Afar, California

The Tea Garden

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There’s something gently meditative about tea gardens, with their perfume of camellia flowers, the sound of perpetually running water, and the meandering pathways. San Francisco’s is a particularly fine rendition, with carefully pruned trees, painted structures, and a pergola where you can sip the tea in question. I’ve visited a few times, the latest with an old friend on a sunny January afternoon. We wandered and reminisced and, when all our stories were told for the time being, sat quietly together in the companionable, peaceful way that only old friends can.

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Afar

Seville

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Once, many years ago, I found myself in Seville on New Year’s Eve. The day was spent wandering through fragrant orange groves and overgrown palaces, exploring the wild courtyards and gardens of the Reales Alcazares. In the evening we sat at the corner table of a crowded restaurant, near a pair of handsome Americans who shared their wine with my table of Frenchmen, while people sang Spanish songs in the distance. We watched flamenco and drank sangria until after midnight, when we wandered through the quiet, echoing streets beneath the glowing blue light of so many decorated orange trees.

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Afar, Texas

The Morning Garden

The Morning Garden, www.bluemesablog.com

I’ve been away too long. Cities and stones have their own particular charm, and my love of beautiful architecture is one of the driving forces in my life, but there’s something about a morning garden. I like to walk out just as the sun is coming up, when it skims golden along the top of the grass, or early on days when the sounds are muted by mist, or cool and dewy mornings where everything glistens. I like to go every day, really, to watch the subtle changes of the seasons, to see what’s blooming and what’s fading. I like digging in the cool earth with bare hands. The flavours aren’t like those of bought food. You notice an earthiness to carrots, sweetness in lettuce, and freshness to peas. As your senses become attune to the subtleties, you become more aware of your surroundings, of the smallest changes throughout the day or year, changes in your environment, changes in yourself.

The Morning Garden, www.bluemesablog.com

The Morning Garden, www.bluemesablog.com

The Morning Garden, www.bluemesablog.com

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Oxford

Botanical

The Oxford Botanical Gardens, England www.bluemesablog.com

With all the vibrant colours of spring around, I find myself turning back to these golden winter flowers and grasses. I saw these in the Oxford Botanical Gardens on a day not long before Christmas, when the ground was frosty and the gardens empty. There was a low winter sun in the sky, and the muted December palette seemed every bit as lovely as a verdant spring meadow. Just something to think about as you weave daisy chains in the sun this May Day (which you should be doing right now, by the way)…

The Oxford Botanical Gardens, England www.bluemesablog.com

The Oxford Botanical Gardens, England www.bluemesablog.com

The Oxford Botanical Gardens, England www.bluemesablog.com

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France

Pauses in the Palace

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Beyond the crowded bustle of the palace and halls, Versailles has a thousand hidden corners. The grandeur of the place is remarkable, but the little places where light and shadow fall over marble, where the pastel frescoes are a little faded, or the morning sun glints over the chandelier are more beautiful still. I love spending moments by the fountains in the gardens, or in the quiet halls of the Grand or Petit Trianon. Rest by the water or against the cool columns of the Temple de l’Amour. Look up at the ceilings and out of the windows. Arrive early in the morning and spend the whole day lingering where no one else takes the time to pause—in Versailles, in your own home, anywhere.

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

Versailles, France The Grand Trianon, Le Petit Trianon and the Temple de l'Amour www.bluemesablog.com

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Afar

A Winter’s Tale

A Winter's Tale www.bluemesablog.com

She set out alone that frozen night, guided by the light of a single lantern. The winding paths led her into the distant hills.

A Winter's Tale www.bluemesablog.com

She was wrapped in fur and adorned with flowers. On her arm was a basket of winter fruits and summer wine. She laid out her picnic on the hard ground, where the stars were reflected in the glimmering frost. She nestled deep in her fur and lay down to sleep.

A Winter's Tale www.bluemesablog.com

She awoke with the morning sun and went on her way with the sun on her face, and the snow behind her.

A Winter's Tale www.bluemesablog.com

Photos by a dear friend of mine, E.R.A.

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