Thursday, 18 April 2013

Cloister Time

View of monastery from the village

The passage of time is displayed on the cloister walls in a variety of colourful painted sundials of different types, classic, Italian and Babylonian. With sundials on three walls, the hour can be calculated from the shadows in morning, afternoon and evening.

Babylonian sundial

The Babylonian sundials count the day as beginning from sunrise, the Italian from sunset on the day before. The zodiac glyphs mark the points of solstices and equinoxes. Nowadays we have to add an hour because of summer time and a further half hour because we are in the Paris time zone but in the past time was local.

Seasons of course, keep their own time, sometimes spurred on by precocious dollops of sunshine, sometimes as this year, delayed by the cold weather sweeping so they say, down from the Arctic. Here, the cherry, apple and pear blossom is just beginning to flower, leaves starting to throw faint pollen yellow and light green auras around the trees. 
Under the quince tree

While this place is crammed with depictions of passing time, there does not seem to be any more of the actual stuff of it than you find anywhere else, even supposing that time was made of anything which of course it is not, despite being a dominating force in our lives, it slips and slides, scatters and disperses all quite invisibly while we chase after it, throw imprecations at it, to adjust its rhythm to our desires, to speed up or slow down according to our expectations of something we want to arrive quickly, or something we don't ever want to end.
We, the residents in the monastery, have 'all the time in the world' which roughly translates as – not having to attend to many of the quotidian demands that 'normal' life makes on one, and so having plenty of time to write, and also to explore these truly breathtaking surroundings. All of which I am very grateful for, as well as the glorious view of mountains I see every morning from my window, the garden just outside, with its blossoming pear, cherry, quince and apricot trees, the birdsong..... but while ideas and projects burgeon, and it's true that some writing does get done, the possibilities to explore and look around are too tempting to be denied.

The sea, for example, is only a short bus ride away. But to reach the bus stop I have to walk through the village, then climb down one of these hairpin paths to the road and walk on to Fontan –

or walk through the tunnel then take another path - which is less pleasant but quicker if you have a bus to catch.

The bus takes you to Menton, on the French riviera,

Menton market

View of the Mediterranean

or to the Riviera Ligure at Ventimiglia


The Solitary Walker said...

I feel this is a special time for you, dritanje. Stretch your time to the full...

... and, if one needs to tell the time, sundials have to be the best way to tell it...

Anonymous said...

As Pop Larkin in the Darling Buds of May would have said....perfick.

dritanje said...

telling the time by the sun, and including the starry constellations in the whole 'map' so you also know where you are in the whole round of the year, seems like a good idea to me, linking heaven and earth, what more is there? Or maybe I've been spending too much time in the cloister...

three sea horses said...

the sundials are wonderful! and i can just imagine how tempted you are to explore, knowing you, but also because of where you are - such a variety of 'scapes' to get to. (you can always take notebook with your to scribble in, so you won't not be writing! anyway it all goes 'in' doesn't it?). you will be thinking a month is not long enough, i know i would if it were me! give it all my love please - i yearn and pine for that sort of thing!
love as ever

Anonymous said...

Some things do not change.
Your blog ...
This trip is amazing and I feel a little envious
Hugs M.
Nice Sunday!

dritanje said...

thanks 3 sea horses and yes, walking is part of the whole process indeed. But when the weather got bad, really bad, that kept me in the cloister, slightly fretting...xx
and thanks White, I am very lucky I know but also to have my online friends who also post such amazing photos,