Joan Claremont
Avatar: Joandarc.Ninetails aka Joanna Claremont
VW: Second Life

Location: Oakland, CA
Country: US
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pastoral traditions

By Joan Claremont, 2010-06-02
Villa des Roses rouge
2 juin 1785

I've finally reach my new summer home in the Aquitaine. The Villa is breathtaking with roses in full bloom. The scent is heavenly which allows one to slip into the perfect state of mind. So far I've had dance class, laughed over some trs ridicule gossip with a dear friend, played some very modern music and even started on a new dress in my artiste studio. The villa also came with a Shepherd and a small herd of sheep. I was invited by the Shepherd and his family to participate in one of the oldest pastoral traditions: the transhumance. The transhumance is the annual walking of the herds up to their summer mountain pastures. Migration of the sheep herds happens all over Europe: in the Alps, the Apennines, in Corsica, Switzerland, and Spain. I have procured some very sturdy shoes and walking staff for this occasion. The mountain trails can be very tricky.The shepherd that tends my flock is an "caractre intressant." He comes daily - herding stick in hand, black beret eschewed shadowed closely by a gigantic pair of Great Pyrenees herding dogs le patou. The dogs make quick work of rounding up the sheep. The sheep trot fast their little hooves clicking along the trail. I watch from my bedroom window as the long white river winds out of the far pasture and towards the mountain meadows for the day. Life here is easy and beautiful cher journal. I feel la joie de la vie at every moment! I may just stay here forever and enjoy my little piece of paradise found.

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By Joan Claremont, 2010-05-19
My visit to the lovely Pyrenees Mountains last week was rejuvenating. I must have managed to sketch every single wildflower and champignon in the region. The hills were covered in tiny blue stars and yellow buttercups. The snows had receded greatly allowing us to pass through some incredible country. I took a carriage to Touluse and then on to Lourdes. I stayed with some good friends from Collge de Sorbonne. We then proceeded by horse back to the mountains where we foraged for edible wild mushrooms and some local medicinal plants I wanted to learn of. I recall as a child my grand-mre would take me out after the rains had faded and the days were hot. We would fill our aprons with chanterelles in a lovely secret wooded area near our grande maison. After our fruitful forays, my grand-mre would invariably make us an omelet with wild mushrooms cooked in butter. She would sit with me sipping a glass pouilly-fum and rave about the delectable flavor of the chanterelles! The champignon were all over the forest floor in great quantities nestled among the mosses and general detritus of the woods. I brought some of the cepes back wrapped tightly in cheesecloth for a little late spring indulgence. I stopped and paid my respect and said my prayers to the Vierges Noires. Such a powerful and haunting energy these small-carved ladies emit. I have visited many in France but this particular place seems so very different its hard to explain. Such beautiful people in this region. Their garb is colorful and fine. I found myself sketching some of the ladies at market. Their hats were of paticular intrest to strange looking. The food and wine was incredible. I return home with the fresh mountain air still in my lungs. My hair and riding habit still smells faintly of snow and wildflowers. I hope to return again someday.
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Pins and Needles - Dress Diaries

By Joan Claremont, 2010-05-06
Journal le 6 mai

The weather in Languedoc has turned into beautiful late spring. I find myself changed and inspired by my new home and surroundings. I've settled in quite nicely in my little corner of the world. The shop is flourishing and business has been swift. Many travelers and tradesman have been making their way around the countryside in this fine weather. This week I took to tailoring my own gowns. Secretly I admit it is very enjoyable and meditative especially in the heat of the late afternoon. The action of my hands in busy motion somehow helps my mind create a solution for any problem. I must economize and adjust my new lifestyle now that I have a business to tend and books to keep. I still find a little extravagance is good for the soul though...giggle. My beautiful and educated mother and grand-mre taught me lace making and embroidery though how I retained that knowledge I still dont know. Inevitably Id be sneaking off with one of my brothers to ride horses or race through the grove where the peacocks sleep in search of feathers. I look back on these memories and smile even as my fingertips are sore and bleeding from all the damn cartridge pleats in this dress skirt! At least the cloth I traded for in the village is fine and light and should be perfect for the very hot summer too come. I can hear the rush of the creek behind the shop and the sun is reaching mid-day. Time to take a light lunch of fruit, cheese and bread. I think later this evening after the heat has passed I will walk along the canal to find roses for a nice balm for my hands and fingertips.


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