for 2015. Stay tuned.

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