Monday, August 14, 2017

Wild and precious summer....

Morning glorious hillside. photo by Mary M Payne

I have decided that summer is for taking a vacation without going anywhere.     I resist traveling and in high season especially.   And as I have said before , the Cote d'azur is one of the most stunning vacation destinations in the world.    

  So to stop worrying about the state of the planet and to make summertime special I do a bit of toned down holiday making here at home. 

 One afternoon last week I went into town to do   an errand and to search out a gelato at the new spot called Grom.  This gelataria, originally from Torino, has come to France.  They have opened in cap 3000 and also at 6 place Massena on the zone "pietonne".    Their chain of shops claims to use only pure, fresh ingredients : no food coloring, preservatives or fillers.   The  intense "chocolato" with a scoop of "limone" combo is divine.  

When my mother was 83 years old, she came to visit Monsieur and I in Milan.  Every afternoon while there (before she and I took off for Rome and Assisi on the train), my mom would inquire,  "is it gelato time?" and off we would go to a special "gelataria" on Via Solferino.  The chocolate/limone duo was our favorite. 

  Braving the Pietonne in Nice on a midsummer afternoon,  one is tossed in with a host of visitors wandering aimlessly, or so it seems... in search of "je ne sais quoi".   

  Some of the husbands look lost and resigned, some of the young girls are dressed for a party with quite high heels... (awkward when the asphalt is melting).   Everyone has that "baked on the beach" look.    Sometimes it looks nice, sometimes it looks painful.   

   Of course lots of buying and eating is going on which everyone knows is an essential part of a proper holiday.   It is suffocatingly hot but folks are insisting on having the ultimate holiday experience without looking frazzled.  Aside from two old girls at Grom playing cards with a tiny electric fan in front of each of them, it didn't appear that they were succeeding.  

  I won't be wandering into Nice again during summer afternoons. each his own pleasures.  

Here is my own list for the summer holiday. 

 And I don't mean my bucket list, a term whose  origins must derive from "before I kick the bucket" which in turn comes from the days when we hung people to death.  Lovely. 

    No, this is a "to do list" to change things for summer and yes, before I die is included in that.  

1.  Go to the beach early some mornings to dip in the Mediterranean and enjoy the glassy sea before the crowds arrive.    

2.  Stay outside and enjoy breakfast for an hour in the mornings.  Sit and talk to Monsieur, about this and that which includes how lucky we are that the weather is working in our favor here in Nice.   It is getting cooler with less humidity this week.  

3.   Enjoy Monsieur's special "Sacred Sunday" brunch.   Eat my fill of summer fruit...peaches, nectarines,  golden "sugar kiss "melons; wild, small green mangos from Cameroon and huge and crisp Sicilian green grapes. 

Monsieur's special omelette, photo by mary m payne

4. Lie out on the terrace under the shade of the trumpet vine in a bikini.   Take a cool drink, sunscreen, and a trashy novel.  Use the spray bottle to cool off or go sit in the tub for a few minutes and then go back out.  (I already discovered that Mozzi, the hedonistic fur person loves this.  He hogs the mattress when I take a break).  The trashy novel is Jackie Collins that someone left under my gate.   It takes me away from the real problems of the world. 

5.  Work on a special project in the art studio.  

6.  Spend time updating my music library.  Right now I am listening to" Blue Camel",  an interesting mix of traditional Arab music walking a thin line into jazz.  It is not Arab music forced into the way jazz is made, but is not entirely traditional either.  I like it.   Included in the instruments is the Oud ( I must tell Olivier P.... who handcrafts these Instruments and collects oud music).   

7.  Dance with Monsieur to jazz ( which is ever present here in our house.)  I just discovered what a fun dancer he is.   I had given up this idea too soon, it seems.   And one thing leads to another.  

8.  Sleep in my tent in the backyard.  Listen to the sounds of the night. 

9.  Get my bike tire repaired so I can do some early morning biking. 

10.  Try new summer recipes like cold tomato soup with basil and pita/garlic croutons. 

11.  Have lunch out along the way with friends.  Take in the jewel-like Mediterranean coastline of which we are all so boastful.  Step out a bit and make sure that all of my summer frocks get used at least once before being put away again. 

12.  Have a cooling summer drink while watching an old movie.  My specialty, learned from Martha, is a variation of a "lemon drop".  She and I have it with or without the sugar rim and make it just with sparkling water, vodka and plenty of fresh lemon juice.  

 Right now the movie we are watching is called "The Tycoon", written by Harold Pinter and directed by Elia Kazan.... with excellent performances from everyone.

13.  Try some of Monsieur's rare green teas at room temperature.  It's like drinking flowers.  A connoisseur's idea of iced tea. 

My garden steps , Zyosia grass on right.  Cycas on left.  Photo by Mary m Payne

14,  Sit in the garden and dig, watch and listen to the creatures. Unearth a night crawler but put him back safely.    Listen to the first ever cicadas to visit us ( in the cherry tree).   Trim a bit of the thatch of our Zoysia Japanese bumpy grass.  Gaze and wonder.   

15.  Go to one of Nice's many private beaches with a friend and sun bathe, talk, eat, drink and swim.   Take a parasol and chaise for the day. 

These are just simple ideas for enjoying "one wild and precious life".   
"Tell me what else I should have done.Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?"   

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver


  1. I love this post, Mary! thank you. I really like your list and the design of the post! a block from here in the dense city in August, early I pass morning glories growing wildly in front of a building. They were so vibrant and divine, the same blue-violet color like your flowers in the picture. I had not been around morning glories for a long long time and their shape really entranced me too. they may still be blooming and with any luck I can get a close up to share with you xoxo

    Karen Vicki

  2. Thank you Karen for the lovely response. I am just now writing about Morning glories again for an art project on my garden. They and the agapanthus and sometimes the sky itself represent this blue- violet that is so elusive to capture with photo or paint. So they are one of my favorites also.

  3. First id like to say i really enjoyed your blog -i have a list of my own in ,i too must get to the ocean before the pacific gets colder &foggier
    No.2,breakfast on my patio with the blue morning glories overhead -great idea
    No.3It would be heaven to have a sacred sunday brunch with you and my brother
    No.4,i love trumpet vines ,the little trumpets are so cute but im afraid my fat little Italian body is not getting onto a bikini
    No.5,in my studio ,giant dream catchers are the latest
    No.6,my music library sucks,although i did find a 3 tenors cd at a yard sale the other day (i love Arabic music,i will try to find that one you mentioned on amazon)
    No.7,Kerry dancing! Lo and behold!
    No.8,i will sleep on my deck with a net to keep the bugs at bay
    No.9 my bicycle sits outside ,with a basket on the front for Daisy and one on the back for Leroy ,collecting cob webs
    No.10,cold tomatoe soup,no!i think I'll have a V8
    No.11,summer frocks i too am sad that they must be put away soon
    No.12,my new summer drink ,Trader joes Pompellini -pink sparkling wine with grapefruit juice
    No.13,Kerry's rare Tea of course ,no bagged crap for him!
    No.14,my garden needs a complete overhaul ,im afraid i didnt plan for the growth -duh-a very haphazard effect ,not unlike my life
    No.15,im going to take my little teardrop trailer for an overnight stay at the beach,but with who? Love you mary

    H. S.

  4. Oh, love it. thanks for tuning in with your own list, Hope. Sounds like we are pretty much on the same page. Yes I can relate about the garden overhaul, it needs hours ...... You must show me your dream catchers. Put up a photo. I know they will be exquisite. You are a treasure as is anything you touch with your magic hands.