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This lemon yellow morning is summer’s farewell to these mountains and forests. Rain last night refreshed and brought with it some of the mellowness of autumn. Already some of Tree’s leaves have turned yellow to match this morning’s sunlight.
I was with Tree last night, sitting and listening to Mozart’s piano sonata that the brook’s flow was sounding. The lovers’ marking at the back of the Tree’s trunk is still quite plain after a year, a neat design scored into the bark.
I was toying with other initials for this diary. Beloved becomes BO, Loved One becomes LO, both not right. Muse or BLO for Beloved One are odd as well. Perhaps My Love (ML) will have to do.
I guess what I am doing is to create my ideal world, which I aim to make real as soon as I can. As a life’s ambition, it looks achievable. It will hopefully be as this diary describes. It is like a male songbird building a nest with an open invitation for his song mate to drop in, if she likes the look of it, his feathers, or the lack of them, and his beady eyes.
Like the bird with his songs, all I have to offer is my love, but as much of it and for as long as it is needed. This beautiful mountain nest is where only love and truth can live.
It has also become my life’s experiment.
Will she come?
As I write this morning, Debussy’s piano sonata is taking me all over the place. No wonder, I look at the CD from the Alliance Francaise, played by the exquisitely named Michelangeli, and some of the tiles are: “Footsteps in the snow”, “Veil”, “Dancers of Delphi,” “Perfumes of the evening”.
The music aptly describes my day yesterday. I took my canvas and paint to Tree and spent a glorious day painting a big picture filled with autumn leaves, ablaze on the big canvas.
I am proud of my new-technology oil paint which is water-based, non-toxic and does not turn the painter into an addict of the fumes of turpentine and linseed oil. I watch its colours glow on the canvas, trying not that successfully to match the colours of Tree’s leaves. A few hidden personal images added, then it was done and offered to Tree.
In the evening, as I washed the brushes in the cold brook, I shared with Tree the understanding that love is an interesting experience. While its reward has been, and is, overwhelming, deprivation comes too. But I am true to this love, come what may, and willingly accept all its demands.
Tree understood and shook its branches, that annoying know-it-all. May it get very cold roots soon. But then, it is my only confidant, really.
La Symphonie Fantastique of Hector Berlioz was blasting away this morning to greet this new day. That, and my usual rambling stream-of-consciousness writing in my diary, lifted somewhat the end of a less productive week.
The difficult thing in this creative business is to try to know the audience that you are making work for. Until I do that, success will elude me.
It’s a wonderful morning again. “Mellow fruitfulness” is what Keats received from his English autumn days long ago.
Real expectation hangs in the still-warm morning sun rays and the summer-dwindled snow is waiting for more fluffy flakes to float down from a grey sky.
The tableau in front of the chalet lounge window is changing daily, yellow, brown and reds replacing bright green, leaf by leaf, tree by tree, hill by hill.
The little white gravel path winding up to the chalet has not been walked on at all this week. I look at the place down the little valley where it emerges from the forest and follows the brook, where any visitor to the chalet first appears in my world.
My life experiment is running.
Like Tree, my love lives here for the duration of my life, uncluttered by any other considerations. It will tell me in time what it can, or can not, achieve.
The bright yellow of the glass of orange juice by the side of the laptop contrasts nicely with the rich dark-green of the pine forest in the distance. Here and there in the forests are also bright flames of deciduous trees exploding into autumn.
On the little plate by the orange juice are crumbs from the stale croissant that I just ate for breakfast but the less said about that the better. It was like eating cardboard.
The blue painting I had just finished leans against the wall of the studio, resting from my struggle to make something of it.
In search of my Thai painting? The search continues for my own way to make Thai views extraordinary. Some way to go as yet but now and then in lucid moments, I glimpse it in glowing decorations on the wall, permanently celebrating the moment.
I caught some of the movie Snow falling on cedars on TV the other day, the book of which I have just read and definitely recommend. It was terrific to see all that snow, as it was to imagine it from the book. Its reminder of such deep love is at the same time reassuring and devastating to my personal health.
I wonder if there is another stale croissant in the breadbox?
It’s late and I am sitting at my usual place on the carpet by the couch, feeling alone. The candle has just been lit and I am lost in the shapes of the flickering fire. I am warmed by it, not from its heat but by what it stands for.
Life’s journey has meandered another week but I’m not closer to where I wish to be a week ago. It is all within my power. I have all that I need. But the puzzle pieces are still all on the carpet, the beauty of this one and that catching the eye, but the complete picture is still the glossy illustration on the box.
I am comforted now by loyalty, by love, by beauty, by truth, by Tree. When I tap into these, and I do often, my meandering road ahead seems to have fewer bends in it. There is a lot to be done but it’s strange that, with me, I could achieve the lot or very little at at all.
I talked to Tree yesterday about my ideal love, sharing the rest of my life with me. Maybe understandably, Tree was not convinced. I will just have to show it.
There is a distinct smile on Tree today. Not sure why it’s happy, or maybe I can guess. The cool clear early autumn air has already brought mellowness and clarity, like this wonderful air itself.
I am seated by the tulips again, shaking my head at their astounding colours. Some petals are on the ground, blood-red, vermillion and purple on dark brown earth. If I could paint half as well as that …
As usual, I gently pick up the petal gems and will take them inside to look at them few more days. Like this petal in my palm, I have received love’s gentle touch and I will hold on to it as a rare gift in my life. Everything may be moving on and changing but I stay put in a place that is rewarded to me.
I am comfortable with my deep feelings for My Love, and will be so for another 20 years without change.
It would be good if our fine appreciation of the best in life can be shared again in words, without emotional entanglement or even meeting. If it can’t, I shall keep growing tulips, walk to Tree in the forest and to the mountains.
My Love is all the time within me, sharing in that way all that I have.
Will she come?
I have been sitting at my desk near the balcony, opening the door so that the autumn morning cool air rolls in. Birdsongs are loud and clear too that early in the day, celebrating the brilliant summer days that are floating down to the expectant earth for another year.
Fingering away on the laptop, I have been looking back on my life too. It is, and will be, rewarding to put some of that in words on paper. What can I do with my thoughts and reflections? Who will be interested in them?
My love is fuelling much of the start of my writing. I have no undue expectations of that love. It is just there, bubbling up strongly from within me at odd moments in all places, like just now, simply to let me know that it is healthy and well and animating me further.
Long may it live.
The year is turning. Tree’s leaves are reminding me of that, and of last year’s wonderful days. Oh, the glory of it all.
It’s a morning worth waiting for. The sun streams down from the clear sky that is crystal blue. The overnight snow storm has turned the chalet’s world into a chocolate box picture where everything is covered, made pure and chaste.
The view from the balcony is stunning, as is the sharp coldness of the air, which sears the lung at every breath. I have days, weeks, months of this ahead.
On the studio wall my oil paintings are drying, some probably frozen after last night, carrying images that are finally maybe getting somewhere.
There is beauty and pathos in ordinary things and ordinary people. I will make it my job to record this, using everything that I know how to use.
In my nest, love as always cradles thoughts of My Love. There is internal debate about this and that but when it comes to it, love justifies itself. All I can do is to try to live it in anyway that am able to.
There is a real blizzard blowing this morning and all last night. Such wonder of nature inspire awe, and our own humbleness in the universe. Layers of lovely snow flakes cover all and more fall heavily from the dark grey sky.
I am snowed-in.
In this place, a hushed clearing in the dense deciduous forest, live love, beauty, truth, joy and not sadness. There is gratitude, humbleness and a standing request for forgiveness of any of my wrong-doing done in the cause of love. Tree is there to lend its strength, encouragement and longevity.
For me now, this is where my feelings in these matters are free to be themselves.
Winter’s darkness continues. Tonight, it is so utterly hushed. There is not a sound outside in the snow. I can hear my heart beating. It’s just me, snow and the universe.
My love experiment is lurching on. The way it is going, love, like most things, can not stand on its own. The deep feelings that are felt by two people apparently will readily give way to expediency and other considerations.
Not many, or maybe no one it seems, will take the courage to love. Love is readily sacrificed for “its own good.” The experiment will run on for me for some time yet and it could end with a different conclusion. As spring blossoms will soon display through the snow.
I for one have not given up. It is difficult to stay true in the absence of any sharing, response, or relationship. I will see its progress and document it, as a crucial observation of life for me.
I have obviously much to learn.
Love is teaching me painful and joyous lessons. I continue to flow with it and let it take me to places that I have never been before. Wherever I go it is with me. I will let it caress me or cut me, and bear it with as little bitterness as I can manage.
During the course of it, I will learn about love, about My Love, about myself, about truth, beauty, trust and faith.
After you, love. Please be gentle with me, if you can. I have bared my soul to you.
Awake in the early hours of a frigid morning, I luxuriate in my warm bed, strangely comforted by the work that I did yesterday. This Tree diary now shares a place in the forest with Tree itself.
Now they are free to share, to grow. No one needs to read them so they can more accurately describe the truth as they see it, just for the sake of that. just to remember a love.
I peek outside at an early morning world, all hushed dark blue and white. The sun has gone to the coast of Spain and Africa and had just left a dim grey light to last an entire short day, or a long week.
I retreat again to my snow cave, sheltered by a landscape now made more beautiful than ever by the first winter snows.
My words and images on the web pages describe the exterior of this love and suggest the interior of it. The kernel of the love is deep inside the body, slowly growing, reaching out for nutrition for that growth.
There is a lot that I would love to know about My Love. To follow a tentitive exploratory touch to an all-enfolding place, which I suspect is very rare in this life.
It has been very cold and lonely this past month since the new year. One dark, grey day merges into another, one long night slides on between brief afternoons of light. Time often stands still or trickles, like the frozen brook on the valley floor which is barely visible these days under the snow.
I go out for a walk daily, short ones sometimes as heavy snow flakes plop down silently. It is glorious. It will never be otherwise. And I share it with one person, who probably does not want to have any part of it. That realisation now opens the little window to my heart and briefly lets the winter in.
But it is my choice and no one else’s. If I don’t like the script, I should change it. But it is not an easy matter for the playwright, who is moved by the force of love and is really powerless to steer from it.
He can force himself to deny to himself his real feelings. But that would be his loss as such feelings are rare in life. So I press these close to me under my bulky jacket and happily watch the snow lay on the surface and can’t go in.
So far this experience has still not inspired good work but I feel it would not be long. I should concentrate on making it do so, as a private celebration, either shared by myself alone or, if I am fortunate, with my love.
Either way, it could be the most significant activity of my life, a testament to a person, to a love, to myself in love.
The long winter nights give plenty of time for reflection. There is also time to read and look at good films, many of which invariably reflect on my current time in life. The experiences of the authors and film-makers reaffirm for me the life-enhancing quality of love as well as the scarcity of true love.
When found and lived, this true love creates wonderful works, such as the book Silk by Alessandro Baricco that I have just read. I should let it help me produce my first stories and books, as well as better art. I think that it will. Do something that you love, and it will bring success, seems to be the experience of many. Fuelled by love, this quest should have a head start.
Before that though, or maybe always, love takes you way down as well as up, when itself seems unreachable. Then, like me, one is left wandering the extent of the life that it can make possible, if we had embraced it.
This process leaves me at least, and perhaps two other people, in a perpetual love’s limbo, with no prospect of touching solid ground. Here I am likely to be speaking of myself, as the other two may have already happily touched down and not look back.
The train station is deserted. It has been abandoned to the arctic wind that has covered the platform with snow and ice. What a morning. I am not quite sure why I am sitting here with my warmest jacket on, its collar turned up to my ears, a woolen scarf wrapped around over that. A thick wool knitted hat is keeping my balding head warm.
I have been coming here for the past few days, digging the Deux Chevaux out of the garage of Madame Lebrun, who runs the wonderful pastry and bread shop in the village, the sight and smell of which brightens the wintry street from far away.
The daily long walks down from the chalet and back through thick snow are the highlights of my recent days. On the way back up, tucked inside my bulky jacket, are a few croissants still warm from her oven, to put on the breakfast table for my friend, if she comes.
I see the lovely madame averting her eyes as I park the car again in her garage with no passenger inside. Sometimes she waves, shrugs her shoulders and gives me a knowing smile.
The train was right on time, rumbling through the pine forest covered with thick snow. At the last moment, it emerges from the forest tunnel, its motion scattering snow from the pine branches. It pulls up to the empty platform.
Today a figure in pure white ski jacket and hat steps down, carrying a small suitcase. Snow flakes float down, some collecting already on her hair. She smiles the smile of my dream which now paralyses me on the bench. As My Love approaches briskly, I struggle to get up.
“How did you know I was coming today?,” she asks.
“I didn’t. Your email said you may be around about now. You are very welcome.”
“Thank you for waiting and for letting me stay in your chalet. I really want to see it.”
We were quiet in the car on the way to the village.
“Glorious. This is what I come for,” said My Love, wide-eyed at the countryside. “But no funny business please.”
“Of course not,” I said, looking ahead.
I introduced my friend to dear Madame. She concealed her surprise and her joy very well but she was as happy as me. She gave me a bag of warm croissants and would not accept any money.
“C’est un cadeau pour votre amie,” she said with a lovely smile.
Perhaps this is a dream but as I follow my footsteps in the snow on the path back up to the chalet, My Love is beside me. The brook is mostly frozen, its familiar notes of joy are muffled.
This morning as the weak sunlight visits the couch at the corner of the living room under the window, it is shining on my visitor. She is seated with her legs comfortably stretched out, looking out to Tree and the forest under thick snow. The room is still cold but she is dressed very warmly in a lovely and stylish outfit.
“Good morning, did you sleep well,” I ask.
“Like a log, thank you. I was very tired from my trip. It was so cosy in bed. I just love being rugged up against the cold,” she says with a smile that I remember.
I can not resist sitting at my usual place on the carpet near the lounge but at a respectable distance.
My couch is not empty today!
“ We can enjoy Madame’s fresh croissants today for breakfast,” I inform my guest.
“That will be perfect,” she says, smiling gently. “ Fresh croissants will be a nice change for you. Can I go to visit Tree later?”
My peaceful world has changed. My heart suddenly wants to remind me all the time that it is there. As I walk around the chalet, I don’t really know what I am doing. I hope that my visitor has a good time.
Up early, I tried to write, but not many words came in the frigid silence, and the ones that arrived were not suitable. Instead I rested my agitated head against the armchair and watched the morning light arriving, brightening slowly the wintry garden.
In the distance, Tree stood waiting for its visit.
Well… What now, it seems to ask.
I’ll keep to my room and let my visitor enjoy my world. I’ll ask her later if she wants to walk to the cliff and lookout. I have trudged to it through thick snow and the view is simply out of this world.
I hardly saw my visitor yesterday after breakfast until dinner. She went out into the snow and headed towards Tree, her white jacket blending her into the snow, her long hair shiny, decorated with bits of snow from tree branches.
Tree will be happy today.
It will be My Love's first visit to it and I wonder what they had to say to each other. I know for certain that Tree will not reveal what passes between them to me. It enjoys keeping what it knows to itself and only tells me what it thinks I need to know which should not in any case be very much.
Then ML went off for a long walk by herself further up the mountain to the lookout that I recommended. The sun was shining so a great view would have welcomed her. I longed to go but she did not invite me.
I drew something sensitive in watercolour while sitting down and looking out to a world in white. Then I brought out My Love's gift to me of long ago, a beautiful silk cotton cloth of pearl-grey colour, so fine with its soft sheen, to be made into flowing shirts one day.
I unwrapped it for the first time and felt its smooth texture, cool to the touch. I arranged the cloth so that its folds and ripples catch the white light from outside.
If My Love and I are ever together, I’ll have it made into the collar-less shirt that I will wear to our reunion. It will stay folded and treasured all my life, if that day does not come.
I painted it in watercolour, letting my eyes glide my hand, flowing the paint on the paper. Like that paint, the flow of love guides me as it has always done.
I’ll always go with it for as long as I can because, like the weave of this cloth, I am now part of this flow and permanently meshed into it. I will probably not be so to many things else in my life ever again, so I should be content.
A candle that usually burns when I am eating is reflected in the brass pot of the steaming cheese fondue that I prepared, and twinkles the tall glasses of white wine, chilled at room temperature.
Behind these, pale candlelight glows on the face of my temporary companion complementing her astounding beauty, like a memorable evening at her house a long time ago.
A while after she quietly said goodnight, I blow out the candle and my chalet is dark once again.
All is quiet again at the chalet tonight. My world returns to its usual place with me being a small and unobtrusive part of it. I feel very lonely but that is usual. There is beauty in that. In solitude one is in touch with one’s soul with the snow, with the trees with the still night.
One’s feelings are also given space and light to flower. I write this probably for no one.
I am in love, and that is my excuse, if any needs to be given, which it does not. Love of this kind is unique in my life. I should instead be grateful for it, which I am.
It is with me as I sit at this desk and look out to the silently-falling snow. This love, with all its obstacles, enriches my life because it is with me wherever I go and keeps me company when I am lonely, as now.
Strangely, it makes me feel loved and it feels good to love another, although she is very far away and no doubt going further away.
I light a candle every night. Its soft flame calms my heart. I blow it out before bed, knowing that I can light it again tomorrow night. My hope lives with that flame.
Love is in what I photograph, paint and write. I need to keep it well rugged up, warm against the blizzard, safe from any of daily practical life’s devaluations of anything precious.
Precious it is, and precious I will keep it, come what may.