Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I’m trying to complete my very long “to do” list before departing, but I must admit that instead I’ve been out in the garden an inordinate amount of time—it’s easy to do that in the California sunshine where everything, no matter what you do, grows profusely. My lobelia and delphinium are resplendent; I revel in the intensity of their cobalt blue hues.

Like Jacques Majorelle who built an exquisite botanical garden in Marrakech, Morocco, I have always been obsessed with cobalt blue. (In my previous garden, grown before I visited Majorelle, every flower was solely blue!) Check out Jardin Majorelle, now completely restored.

Maybe I’m enigmaticallly pulled by the color because it reminds me of the intimate and loving times in my infancy when my parents and I shared sunset walks along the edge of the cobalt blue Caribbean Sea. Maybe I’m just one of the historical throngs who’s been drawn by its complexity and beauty. Right now there’s an exhibit at the City Museum and Art Gallery in Plymouth, UK called “Indigo: A Blue to Dye For.” There you learn that the oldest known indigo recipe was written in cuneiform on a Babylonian clay tablet; and of course, who is not moved by the Chinese’s and then the Dutch’s use of cobalt blue in porcelain, or by Utagawa Hiroshige’s sentimental depictions of Edo and Vincent Van Gogh’s emotional irises?

In any case, I started this entry because today Maryam reminded me of Loreena McKennitt’s music, and how it is a testament of our inevitable and yet often forgotten link across time and geographies. (She's more than a performer or singer; she's an ethnomusicologist. My favorite of her CDs is The Mask and Mirror, because it celebrates the still evident Celtic and Arab roots of Galicia, the northern part of Spain where my father is from.) As I prepare to cross several culturally (and politically) imagined boundaries, it’s good to remember our interconnectedness. Thus, I post McKennitt’s song, “The Gates of Istanbul.”

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