And so my parents left Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast. They now live in a small prettyish town on the river Seine. Black alders grow on its banks, tall poplars heavily laden with gleaming mistletoe. There is a cold and beautiful medieval collegiate church which looks like Notre-Dame-de-Paris’ little sister.

It is very far from Toulon.

Does it matter ? And why does it feel like something or someone somewhere died or was forgotten ?

Soon February will be on me, with its arrows of light. It will be pins and needles inside my head, and longing, longing, longing.

Oh, to see them again as they walk time through the sky, from one light to another – Mount Caume, Mount Faron, Mount Coudon. And crushed thyme on limestone hill paths.

I am trying to write a novel. It would feature an old English cottage garden and Cotswolds rolling hills. A beloved home under thick trees, and how to leave it. I am trying but not succeeding. One can only write about things that sit through one’s heart, or lungs, or guts. At least, it is the case for me.



14 thoughts on “Trying

  1. En te lisant, j’ai pensé à cette citation : « La fiction réclame un sentiment vrai. Kafka a dit qu’il fallait chercher un an en soi pour trouver un sentiment vrai. S’il y a un vrai sentiment, le sentiment invente l’histoire. avec un grand sentiment, l’histoire se métamorphose. La vraie fiction est naturelle, beaucoup plus naturelle qu’un article de journal.(…)”  Peter Handke

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oui, exactement Esther, je te remercie de cette citation ! Le mot sentiment est suffisamment vaste pour couvrir le champ. Il me faut une connection plus personnelle avec le paysage que je veux convoquer ou qui doit lancer l’impulsion. Ou avec les personnages. Ce qu’il y avait de sentiment vrai semble s’être trop tôt dilué.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. C’est intéressant que tu parles de dilution, parce que c’est une expérience que je partage : quand je commence à écrire un billet, et que je n'”y suis pas”, comme tu dis, c’est toujours parce qu’il y a quelque chose d’artificiel dans mon ressenti qui me fait buter. Je n’ai pas besoin d’y réfléchir, je le sens. D’où la citation de Peter Handke, qui m’ a frappée ! ^^

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  2. Belated Happy New Year, Frog – best wishes for 2018 and your novel!
    I’m not sure I understood everything in this post – but it sure sounds homesick? Hope you get well though the gloomy grey and cold and icy winds currently blowing and forecast for the next days. They sure freeze one’s will to live, sap any energy from you – and I’m convinced are at least in part behind this post? Unless you already have: get some flowers for indoors, hyacinths perhaps (although they soon start to stink)! Can you move your novel to Toulon?

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    1. Dear Stefanie,
      Thank you very much for your good wishes, I will you a very happy new year too ! Full of plants, of course !

      Toulon isn’t my hometown (I am from Lyon) but my parents have lived there a few years and I thoroughly loved it when I stayed with them during holidays. I really belong to the Mediterranean hills. So yes, I am homesick, and feel deprived of a place, of a light, that really helped me writing. I have written a novel that partially was set in Toulon – place is almost everything for me. I don’t have the sort of talent which derives texts from ideas. As Pessoa would say, “I think with my eye and my ear”.

      Alas, my house is very dark inside and doesn’t allow me to grow many plants. I have a dracaena marginata but don’t know how long it will survive. But you are right, some hyacinths would help. I am waiting for the moment when one can buy those forced daffs from the supermarket. I know, it isn’t ideal, but I still like them. Snowdrops are peaking up along the roads here in Canterbury, that is a joyful sight. 🙂


  3. Oh dear. Monstera is a good choice for dark places indoors, as are many Philodendron, Aspidistra and Spatiphyllum, but you probably know that already. I used to draught-proof my window frames (as best as I could) on moving to Britain for the sake of my indoor plants by sinking as many layers of twine in the gaps as necessary (sometimes 7 – 8). Also: perhaps you could get one of those lamps that mimic sun-light? For the sake of the plants, but even more so perhaps for you? (Have a vague feeling I mentioned this before to you, so please forgive.) But if all else fails: cut flowers help, too – unless you hate cut flowers for being “dead”.
    As for the novel: can you close your eyes and start wandering in memory lanes of southern light? Just pretend you are there, and then write down?
    Glad the snowdrops are out in Canterbury. I discovered the first one in my garden today, too – though I have to admit this was rather by chance. I tend not to venture outside much during the darker months.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the helpful suggestions, Stefanie ! Yes, a sun-light type of lamp would be a very welcome addition to my cave. I don’t know why I have always been a bit uneasy around spatiphyllum, but the philodendron leaves are very attractive. I forgot to mention that, besides light, there is a space problem in my house. I would be tempted to blame the kids and their stuff, but truth is it is the grown-ups’ books and mess that cause problems. We still have boxes of books that we haven’t found the time to sort out since coming back to England.
      No, I don’t hate cut flowers, on the contrary ! I even like the bunches containing really big things like paeonies, but cannot always afford them. It is true they bring happiness.
      I had snowdrops for a year in my garden. After that, they decided they did not like me or my garden and never showed up again. But I am happy to look at those which grow elsewhere. Next thing in preparation in my garden is a yellow freckled hellebore. 🙂


      1. Had to smile reading about your space problem and the explanation. Seems we have yet more in common… There are piles of books in every room except kitchen and bath at ours, many of them in boxes. Unlike yours it’s not “yet unpacked” but “bought and space-efficiently stored, for lack of enough shelves” 🙂 . And yes, while the kids contribute and I’d like to blame them, I know the true culprit… But I do have houseplants, quite a few. In fact, when moving to Britain all those years ago, half the removal van was taken up by plants, and one of the most important criteria when choosing a flat was enough daylight to keep them alive. Well, looking after kids and other distractions did it for half of them, I’m afraid. But those that survived have at least doubled in size – which brings us back to the space problem.
        Yellow freckled hellebore sounds awfully nice and exotic!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha, I am not surprised to hear about your book problem ! 🙂 I remember our removal men trying hard not to curse us aloud whilst sweating under our books’ weight, but yours should have found comfort in the company of beautiful plants. 🙂


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