Tuesday, September 05, 2006



It is a hazy morning, and an orangey light is infusing the bedroom. The blush of autumn is just under the skin of the sky, and the greens are lightening towards lime….

I have four days at home before the next leg of the tour in Bremen. We decide we cannot miss out on one like this and, with print packing done early for the day, we prepare to cycle off into the vineyards heavy with their dusty blue-black fruit. I have pumped up the tyres of our bikes, purchased 5 minutes after we got engaged, and my bum is on the saddle ready to roll. Julian appears, but something has changed. His face, rather than the sensual one I woke next to and which drank fresh pear and nectarine juice with gusto, is black as thunder. He jerks his leg over the bar and I ask what’s up.

“I’m angry. I don’t want you to go away again.”

The rest of the Indian summer’s day is spent under a thunder-cloud. To a turtle it feels like a wasted day, but to the thunder cloud there is no choice; we are just waiting for the rain. However, the rain doesn’t come. It’s cold. Trying to pierce the cloud with a needle only prolongs the intensity of the freeze. Somewhere underneath there are probably tears but this one looks to be like a dry storm. No running out into the road and splashing around in joyous thanks for the monsoon.

It is true that it is harder and harder to go away. I know that, for example, in the week I will be in Germany, that fuzzy little tree in the distance will turn from mere green to bright zesty lime and the field of cherry trees in front to amber, forming the perfect St Clements’ landsape. The vine and flat peaches will peter out and the ceps and greengages will move into their spot. Most frustrating, however, is that I only have time to write the necessary letters for crappy hoover refunds and lost cheques, and I'm gone. We only just brush against our rhythm à deux.

For Julian it is apparently even harder to be left over and over again, and to be expected to open up for 72 hours just because I happen to breeze through. There are tiles to be uprooted in preparation for hemp floor number three, there are stone floors for the gallery to be checked out, there are canvasses to be moved to make way for some thoughts about the eventual shape of the ‘arrière-cuisine’, there are electricity cables to be pulled through, but above all there are orange lit days, moonlit nights, ceps, greengages, and flat and vine peaches to be shared.

Our friends arrive for dinner. Luckily, we are allowed to be ourselves with them. We start with a fresh chevre cheese each from the market drizzled in truffle honey (a trick I learned in an Italian bar in Salzburg). Then there are tiny tomatoes bursting into peppery local olive oil, followed by pork pot roasted with our neighbours’ bay leaves. Then there is a midnight blue platter of Muscat grapes and figs. We all argue a bit – enough to feel normal - but we laugh too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh..the age old question...how does one, do two really, find a balance between one's own individualism and the needs of the two entwined? Reading your post and having somewhat recently broken off a six year relationship, I have perhaps a bit of a different perspective. We couldn't figure it out, never lived together. But to have someone to come home to, or someone coming home to me...that is so romantic! I envy you so! I think it's vital not to lose one's own passions, or give them up, for the sake of the relationship. Because I think then you lose a piece of yourself. It all comes down to what is most important, doesn't it? What are you willing to sacrifice? What is he? What are you both willing to give? He is angry because he misses you, it would seem, and because of the interuptions to the groove you get into when home, yes? You are blessed with a difficult problem, good luck!

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Kate said...

The last line of Anonymous's comment says it all. The very existence of this kind of a thing, frustrating and confusing though it can be, is a blessing right there. How glorious it is to be bathing in so much love (and orange lit days) that this all matters enough to have written the post.

I bought a big chunk of Courge de Provence at the market this morning and thought of you and how much I'm looking forward to your autumnal posts, with pictures of pumpkins, sunsets, vines and leaves and yummy descriptions of your seasonal table!

2:01 PM  
Anonymous darci said...

my fiancé has been intrigued by julian's work since the days of posting on "deviantart" and together we've enjoyed viewing his paintings and the birth of postcards from provence. what intrigues ME more, though, is your eloquent writing style, or more aptly, your ability to capture the adventure of day-to-day living. we live in portland, oregon, and over the years we've become restless in the confines of city life. within a year we will both be graduated from university, but oh, how we dream of the day when we can look out and see only four legged neighbors and hear only the sounds of birds bathing and vegetables growing. ahhh, how the stars must look at night! but no, until then, we will count ourselves lucky for having the pacific coast at our fingertips and the columbia river gorge in our back pocket, and that little market close by that sells garlic stuffed olives until midnight, every night. and of course, your blog...what a lovely way to silence the traffic.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Bitterroot said...

Ruth, I have been reading your blog for nearly a year. I am a silent reader, one who makes few comments. However, your last few posts have galvanized me into telling you that I consider your blog to be a work of art. Your descriptions of your music are lyrical. Your honest and unflinching assessment of the human condition and its conundrums is powerful. And your sense of place is unparalleled. Your creativity in so many realms - the written word, the musicality, the response to art - is always a joy to read and I just want to thank you for sharing your life so fully.

Thank the gods for the Internet, which allows us to connect at levels heretofore unknown!

(P.S.) The previous deleted post was mine; I made a slight edit but had to delete the whole first post in order to make one minor change.

5:50 AM  
Blogger ruth said...

thank you anonymous for pointing out the beauty in the problem - it's always lurking somewhere!

and Kate, yes the courge.....can't beat last year's pic of that!

darci, thank you for your kind words and anything that can silence the traffic has to be a good thing. I am honoured! But then Pacific....that's my kin' o' dream!

and bitterroot, thank you so much for your support! I am currnetly trying to write something I hope might be a book some day and at a complete standstill. You have inspired me to plough on and perhaps take that writing course I have always wanted to take.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Kathleen said...

would you be who you are if you didn't do what you do?

I've struggled with that for some time. Music is such an integral part of me that, well, I think I wouldn't.

As usual, a beautiful and thought-provoking post, though. Please do write a book. I'll buy it.

12:35 PM  
Blogger MB said...


8:25 PM  
Anonymous deb said...

Ahhhh... It sounds as if Julian hates to have the perfect balance and harmony he and you share to be upset - if episodically.

Rhythm... and blues.

3:54 AM  
Blogger mbcorso said...

You know I love your work and Julian's paintings. Please don't take a writing course! Stay with your own style. As a member of a writers' group, I can tell you that here's the best you'll get from a course and it's universal.
1. Avoid passive tense most of the time.
2. Use strong nouns and verbs.
3. Develop power language.
4. Find your own voice and use it. (You have that one nailed!)
I would hate to think that anyone would critique your melodic style and discourage you in any way.
An editor will clean up any small details of lack of clarity or such. They are ruthless (oh, my what a pun!). Any publishing company should jump on any manuscript you submit -- or even the query letter with a few chapters!
Anyway, bless both of you! You are two strong individuals who have found each other. If you want life to give you more time together, you may be able to make that happen eventually. The future is an open door! Walk through it with love and unity. I do think artistic people have more difficulty adjusting to each other because they are so emotionally involved with life. Do rocket scientists really feel that deeply? I doubt it.
Enjoy autumn; I live in Virginia which has much the same weather as Provence, and I, too, and am looking for autumn's nip, pumpkins, mums, and those luscious cerulean blue skies.

12:15 AM  
Anonymous krista said...

Dear Ruth,
I ran across your blog the other day and I have to agree with the others above that you have a beautiful style of writing.

Just this morning I got a very upsetting email from my partner. We have been together for almost four years, with much of that time being a sort of long-distance, commuting relationship. It seemed as if we were going to make it through, but the time apart has taken its toll; all of the lonliness and hurt that each of us felt as the other (quite justifiably) pursued a career away solidified into a thing that now stands between us. Even though we love each other madly there is a bitterness for wasted time and lives that feel as thought they were put on hold. Perhaps it is actually depression, or it may be something else. Whatever it is, my darling cannot take it any longer. He is a beautiful soul, a wanderer, speaker of dead languages, heart of a child. I will miss him deeply. Just a note from someone who could not make it work.

I dont mean to imply anything about your relationship with the above post. I just thought that it was fitting to post since I only discovered your blog at about the same time that my relationship was dissolving. You share details of your life, so I thought I would let you in on mine.

2:47 PM  

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