lean with mottled imprints
of someone’s dream-delirium
into the realm of magic.
I’ve always been fascinated with how street art, mushrooming from a tiny seed of inspiration or imagination, spill suddenly onto our streets with such swagger that you can’t help but pause in wonderment – Is this place magic? And at that moment, the transformed everyday-scape shouts YES!
In response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge “Magic“.
Some guests change our lives forever. This painting and poem are dedicated to my beloved and dearly missed cats who are no longer here, but whose love, magic and presence I carry with me always. I’m ever grateful for the privilege of having these amazing companions in my life, and for my darling new kitten who’s leaving happy paw prints all over my heart.
You may have noticed that doors are really small in Marrakesh, many of them old and rusty, with delicate designs hinting at the promise of something less banal within.
Unassuming doors are often framed by baked walls the colour of summer sunsets, made of chalk and clay.
An interesting feature is that there is often a sentinel holding the door (hodor!), casually watching passersby but really guarding her eight lives and paradise across the threshold.
If you slow down long enough to notice the purring guard and say “Salaam Aleikum“, she may bless you with a glimpse of the flourishing secret world in the dar beyond, and some respite from the heat.
As you stoop low to enter, you may be seduced by the many stone arches that seem to invite you to other possibilities, but I would recommend staying focused on getting to the promised land.
The first thing you may notice upon arriving is cool relief or the sound of a playful fountain sparkling in the shade. Colourful tiles laid out in its own beautiful language, a motionless lush garden waiting to be embraced.
If you were cunning enough to have bribed the guard with a treat, you may even be invited to sit and sip a glass of mint tea with me.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Of the many quotes inspired by Paris, this is the one I love most now. I was lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a youngish woman, and wherever I am now, and for the rest of my life, it stays with me. This is the version of the Paris I love, neither from the fleeting perspective of a tourist nor the instinctive recognition of a true Parisian. But a measured perspective of one who had enough time to explore and enjoy the ordinary beauty of this incredibly poetic city, but not so much time that the unevenly cobbled streets, that became treacherously slippery in winter and that made wearing heels an art, got taken for granted.
A quiet fireworks of sand balls appear across the beach, patterned universes of tiny planets made anew after every high tide by jubilant architects.
They roll out hope beads tirelessly, one after the other, in search of nothing but the fulfilment of nature. Yet for anyone who would pause to observe, they leave beautiful stories.
I met the Sand Bubbler Crab and her meticulous masterpieces on a calm, pristine beach in Malaysia and immediately fell in love. The perfect little bubbles forming shapes of palm trees and flowers, the small transparent worker I would have easily missed, busy rolling away the sand, unaware of the magic she creates, the stories she’s inspired! If I might be like that Sand Bubbler Crab! ❤
If you’re as fascinated as I am with these lovely creatures, here’s a wonderful article and film.
One of my favourite things to do in Paris was chiner – a word that doesn’t seem to have a precise English translation. It means bargain-hunting but for antiques or curios in flea markets (brocantes) or antique shops (some links below). I loved the unexpected discoveries, glimpses of lives that were pressed softly into objects over time and have left marks like iridescent shapes tossed about by maple leaves in the winter light.
A dizzying magic, an invitation to listen to the soul of a thing.
I spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Rue du Marché Popincourt and have brought home random things, from stray wooden rabbits and old mismatched buttons to postcards written in beautiful cursive manuscript.
I come from a place where new is always good, always better than old. We raze memory-laden landmarks and homes to build road tunnels. We don’t buy or sell second-hand anything unless we have no choice or it’s an antique that would fetch more with time. Newish bicycles, photo frames and microwave ovens are abandoned without thought. There was a hollowness in this place which I didn’t understand, until I lived in Paris where old things were cherished for their patina of stories.
Respecting and cherishing stuff beyond newness and utility. The Japanese believe that man-made things have spirits, tsukumogami, which could refer to any object “that has reached their 100th birthday and thus become alive and self-aware.” I find this belief system fascinating, and I’m persuaded it’s true.
Sharing some links if you like to chiner a.k.a story-hunting in Paris:
There are slivers of colour in my life.
The 18 months I lived in Provence, doing a lot of growing up, pushing out my edges, shutting down the well-trained conforming voice in my head, meandering from my beloved Aix-en-Provence through tiny villages from Roussillon to Jouques, knocking my heart on every sharp edge and just being alive.
I did a lifetime’s worth of learning here, under a sky so gorgeously blue it drenched my poems and dreams.
I spent long minutes gazing at wisterias heavy with violet-blue. It stops time.
Exploring weekend markets where farmers and witches meet, and you could buy sun-soaked courgette flowers (delicious when lightly battered and fried in butter) or magic herbs to flavour soups and teas or draw love to you.
Summers filled with dazzling music festivals, my most unforgettable being a magical piano recital surrounded by centenary redwoods and sycamores at the Parc du Château de Florans.
There were lonely winter days too, cocooned by the scent of thyme and honey.
Long drives down nameless country roads where when you stopped your car in the dead of night and turned off your headlights, a whole other universe came alive with a million, tiny stars and the mighty song of cicadas.
This is where I discovered the sky, listened to the whispers of the clouds swept into bold, creamy folds by the unforgiving mistral.
Where I noticed patterns in tiny pond ripples and the random gathering of dead leaves.
Today, a thousand miles and selves away, I heard my old Provençal song in a mandala of petals.