Where do our thoughts escape to? The wondrous one that snick out while we languidly watch the sea change its colors? The pressing ones that run away as soon as our mind got caught in the seagull’s wing. The long forgotten ones that elope us before we even blink the sun away. Where do they go? Seek refuge in the seashells? Ride the foam of the waves? Or hide underneath the beach chairs only to come out again at day’s end. To balance the fading daylight. To relish into the solitude of the beach. To hide between their own folk.
Last holiday I let the light slip through my fingers as we strolled along the beach. I took these pictures between 18:17 and 19:43 in Mamaia Holiday Resort, by the Black Sea.
I’ll leave you with the fading light and the sea’s ever changing face – and its secrets.
Long after sunset the forgotten thoughts, and the escaped ones, plunge into the sea. As they dive right below its surface their sinuous backs from the waves we see at night, thick and sluggish. They dive in and out and, thus, the slow white crests of midnight waves are born. Sometimes the bathing thoughts forget themselves in their merrymaking and never come out and thus, in the morning, the sea is gray like petrol and the lifeguards raise their red flag, marking a hazardous beach. For they know, they’ve seen it happening, bathers vanishing in those calm, thick waters – although no sea predators were ever spotted. Except for sea-currents circling underneath. But you and I know; those are the long-forgotten thoughts, looming in waiting.
Bones are the very last of our earthly traces and a proof of the existence of life itself. Bones symbolize that life is indestructible and they symbolize resurrection too (in Jewish tradition). Yet bones constantly remind us of our own mortality and of our feeble presence in this world.
Ahead of Halloween, I invite you to join me in a contemplation of death, life and immortality as we walk through the Catacombs of Paris. And down we go. 20 meters underground.
This ossuary, containing the remains of millions of Parisians, is not what one might imagine, even after researching and viewing various images online. A lifeless, gloomy, never-ending labyrinth. Life is suddenly a precious commodity here. These pictures have not been altered.
And even further we go. There is no turning back now…
The Catacombs of Paris are a time-travel place no one bargained for:
Feels like “Death lived there and none of them wanted to meet her that night.”
“Ils furent ce que nous sommes, Poussière, jouet du vent; Fragiles comme des hommes. Faibles comme le néant.”
“They were once as we are now, Dust, trinkets in the wind; As fragile as humankind. As frail as the void.”
Human bones are light ivory with a touch of brown, but when exposed to soil and natural pigments or minerals in the soil they change color. I stand 1m 65cm tall. This mountain of human bones and skulls was at my eye level, nearly touching the ceiling of the Parisian Catacombs:
And further we go, quietly.
Which way? Death is all around us. Overpowering.
“his black robe swaying with every step like a death flag…”
Dressed today only in russet and sepia, underneath a cloak of raindrops, Autumn painted her lips scarlet to match her passion for life. Whoever said Autumn if full of dead lives hasn’t seen her jumping through puddles.
The chestnut had stripped off its prickly shield for a luscious maroon and blushed a scarlet, thinking herself to be the sunset. For looking down, the chestnut thought she was the cause of the russet, parchment-like leaf… And Autumn sighed.
I saw Autumn lighting up leaves like some russet, amber and scarlet candles to celebrate the approach of Winter. The days are shorter, yet there is no loss in the Fall, but a celebration of what is to come. For tomorrow would be nothing without today.
Perhaps Fall painting her leaves scarlet is her way of reminding us that, even in the Autumn of our lives, we are still beautiful…
Hard to think of scarlet and not to end with “letter” or visualize Autumn leaves floating away with my thoughts… Yet scarlet, originated in the Persian saqalāt, was in Medieval Europe a high-priced, luxury, woolen cloth.
Which autumn color is your favorite? I hope you will return for more colors, seasonal posts and dog stories for all.
It has been a long, crimson battle for the shaggy warrior, but he won it. Nevertheless, the carmine bodies of his opponents, the Autumn’s subjects, littered the ground.
Drenched in memories of bloody battlefields, sentencing childbirths and sin, Crimson sank at Autumn’s feet. Hand picked by Her and entrusted with her most prized possession, her leaves, Crimson now looks up, in the symphony of life.
Never have the carmine or crimson colors been happier as this Autumn!
Above, russet leaves, hushed tones, their veins facing the road, trembling in anticipation. In a tornado of horse power and diesel a Ferrari flashed by, crimson, as if pulled by the ray of sun caught in its glass. And leaves, like paparazzi, followed.
Dating back to Roman times and the Middle Ages when it was accepted as payment, the crimson or carmine dye was first made from the body of the female kermes (Atabic qirmiz), a tiny red insect.
Carmine pigment is not very stable unless it is stored in dry place and it fades even under incandescent illumination.
Kermes (carmine) is mentioned in the Old Testament and it was used in the Americas for dyeing textiles as early as 700 B.C.
Example of carmine used in art:
Titian depicts the biblical scene (John 20:17) where Mary Magdalene recognizes Christ after his Resurrection. Christ comforts Magdalen but asks her not to touch him as he will ascend to Heaven soon. Noli me tangere is Latin for “let no one touch me.”
Do return to my blog for more colors and seasons. You can subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a post.
If you’re lucky you get to witness Autumn capturing the last heat of the summer’s sun in its deep yellow leaves. Gamboge canopy. Powdery like saffron, spicy like mustard.
Dressed-up in her best sepia, with eyes of mustard gamboge, the cat thought of herself as one of Autumn’s leaves as she purred among amber and crimson. Now… the bird will come.
Gamboge fills up my mouth when I say it. So fitting to describe autumn’s vivid yellows!
Gamboge arrived to us from Latin gambogium. It most probably has ties with the gum resin extracted from trees and used as a yellow pigment in art, trees of southeast Asia. Initially, the resin is orange-brown, but it becomes bright yellow when turned to powder.
Yes, gamboge, also spelled camboge, is family with the noun cambugium, most probably deriving from Camboja, the word Portuguese seafarers used for Cambodia in 1600. Cambodia is one of the countries where the trees producing gamboge are indigenous.
Masterful use of gamboge in art: Rembrandt’s portrait of his beloved wife Saskia van Uylenburgh as Goddess Flora, 1634.