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Posted 4/8/2011 1:45pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Even when it's not raining upstate one must wear a coat outdoors for all but a few hours in the early afternoon—it's still that chilly and  it feels colder when wet. This is the time of year of mud.  The  Spring rain makes a boot sucking mud of the recently thawed soil,

April is the cruellest month, breeding    
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing    
Memory and desire, stirring    
Dull roots with spring rain.

The Wasteland T. S. Eliot, 1922

It was Saturday. New Yorkers do not know mud; the city is paved and there are cement sidewalks to stroll upon. Before driving to Manhattan, I put on my Blundstones and looked down to see semi-dried mud caked on them. It was 5:30 AM, it was too late to wash my boots: my feet would be wet during the cold morning hours.  Instead I would take the farm with me to the city on the soles of my boots.  I was going there to sell, to see and not to be seen, I told myself.

And I should do something other than hang out  at the stand in Union Square as I usually do.  I have competent sales help at market; they really don't need me there.  Maybe I should take in a Chelsea gallery or two, see an exposition at one of the uptown museums or even go to a downtown movie, one that will never play upstate...I brought The New Yorker along to see with what kind of city idyll "Goings On About Town" could tempt me. 

Posted 4/7/2011 8:56pm by Eugene Wyatt.

If one had to read but a sampling of À la Recherche du temps perdu it would be Noms De Pays: Le Nom, the last section of volume I, Du côté de chez Swann.  The tone is lovely; the account is self contained and it has a wistful yet mature view of time past and has no need of the madelaine gimmickry that Proust uses to conjure 'involuntary memory'.

Tags: Proust
Posted 4/4/2011 9:10am by Eugene Wyatt.

Robert de Montesquiou, the aesthete who was the model for Proust's Baron de Charlus (perhaps the most intriguing and certainly the most  amusing character of the 2000 personages, real or fictional, in À la recherche du temps perdu), had his first love affair

"with a female ventriloquist who, while Montesquiou was straining to achieve his climax, would imitate the drunken voice of a pimp, threatening the aristocratic client."

Pages from the Goncourt Journals, (1851-1896) the Goncourt Brothers, Edmund & Jules, translator Robert Baldick, 2006.

Posted 3/31/2011 3:03pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Colette has given us a portrait of Marcel that is all but forgotten, yet which is shocking in its disdain:

“At ‘mother Barmann's’ [that is to say Mme Arman] I was hounded, politely, by a pretty, young literary-minded boy. The young fellow had fine eyes, with a hint of blepharism...He compared me—my short hair again!—to Myrtocleia, to a young Hermes, to a love of Prud'hon's...My little flatterer, thrilled by his own evocations, never left me...He contemplated me with his caressing eyes, with their long eyelashes...”

Colette did not much care for

“his over-weaning politeness, the excessive attention he paid to those he was talking to,”

she once again described

"the large, brownish, melancholy eyes, a skin that was sometimes pink and sometimes pale, an anxious look in the eyes, a mouth which, when it shut, was pursed tightly as if for a kiss...”

Marcel Proust, A Life by Jean-Yves Tadié, 1996 p. 211.

Posted 3/30/2011 7:50pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Sarah of Hawthorne Valley, a biodynamic farm in the Union Sq. Greenmarket and our neighbor there on Saturday, had a baby that she and father Ben (Hawthorne Valley too) call Hannah;  Sarah knit the hats pictured here from our wool, and a Catskill Merino sheepskin helps keep them warm.

Hannah and Sarah

Tags: Hannah
Posted 3/28/2011 7:48pm by Eugene Wyatt.

Dominique takes the early morning shift (when most of the lambs were born, 10-12 a day over the last 10 days) while I look in on the ewes about 9 PM every night to see if anybody needs a hand lambing.  If I come upon a newborn, for identification, I'll spray mark/color code the ewe to the lamb then dip its navel in a 7% iodine solution to prevent infection. 

There are some weak lambs born recently, usually twins, who need 2-4 oz. of milk replacer to keep them going through the night as their mothers are not producing enough milk yet; I deliver nourishment with the insertion of  a flexible plastic tube into their mouths, run it down their gullets and into their stomachs, then with a 2 oz. syringe connected to the tube I slowly introduce the milk replacer, made by adding water to powdered milk specially formulated for lambs.  Stomach tubing is faster (you can treat more lambs in the same time) than waiting for lambs to consume what they need from a latex nipple. 

It's still cold—19F tonight—the colder it is, the more nourishment a sheep needs.

Posted 3/28/2011 4:54pm by Eugene Wyatt.

I asked Dominique to pick up 072 so I could photograph him.  His mother is 159 and his Birth was recorded 6 days ago.  He was the 72nd purebred Saxon Merino born this year, hence his ear tag number.

I'm amazed that he, and his dam too*, know that he is a special sheep (good sheep seem to know their excellence and it is this self knowledge that amazes one); I can see by his calmness and the way way he carries himself that he is special.  The way he looks at me. He has that sense of assurance that only good sheep have; being that he is a purebred Saxon Merino, he will have superior wool, better wool than his peers have, in those important fiber qualities of fineness, uniformity and density; he should pass these qualities along to certain of his offspring when I breed him two years from now.

*Two days earlier I had tried to photograph him as he stood in the barn with a very dear Nikon 14 mm-24 mm  zoom lens on my D-700; as I bent over to get close to him, his mother, 159, interceded and bumped me leaving her nose print on the convex glass of the wide angle lens. "What you doin gettin so close to my boy?"

Posted 3/27/2011 8:34pm by Eugene Wyatt.

The Duck has taken to hanging out with Canadian Geese who are now flying in; last week two Mallards splash landed in the pond, he held his beak in the air and would have nothing to do with them. They flew off.  He is a duck of different sorts.

Tags: The Duck
Posted 3/27/2011 3:49pm by Eugene Wyatt.

On the way to a recital at the house of the Duc de Guermantes, travelling along the Champs Elysées, Marcel's carriage reaches the Rue Royale.

I was not traversing the same streets as those who were passing by, I was gliding through a sweet and melancholy past composed of so many different pasts that it was difficult for me to identify the cause of my melancholy. Was it due to those pacings to and fro awaiting Gilberte and fearing she would not come? Was it that I was close to a house where I had been told that Albertine had gone with Andrée or was it the philosophic significance a street seems to assume when one has used it a thousand times while one was obsessed with a passion which has come to an end and borne no fruit like when after luncheon I made fevered expeditions to gaze at the play-bills of Phèdre and of The Black Domino while they were still moist with the bill-sticker’s paste?

Le temps retrouvé 1927,  Volume VII of À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. Translated by Stephen Hudson.

Tags: Proust
Posted 3/25/2011 8:01am by Eugene Wyatt.

On second thought, it's not to restart reading À la recherche du temps perdu, but to continue what I enjoy: looking at Proust's syntax, diagramming the more curious structures,  questioning the translations, reading the original in French when I do question them, and so on.

My bedtime reading is Jean Yves Tadié's biography, Marcel Proust, A Life which is lighter for the late hours of the day; on clear mornings, before following Proust into his daunting music, where I often feel clumsy like I'm learning the tango, "Show me that step again, s'il vous plaît," I read a section or two of Virginia Tufte's helpful Artful Sentences, Syntax as Style to better understand the grammar (noun phrases, verb phrases, etc.) that Proust uses in À la recherche du temps perdu, pedant, or verbal danceophile, that I sometimes can be.

Since my name was on their visiting-lists, my long absence from Paris had not prevented old friends from sending me invitations and when, on getting home, I found together with an invitation for the following day to a supper given by La Berma in honour of her daughter and her son-in-law, another for an afternoon reception at the Prince de Guermantes’, my sad reflections in the train were not the least of the motives which counselled me to go there.

I told myself it really was not worth while to deprive myself of society since I was either not equipped for or not up to the precious “work” to which I had for so long been hoping to devote myself “to-morrow” and which, may be, corresponded to no reality.

In truth, this reasoning was negative and merely eliminated the value of those which might have kept me away from this society function.

But what made me go was that name of Guermantes which had so far gone out of my head that, when I saw it on the invitation card, it awakened a beam of attention and laid hold of a fraction of the past buried in the depths of my memory, a past associated with visions of the forest domain, its rich luxuriance once again assuming the charm and significance of the old Combray days when, before going home, I passed into the Rue de l’Oiseau and saw from outside, like dark lacquer, the painted window of Gilbert le Mauvais, Sire of Guermantes.

For a moment the Guermantes seemed once more utterly different from society people, incomparable with them or with any living beings, even with a king, beings issuing from gestation in the austere and virtuous atmosphere of that sombre town of Combray where my childhood was spent, and from the whole past represented by the little street whence I gazed up at the painted window.

I longed to go to the Guermantes’ as though it would bring me back my childhood from the deeps of memory where I glimpsed it.

And I continued to re-read the invitation until the letters which composed the name, familiar and mysterious as that of Combray itself, rebelliously recaptured their independence and spelled to my tired eyes a name I did not know.

Le temps retrouvé 1927,  Volume VII of À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. Translated by Stephen Hudson.


My long absence from Paris had not prevented old friends from continuing, as my name remained on their lists, faithfully to send me invitations, and when on my return I found—together with one to a tea-party given by Berma for her daughter and her son-in-law another to an afternoon party with music which was to take place the following day at the house of the Prince de Guermantes, the gloomy reflexions which had passed through my mind in the train were not the least of the motives which urged me to accept.

Really, I said to myself, what point is there in forgoing the pleasures of social life if, as seems to be the case, the famous "work" which for so long I have been hoping every day to start the next day, is something I am not, or am no longer, made for and perhaps does not even correspond to any reality.  

This reasoning was, it is true, completely negative and merely deprived of their force those other reasons which might have dissuaded me from going to this fashionable concert.

The positive rea­son that made me decide to go was the name of Guer­mantes, absent long enough from my mind to be able, when I read it upon the invitation card, to re-awaken a ray of my attention, to draw up from the depths of my memory a sort of section of the past of the Guermantes, attended by all the images of seigniorial forest and t flowers which at that earlier time of my life had accompa­nied it, and to reassume for me the charm and the significance which I had found in it at Combray when, passing along the Rue de l'Oiseau on my way home, I used to from outside, like some dark lacquer, the window Gilbert the Bad, Lord of Guermantes.

For a moment the Guermantes had once more seemed to me to be totally different from people in society, comparable neither with them nor with any living being, even a reigning prince, creatures begotten of the union of the sharp and windy air of the dark town of Combray in which my childhood had been spent with the past which could be sensed there, in the little street, at the height of the stained-glass window.

I had had a longing to go to the Guermantes party as if in going there I must have been brought nearer to my child­hood and to the depths of my memory where my child­hood dwelt.

And I had continued to read and re-read the invitation until in the end, rising in revolt, the letters which composed this name at once so familiar and so mysterious, like that of Combray itself, resumed their in­dependence and outlined before my tired eyes a name that I seemed never to have seen before.

Le temps retrouvé 1927, Volume VII of À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust.  Translated by Andreas Mayor, Terence Kilmartin and revised by D. J. Enright.

Tags: Proust