A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Le Mont St.-Michel

Long before I ever visited France, I was fascinated by it. At the top of the list of places I would have chosen to visit as a young teenager was le Mont St.-Michel in Normandy. One of my French teachers had a poster of it on our classroom wall. A rocky outcropping on the Atlantic shore, topped with a medieval abbey, le Mont St.-Michel is an island at high tide but attached to the mainland at low tide by a thin land bridge. Romantic, historical, beautiful.

Well, it used to be a tidal island. A causeway built in the nineteenth century, as well as canals and a dam on the nearby Couesnon River (the border between Normandy and Brittany) have caused silt to build up. Over the years coastal land has been reclaimed, Dutch-fashion, for pasture. Finally last year the French government decided that le Mont St.-Michel should be an island again, and began pumping out the accumulated silt. In another five years or so, the project should be completed.

Although I've visited France many times, and lived there at two points in my life, I'd never made it to le Mont St.-Michel. Till yesterday.

High tide was early in the morning, before I arrived, so I didn't get to watch it. It rushes in at the rate of one meter a second, which must be an impressive sight. But I was just happy to be there, and at a time--mid-week, mid-spring--when there weren't too many tourists. I guess I could pencil it in for 2012, when the de-silting project will be completed. Put it on my napkin, as it were.

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Blogger Christopher said...

"Art is a fairly large field where no one need jostle his neighbour and no one need shut himself up in a corner; but, if one insists on taking a corner of preference, one might offer some excuse for choosing the Gothic Transition. The quiet, restrained strength of the Romanesque married to the graceful curves and vaulting imagination of the Gothic makes a union nearer the ideal than is often allowed in marriage. The French, in their best days, loved it with a constancy that has thrown a sort of aureole over their fickleness since."

Henry Adams, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (1913).

8:19 AM  

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