What is a vacation? By my definition, it’s a place where you go to relax and feel happy. In that case, writing is my vacation. It’s where I’m in a “flow” state, where I’m not concerned about every day tasks and feel spiritually at ease. This year I’m taking a Provence vacation as I write this novel. I imagine its countryside, its delicious food, its charming villages. Yes, I want to be there in person, but I can’t, so as I’ve mentioned before, I travel in my mind. I sit outside during the Seattle summer evenings and write. In fact, I came across this quote by Mark Twain that nicely sums up my outlook. Here it is.
The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.
I hope you can take a “vacation” by enjoying your passion this summer.
(Photo of Gordes, France by Freddie Marriage via Unsplash)
If you’d like to get updates on my writing, join my email list. Thanks!
This year on the 4th of July, my husband and I took our kids to see the fireworks show by our neighborhood lake. It was in a park where 5,000 people peacefully sat in the dark and watched pretty flowers explode in the sky. As sweet as it was to see kids and teenagers running around on a warm summer night, I couldn’t help but think of the people in Nice, France a few years ago. That crowd had also gathered to watch fireworks for their independence day, but their peace was interrupted by an attack. Still, the French are strong people and cowardly acts won’t change their way of life.
In honor of Bastille Day, I’m reposting a post I put up years ago after Paris suffered a terror attack. Because I’m a gardener, it includes plants in Paris. Here it is.
People, like plants, are resilient. We suffer shock from our wounds, we go dormant and mourn, we heal and recover, and we continue to grow as best we can despite crippling circumstances. This is why I’ve been thinking about the greenery of Paris, the plants, the secret courtyards, even the street trees. They continue to grow despite attacks, just as the Parisian people will grow despite the attack that happened in November, 2015.
In the sprawling public gardens like the Jardin des Plantes or Tuileries, you find mostly hedged boxwoods and cypress trees. These gardens are historic and formal, paying tribute to the royalty that once inhabited these places. But in the street medians and plazas, in the corner parks, beauty springs up and gives us its wild gifts. It’s in the courtyards hiding in the interiors of buildings, in a window box hanging from an iron railing, maybe even in an urn outside a restaurant. It’s even in the Gothic points of Notre Dame poking out from the fluffy canopy of surrounding trees. Hence, a few photos of natural Paris.
Empress trees in bloom at the Place de la Contrescarpe
A path down the Promenade Plantee and looking outward (below)
Chestnut tree in courtyard
Foliage along a building wall
This summer I’m writing a novel set in Provence so I’ve been dreaming about France. Since I already have a stack of books to inspire me, I thought I’d lengthen my list and join this summer’s 20 Books of Summer event. My books include both fiction and nonfiction set in Provence or elsewhere in France.
- Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard
- Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
- Jean de Florette by Marcel Pagnol
- Manon of the Spring by Marcel Pagnol
- Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie
- The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
- The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater
- The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
- The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher
- Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog by Jamie Ivey
- The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands
- Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
- L’Appart by David Lebovitz
- A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
- Death at the Chateau Bremont by M.L. Longworth
- Murder in the Rue Dumas by M.L. Longworth
- The Mystery of the Lost Cezanne by M. L. Longworth
- Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
- French Coast by Anita Hughes
- The Bar on the Seine by Georges Simenon
If you like what you read, please subscribe to my newsletter. Every month I send an update about new posts, books, gardening, travel, and what I’m writing.
Though I was born in Chicago and have spent most of my adulthood in Seattle, I’ve always felt more European than American. There’s nothing really wrong with America, it is the land of hopes and dreams and opportunity. America’s resourcefulness and belief in a better tomorrow is ingrained in me. The open friendliness of America is in me too. But in a country that looks to the future, we don’t often value the past. And I’m big into the past. The past is like a dream to me. It draws me in whether it’s a book about a historical era or an antique chair. It’s romantic and ethereal to me. Even the dark parts. The past is filled with stories of all kinds and perhaps that’s why I like it. I like stories.