Thursday, February 3, 2011


Le Silence
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
I saw Odilon Redon's painting Le Silence for the first time when I traveled through Europe after graduating from college in 1985. For more than two months, I wandered around with two college girlfriends and then at some point I left and went on alone. One of the towns I randomly visited was Nantes, a city in western France. The only thing I remember about that visit was this painting that I stumbled upon in a museum. I was immediately transfixed and stood in front of it for a long time, knowing nothing about it or the painter. I bought a postcard of the painting and carried that with me, stuffed into journals, taped to various apartment walls and then finally lost it.

I thought about Le Silence tonight as I read through my favorite blogs, noticing a bit of silence from everyone. There has been less traffic on my blog the last few days or so and fewer comments. I've hesitated to comment myself on many blogs and have been hard put to write, even, on my own. I wonder if it's the snow, blanketing much of the country, further isolating we Californians with our perpetual sunniness. As a native east coaster, I am struck every single day by the beauty of the weather here, but it never ceases to feel strange and unreal, either, especially in January and February.  I understand the Santa Anas are coming in tonight, and the air was crisp today and edgy, colder than it has been. Sophie, who is finely tuned to environmental changes has had an uptick in seizures (but overall is much improved!!!) and when I look into her eyes I see silence.


  1. Firstly, I can see why the painting resonated with you then and now.

    I have been semi-silent. It is the relentless winter. I feel beat up. I say, enjoy your sunniness and be happy. I will not blame you.

  2. It is as though people are in their dark nights a bit, real and metaphorical.

    There is beauty to winter, to the hope , the unfurling,
    but some seasons are particularly heavy.

    and that painting is now loved by me as well. Thank you.

  3. Odilon Redon is one of my favorite artists. He's sometimes overlooked, not so flashy. He best work glows with a certain spiritual luminosity.

    Thank you for reminding me of him today.

  4. I should have known. The first time I saw a certain photograph of Sophie I instantly connected it with his Portrait of Violette Heymann. Now when I occasionally stumble upon finding it either within a favorite book or on the web, she comes to mind every single time. I am sure you are familiar with it and tell me please, don't you see the resemblance?

  5. We lived in weather perfect La Jolla for many years. I longed to be back east with the changing seasons. Now, in the bleak midwest, I'm not sure where I want to be. I'm tired of talking about snow (over two feet and very cold). I am, however, off to check out Odilon Redon. It's good to have a mission!

    So glad to hear that Sophie is doing better.


  6. Talk about a painting that 'speaks' volumes. Silence. The word alone can soothe or make one feel isolated.

    I feel like January has done what it typically does...makes us all feel lost in our thoughts, longing for days of growth outside (Spring!) as well as stirring in our own bodies to get outside and feel alive. Winter is hard especially with the tough winters those outside CA have had. I complain about the cold but it is nothing like the cold of other states.


  7. Life has just overtaken my time and that's all there is to it. And my mind, too, really.
    I feel as if I am riding waves that take all my attention. Perhaps many of us feel that way now.

  8. Still reading your lovely words, but not commenting much because I'm so crazy writing all of the things that come into my head.

    The picture is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Silent here. You are dead accurate about the blanket of snow...

    Still reading, may spark up the blog at some point.



  10. that is a beautiful painting. i love that as a young woman you went on alone in your travels. that says so much about your spirit of adventure and comfort with your own company.

    i think we are all suddenly busy after the slower days of the holidays when we managed to gather around the fire a bit more and share our cheer.

    but i am reading here. i love being here. the people here are kind.

  11. Overwhelm is at the root of my silence. But I am so glad to read the very very fine print and not say a word and know that some weight has been lifted.

  12. I always get quiet in January and February. I have an seasonal simmering of thoughts for some reason. My marriage, the future for my kids, and chaos in Egypt is what has me preoccupied these days. When it gets sunnier and warmer it's easier to throw preoccupations off and leave them for another day.

  13. I've never seen painting this before and how utterly amazing that you have stood in front of the original! )I'll have to research this artist. You've nudged my interest.) And as for the slow blog traffic I've noticed it as well. I haven't read in a while and caught up on yours yesterday and I don't think I left one comment. So unlike my big mouth.

  14. i love the thought of an unexpected painting...striking you to the core.

    the way such moments never leave us... spring, is laying deep roots.
    just wait....
    i sense a powerful outburst of renewal!

  15. I'm guilty of silence. Not sure why. Glad you wrote about it!

  16. So true. I cannot manage to keep my blog updated lately to save my life. Seizures are sucking the life out of every minute of every day. :( I sit down and intend to update and think, what would I type? Another day of shit. Another day of seizures. Another day of rescue meds. Another day of crying (Emily AND myself). blech.

  17. that painting is phenomenal. I am silenced by it.

    yes, i can say for myself that i am a bit "silenced" and i do see a correlation with the weather. its like, we're all mentally and emotionally hibernating. but, spring is almost here :)



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