Immersions & Adaptations
Writing a weekly blog is an interesting challenge.
Some weeks the words almost write themselves and I have to rush to catch them in type before they drift away on the wind. Other times it’s a struggle and I have no idea what I’m going to say. The words almost have to be pulled out, coerced from their cave like a stubborn donkey into the light.
And finally there are times like today, where everything goes in reverse and the piece forms itself from the outside in, almost like an artist painting pastels from dark to light. I start with one idea, it moves to another seemingly unrelated one, and this goes on until the final picture suddenly comes into focus somewhere down the line.
In a way it makes sense, given the way this week has progressed.
It all started with my foot which is transforming into some kind of reptilian art-piece, that somehow led me to think about how Polly is adapting to life here, and eventually bought me around to the thing I actually planned to blog about which was an outing we did in the big city yesterday afternoon.
So in that light, this week is about immersions and adaptations and how we make a blog post (and a life) out of all that….in reverse, reverse. Make any sense? Let’s see, shall we…
First, A Brief Weather Update
Those of you following the on-going weather sagas in France will have seen the rains that came this week. In fact not just rain but floods.
It was a boon for controlling the fires that have blasted us recently, but it was a difficult experience for the cities. And likely to become more common as we run between the extremes of months of high heat & sechreesse followed by intense storms that are no longer able to be absorbed by overly-dry ground.
Those of you who live in flash flood areas are familiar with such things, but in Europe all of this is new.
In France this week torrential rains flooded parts of the metro in Paris, violent gales hit Corsica, grey hail covered Saint-Étienne and the equivalent of 6-months of rain fell over a period of a few hours in Marseille. All the storms came fast, were unexpectedly intense and dumped loads of water that had nowhere to go.
We’re OK in our area, touch wood and all living things.
As usual most of the rain this week fell in a biblical circle all around us, although we did see a decent amount on Thursday. And of course despite this we remain in a deep state of drought. It’ll take a lot more rain (and unfortunately a lot more flooding throughout France) before we see the end of that.
So We Immersed Ourselves in Art
While the crazy weather of Aug 2022 continues, one of the things we’ve been trying to do as we struggle through (and attempt to maintain our sanity), is to have at least one new experience each week to throw ourselves into. This week that adventure took us to the big city and a rather intriguing “Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition” in a 2000 m2 canal-side space that doubles as an exhibit hall and a 1888 hydro-electric plant (which is still in operation!).
The whole thing was rather fun.
Going into Toulouse is always quite exciting, especially coming from a little quiet, rural corner of the world as we do. Like all beings we adapt to the environment we live in, and four years in the countryside has made us dare-I-say-it country folk. So the city becomes a huge contrast with its bustle and noise, buildings and restaurants, scooters, cars and limitless activity. It’s intense and a smidgen overwhelming, but also so very familiar.
I love the contrast though, I really do.
The exhibit itself was also pretty cool. There was an in-depth section on Van Gogh who was an incredibly prolific artist in the mere 37 years he was alive. Over 900 paintings, 1,100 sketches and 844 letters, some of which now sell for tens of millions of dollars (not that he saw that kind of cash while he was alive). Of course those who know his story, also know it isn’t a happy one. The man was tortured by his own mind, spent a year in an insane asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and died far too young of his own hand.
Yet his paintings are sublime….
Personally I think genius and madness are often linked, and Van Gogh’s bold and dramatic strokes, his intense use of color and the way his paintings seem to move and flow certainly reflect that. There is nothing quite like him and the immersive experience is all about that expression.
For the majority of our visit we sat in a large room where the story of Van Gogh unfolded around us in movements and transitions through his work (with music and words to accompany). The “add-on” option to all this was a VR headset experience where you literally go inside his story and move through the places he painted. Both are kinetic experiences, both literally and figuratively.
We enjoyed both and although I wouldn’t call it mind-blowing, we truly had an enjoyable visit. In particular I’d never tried VR before, so it was a pretty trippy experience, albeit a little unnerving and motion-destabilizing too. And it really was fun to see all Van Gogh’s paintings in such large formats.
A very cool, immersive outing!
My Foot Is Transforming
Speaking of living art, I imagine you are all dying to know how my foot is doing since my epic tumble and twist last week.
Well, I think you’ll be happy to hear it’s reduced back to normal size and I can now walk/limp more or less like a normal person. However I still have some pain driving, can’t walk long distances and am having to watch in horror as my skin tests the yet-to-be-released (altho’ I’m sure it’ll be madly popular) Reptilian Pantone color range.
Over the space of 7 days my foot has transitioned from translucent greens to dirty purples and muddy browns. I would take a picture and share on the blog, but a friend of mine pointed out that the colors sounded rather vomit-inducing and after reflecting on the matter for a few days I had to agree she was right.
Perhaps not the tone we want to set here…
Inspired by Van Gogh however I have decided to “own it”, so yesterday I painted my toenails purple in a bold and artistic flash of color inspiration. It was a minor pleasure and a small measure of control in a matter over which I have none. Much like a chameleon I’ve decided to adapt to my environment, and much like an artist I’ve decided to enjoy the colors for what they are.
Kinda fitting, no?
Polly Is Adapting Too
I haven’t talked much about our old lady recently, but Polly is thriving in her rural life here in SW France and this week she showed us just how much she has adapted.
Polly has always had a strict routine that she has worked tirelessly (her entire life) to keep us in line with. Walks, food and snacks are all carefully scheduled events and if we happen to mess up the “guilty eye” stare has been honed to a fine art. In fact she’s become an expert at the latter, so much so that if I’m reading in bed and a feeling of deep unease suddenly comes over me, 9 times out of 10 it’ll be because Polly is standing at the door staring me down for a meal that’s a few minutes overdue.
Alfred Hitchcock could have done something with that, I tell you…
But our girl is really just a gentle old soul and she’s been loosing her sight as she ages too, so she mostly sniffs her way forward these days. Walks that used to be brisk multi-km trots are really just putz-n-sniff strolls now, and the search for food is a nose-forward job where she skims the floor and the top of the kitchen counter with her snout for tasty morsels that may-accidently-drop-from-heaven. Her eyes may be poor, but her nose is so good that we have to be careful to keep things she shouldn’t eat out of reach….just in case.
Which is why we got rather concerned when her stomach acted up earlier this week.
Suddenly she seemed to be doing poorly, not physically mind you, but with what was coming out the other end if-you-get-my-drift. For days we scratched our heads on what might be going on, scrutinized what we were feeding her, worried she might have caught a bug somewhere or eaten something bad on her walk. It wasn’t until one morning where she was conspicuously missing that we finally figured it out.
As usual the door was open to let in the cool morning air, and Polly was outside. Today she wasn’t asleep on the tiles however. Her nose had woken her up and led her towards the veggie patch which had an enticing, new scent. Something sweet was there, rows upon rows of it, and although she couldn’t really see what it was, she knew it had to be good. She sniffed around to locate the absolute best-smelling morsel and then tested with her mouth, wrapping her teeth around the oblong treat. A quick tug and much to her delight and surprise, it popped right off. Mmmmmm….juicy and delightfully tasty…in handy ready-made-for-doggie-snack-form no less. This was going to be fun!
When we found her she had a half-eaten tomato in her mouth and a look of absolute joy and innocence in her cloudy eyes.
“Check out at all this free candy” she seemed to say
Our discovery explained a lot. Not only the many ripe tomatoes that had gone missing over the past week, but also the half-eaten ones we’d found in the potager and the subsequent doggie stomach issues. Clever girl, is all I could say, clever girl.
If that’s not a dog that’s adapted to country life, I don’t know what is LOL.
Thus, We Come Full Circle
Like a spiral that reaches its end, or a mandala that’s finally complete we come back to the beginning of my blog and the immersion that has been.
There are clouds on the horizon tonight and more hints of rain, but also the possibility of another heatwave ahead. It’s hard to believe we’re already near the end of August and yet the taste of June is still with us. Perhaps the weather, just like me, sometimes goes in circles to come back to where it’s supposed to be? I’ll leave you with that thought, and a vision of the Pyrenees because the mountains always sooth me no matter which way things are going. Hopefully they will for you too.
OK my blog-loving friends I’m dying to know. Do you paws eat anything odd, or weird that they shouldn’t do? Have you caught them in the act? Do you have to hide certain things? DO share your paw-stories below. I know they’ll make us all happy.