A Morning in Bayeux

Oh, what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day!

This song sparks memories of a beautiful morning we enjoyed in the Normandy town of Bayeux. Spared by bombing in WWII, this village lies just 4 miles inland from the D-Day beaches. It boasts cobblestone streets and buildings that are hundreds of years old.

We decided to join the locals and walk to the Saturday morning market. We made a friend along the way, too.

The town square comes alive for these markets, with splashes of bright color everywhere.

I’m sure the French folks can tell from our accented “Bon jour” that we don’t live here, but everyone greets us warmly and we mingle happily. People shop with children and pets in tow.

You can find flowers, scarves, clothing, bags.

And the food – oh, the food.

This calls for a picnic! Fruits and cheese, of course. Choosing cheese is serious business. I recommend the camembert. It melts in your mouth.

Then, it’s on to the bread store down the street. Isn’t baking bread one of the best smells?

A little sweetness to top off our lunch.

We bagged up our purchases and headed out enjoy the countryside. Oh, what a beautiful day!

How about you? Have you spent a delightful morning discovering a new place?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The last photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Dreamlike. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the song is “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

Searching for Flowers

I must have flowers, always, and always.
                                   -Claude Monet

Do you have flowers where you live? Here in southern California, the drought has turned places that should be green and flower-filled into patches of dried grass. The yellow wild flowers bloomed early in the season and are nearly gone. I’ve been watching the agapanthus buds shoot up lately around my house, ready to bloom in the next few weeks. But today I got home to find the construction crew working on my neighbor’s roof trampled a bunch of the plants today. When I told the carpenter that made me sad, his response was to complain about the complicated job. So it’s not a stellar year for flowers, but I did find beauty in a nursery where the plants get tender care, plenty of water, and lots of love. The purples and touches of yellow were exquisite.

I’ll take beauty where I can find it this season. Some years are more colorful, less weighed down with trouble. Still, even in this dry spring, the wonder of a flower  is worth searching out.

How about you? What’s blooming where you live?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The first is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Dreamlike.

The Flower Fields

On a hill above the Pacific Ocean, acres of cheerful ranunculus flowers wave in the sea breeze each spring. Starting with red and yellow blooms, the original owner of the fields cultivated a variety of colors grown today.

For a few months, visitors can wander the hillside and enjoy the 50 acres of flowers. The day I visited, all ages were captivated by the beauty.

The reds, purples, and pinks caught my eye. These are known as the “Luther Gage Giant Tecolote Ranunculus.” So some of the flowers are larger than you expect.

This year the crop is smaller than usual, due to unseasonal winter heat. We had days in the 90s in January, withering some of the baby plants. How fragile flowers are. Still, acres of beauty decorate the fields.

And when they appear for such a short time, we want to take it all in and remember when the fields lie fallow. Even one single bloom is so intricate and full of wonder.

Isn’t that the way with so many good things in life? We want to remember to savor all the joy no matter how short its season.

How about you? What flowers are blooming this season where you live?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The photo of the antique tractor is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Still.

Hoping for Peace . . . Still

The one thing we’re all waiting for, is peace on earth and an end to war,
It’s a miracle we need, the miracle, the miracle,
Peace on earth and end to war today,
That time will come one day
You’ll see when we can all be friends.

                                                                          Queen

Peace on earth calls for a miracle, doesn’t it? The War to End All War was WWI, fought 100 years ago. How sadly mistaken that optimism proved to be. Still, we can hope for a miracle. Recently we visited the National WWI Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s a sobering, inspiring, moving place. You enter on a glass bridge set over a field of red poppies.

Red poppies are a symbol of remembrance from WWI, based on the poem by John McCrae:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Inside the museum, we found canons, grenades, helmets — all the accoutrements of war.

The basis for the phrase “The War to End All War” is on display. Turns out it’s a book by H. G. Wells. That he was wrong, and all the believers in this notion along with him, makes us sad.

The museum is not without lighter moments. Here is an envelope mailed to a soldier on the front from his family in Ohio. Someone in the family used drawing talent to cheer on this loved one.

Looking at some of the faces of those at war, we note how very young they were when they served.

A memorial to those lost in the war from this area stands just outside the museum. Dedicated shortly after the war, the memorial can be seen from quite a distance.

The museum, built in recent years, was declared a national memorial only last year. The exhibits use technology to teach us about The War to End All War. If you’re in the area, this museum is well worth a visit.

It’s a reminder that we can hope for the miracle of peace on earth . . .still.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The photo of the radio is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Chocolate. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the song is “The Miracle” by Queen.

Soaking Up the Sun

I’m gonna soak up the sun . . .
                Sheryl Crow

Spring, sun, and warming days have come to Kansas. On a visit last week, the transition from winter’s bare branches to spring’s color was evident and so fascinating to this California girl (where sun is pretty much a constant). The trees wait for green to sprout, but on bushes the green unfurls.

The tulips that herald the new season did not disappoint. Color burst up from the ground everywhere.

The buds promise more blooms to come.

Meanwhile the trees decorated Kansas City in lovely white and pink.

I learned that tulips grow on tulip trees. Most of the delicate blossoms blew off the trees in a recent storm, but a few hang on.

The most striking herald of spring for me is the forsythia bushes, ablaze in yellow.

This week in Kansas we enjoyed the sun, taking long walks around the neighborhood and in parks. It’s obvious that spring is arriving, but the starkness of winter is alongside the new life.

Buds will open with time and more sun.

Isn’t this a picture of life for most of us? Troubles have stripped some branches bare, but love and warmth and care nurture budding beauty. Life holds the promise of the new, the potential for blooming. A storm may strip the young blooms, but more are on the way.

How about you? How is spring looking where you live? Does life hold some welcome budding joys?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The photos of the white pear trees are edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Dreamlike. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the song is “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow.

The Roman Colosseum — Masterpiece of Stone and Brick

Another brick in the wall . . .
                          Pink Floyd

Where have I seen wall on wall of bricks? The title of this Pink Floyd song immediately brought to mind our visit to the Colosseum in Rome. So many bricks, so many walls, such a vast and fascinating place.

The Colosseum, a world landmark, sits in the middle of Rome, visited by masses of people year round. Construction started in AD 70 and finished about 20 years later. Today, this grand structure is officially a ruin. Stones, bronze, and bricks were “borrowed” through the years, leaving the Colosseum without some of the top level. The roof over the gladiator dressing area is long gone. The ruined nature of the Colosseum adds to the romance and intrigue.

Here’s a description of what went on here, according to the museum on site:

“The spectacle day began in the morning with the presentation of all the participants. This was followed by the hunts, in which hunters tackled wild animals lurking among sets replicating the geographical contexts from which they came. During the lunch interval, when executions took place, the condemned, naked, and unarmed faced the wild beasts which would eventually tear them to pieces. During the intervals there were performances by jugglers, acrobats, and magicians. . . . Finally, gladatorial combats were held in the afternoon.”

Here’s a rendering of what the Colosseum may have looked like in its heyday.

It’s evident that thousands upon thousands of bricks were laid in complex patterns.

The top level is being rebuilt. Scaffolding lines part of it, and a bit of it recently reopened to tourists.

A platform reaches over part of the bottom level and holds groups of people.

We were able to join a tour with this lovely Italian young lady as our guide.

She took us below the main level, where we got to picture what the gladiators saw as they entered the arena.

Our guide pointed out that some of the blocks and bricks overhead hold together without mortar. I think I walked pretty quickly under these freestanding giant stones, but they have been hanging there for centuries so far.

If you visit the Colosseum today, you learn that scholars are still trying to piece together its history. We know that people and animals died here, and that gladiators fought bravely, both by force and by choice. If only these bricks could talk, what stories they could tell . . .

How about you? Have you visited a historical place that piqued your imagination?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Some photos are edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Organic. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the song is “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd. The song actually has nothing to do with real bricks, but I’m taking just the title for this post.

A Day with the Daffodils

It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away . . .
It’s a beautiful day.
                                   U2

What says spring better than wild daffodils popping up on hillsides, waving their happy faces? In the mountains near my home, pine trees stand guard over cheery groups of daffodils. Residents of the Julian area planted hundreds of bulbs through the years, ensuring a riot of color each spring. You can drive back roads in search of blooms shooting up through the ground willy nilly.

They grow right alongside barbed wire fences. You think, “I see. No matter how sharp and hurtful life is, the barb can’t extinguish delicate beauty, color, and wonder.”

I ended my day with a visit to the town hall, where a show of cultivated daffodils amazed me. I didn’t know all these colors of daffodils existed.

Capturing the these flowers with my camera is my way of savoring the day, of not letting it get away.

Spending a beautiful day in the fresh air with the little daffodils restored my spirits.

So how about you? Have you enjoyed a “beautiful day” lately?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The photo of the daffodil festival is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Felicity. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where we choose our own theme song this week; I’ve chosen “A Beautiful Day” by U2.

Random 5 Friday — the Almost-Spring Edition

Spring is only a few days away! Here are my 5 randoms as we usher in the season of sun and warmth and renewed life.

1. The photo of the 2 bicycles is a happy accident. If I had tried to plan a shot of 2 bicycles moving opposite directions with 2 young girl riders and a pup in a basket — well, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Isn’t this fun?!

2. I’m super excited for spring because I have visits planned to both my daughter and my son. We’re flying to Kansas City and later to Saginaw, Michigan. I can’t wait to see so many of the people I love dearly. And to top it off, we’re meeting my granddog pup Huntley. Here he is in the snow. We hear he loves to swim in water, too.

3. I recently read the book, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carre. What a magnificent story of deceit and intrigue. The twist at the end amazed me. Some say that this book from the 1960s is the model for many spy stories. Now I’m reading A Murder of Quality by the same author. If you enjoy elegant writing, a puzzle of a plot, and characters who come alive, you will enjoy le Carre’s books.

4. Recently I went shopping for a tripod. The one I have is so old that I’m not finding a way to attach my camera. Do you use a tripod sometimes? Often? Do you travel with one that’s not too heavy to lug around? The camera shop expert recommends this one. Any advice?

5. A big thank you to Nancy for reopening her blog and once again hosting this enjoyable link-up. Nancy, I’ve missed you and your writing and your beautiful dogs. I’m so happy that you’re BACK!

So how about you? What are up to this week as we officially welcome spring?

Linking up with Random 5 Friday.

Here Comes Spring

Is spring visiting your corner of the world? When I arrived at the neighborhood lake, I found sunny yellows in wild bloom. Spring officially starts the end of this week — and the warm temps here have ushered it in with all its glory. [It was 91 degrees today; I could do with a cooling trend any time now . . .] Fresh air, sun, a slight breeze, and colors strewn all around made me smile.

The day proved perfect for a little fishing . . .

or strolling with a friend.

So how about you? Are you seeing welcome signs of spring?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The last photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Chocolate.

 

 

Stormy Weather in Cinque Terre

Five little towns known as Cinque Terre cling to the west coast of Italy. The history of these communities goes back to the 1100s. The people living here today have known their share of stormy weather. They remember well the massive rainfall in 2011 that caused flooding and mudslides that buried the ground floor of so many structures. People and cars were swept out to sea. Digging out from the mud took a while, but today all five towns are open to tourists and are thriving once again.

Fishing is a healthy industry . . .

and the homegrown tomatoes and homemade pesto sauce make the best pizza you can find anywhere.

Running around in the rain here, we couldn’t help but think about how vulnerable Cinque Terre is to the weather. The tall hills where grapes, tomatoes, and other crops grow are so steep that they serve as a funnel when too much rain falls. Since 2011, a better system of drainage allows streams to flow under or beside the streets to carry the water to the sea. Still, some hiking paths on the hills are closed. We were warned not to hike even on the open trails during rain.

Once you see how these towns are built, you wonder what miracle allows these houses, shops, and castles to remain perched precariously on the hills.

During a storm, beaches sit deserted, with umbrellas closed tight. Boats bob in the water, waiting for the weather to clear.

One of the towns, Monterroso, has visible wire netting in place to hold back rock slides.

By afternoon, the sun shone and we were able to hike in the hills above Manarola. But we will always remember Cinque Terre as a fragile place, cobbled together through hundreds of years with whatever’s at hand. Let’s hope it’s strong enough to survive at least another century or two.

How about you? Have you visited a place that’s existence seems especially fragile?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first deserted beach photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Storm.

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