Monday, 22 October 2012

Hark! Hark! Each Tree Its Silence Breaks

Dear readers,

I am dedicating this post to my remarkable father who turns ninety today.  He is a lover of wood and a talented carpenter in his spare time.

"Hark, hark! Each Tree its silence breaks,
The Box and Fir to talk begin!
This is the sprightly Violin
That in the Flute distinctly speaks!"

(Nicholas Brady 1659-26)

Adapted to music by Henry Purcell in his Ode to St. Cecilia in 1692.  To be listened to and marvelled over here).
 1., 2. and 3.  French early eighteenth-century 'Baroque' oboe.  Referred to as E108.  The original was made of ebony and ivory with silver keys.  Mine is made by Olivier Cottet from ebony and rosewood.  Click here if you would like to here an extract of this instrument being played by my teacher, Elsa Frank.

4. and 5. The tools required to make an oboe reed.  One of the challenges of learning this instrument is having to make one's own reed as there are none available for purchase.  Tricky?  Oh, yes!  The reed on the left was my first attempt. (Don't be fooled; it looks alright but the quality of sound was just not good enough.)  An eighteenth-century oboe only has two keys so to reach the higher notes the reed, which is more supple than a modern oboe's, must be blown harder which makes for very achy cheek muscles! 

6. and 7.  An example of the exquisite music to be played on the Baroque oboe. Anne Danican Philidor (1681-1728), composed sublime music, heavily ornamented to show off the player's virtuosity. Do you see all those crosses on the score?  Each one represents a different ornament.  The bass clef is for the harpsichord accompaniment.  The numbers refer to the chords to be played.


The idea, put into words by NIcholas Brady, of trees finding their voices is a charming one.  Instrument makers put so much love into the wood they chisel and carve so that musicians may cherish the instruments they play.  Some believe that trees speak to one another in the woodlands too.  I would very much like to know what they murmur to each other during autumn as their leaves turn into a symphony of colours and fall silently to the mossy ground.  Are they sad or joyful?  To celebrate this bitter sweet moment I have made Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade, possibly my last autumn hare this year.
This little lady is a lucky hare for she has been stitched from hand-dyed linen (R & R Reproductions for those who like to embroider with soft, natural coloured linens), hand-dyed felted wool, purchased from this lady, and embroidered with silk thread in glorious, hand-dyed autumnal colours.  Her crowning glory is the handmade lace which has been lovingly prepared by a friend of mine for her.  Somehow that creamy lace on the dark tweed trousers reminds me of the ivory and ebony wood on my oboe; do you agree?  Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade, with her embroidered leaves gracing both ankle and ear, is a quiet soul who loves to wander through the countryside and forests gazing up at the trees and the autumn leaves drifting silently to the ground. If the wind is blowing too hard she likes to retreat indoors to sit by the fire, sipping spicy tea and listening to classical music. She is not much of a chatterer but she does like singing quietly to herself, perhaps a little Henry Purcell?  If she were your hare which music would she be singing, I wonder?  If one of you might like to give a home to her you will find her here.

And now I must prepare the decorations for my father's birthday celebration to be held in Tunbridge Wells the first weekend of November.  November?  Where did this year go?

I wish you all a tranquil and happy week.  I will be back very soon as I have some pictures of Héloïse I cannot resist showing you!


Edited Tuesday morning: Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade is off to start a new chapter in her long-eared life. Farewell!


  1. First of all a very, very happy birthday to your father, wish him many happy returns of the day! :)
    Is there no end to your talents ~ you make your own oboe reeds!!!?
    I often wondered if the trees were sad when they lost their leaves, I know I am a bit sad when they do! Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade is wonderful, I love her embroidered leaves, her beautiful handmade lace and her cosy autumn sweater! :)
    Have a lovely week Stephanie and enjoy the birthday celebrations when they come along!
    Vivienne xxx

  2. Happy Birthday to your dear dad, bless him. Mine has just turned 87, still very healthy and active, although Macular disease keeps him from one of his favourite past times...reading. Still gardens and walks tho.
    You are an amazing lady Stephanie with many talents.
    xx Sandi

  3. Happy birthday to your father!!!! May he live happily and healthily into the coming years. (I love the rabbit's tweedy pullover!)

  4. Happy Birthday to your Father! Lovely post, thank you! Ada :)

  5. Happy Birthday to your Dad!

    What a beautiful autumn hare, and the fact that this may be your last autumn hare just goes to show how quick the weeks are passing! Lovely choice of colours ... I just love the dark check trousers with that little detail of lace.

    Hope you are having a lovely autumn, we have had a brilliant weekend of sunshine and the trees were at their best...I just don't want all those leaves to fall.

    Happy autumn
    Fleur xx

  6. what a lovely tribute to your Dad!! Happiest of birthdays!!!

    Miss Autumn Hare...I hope you find your special home; you are quite a wonderful, talented, special bunny!!!

  7. A very Happy Birthday to your dear Dad!

    Thank you for the gorgeous oboe pics (and the music too). I can't imagine the level of dedication and skill required to make or to master this lovely instrument.

    I love the touches of smoky lilac in Mlle. Autumn Serenade's ears and trousers. If she lived at my house, we'd be singing Purcell's "Sound the Trumpet", for the joy of the song and to honour your "sprightly hautbois". (I daresay we'd sound rather reedy as countertenors - I know I do - but no matter. It's such a fun duet to sing along with.)

    I hope you'll let us see the decorations for your father's birthday do. And I can't wait to see your winter hares come tripping across the pages of the year.... :)

  8. Happy Birthday to your wonderful 90 year old father, and a great celebration to follow in November.
    Very fond of the oboe and Henry Purcell's music.

  9. I wish your father a very happy birthday! Wonderful post, as always. I am very much looking forward to seeing some winter hares here in the future - I have enjoyed your autumn ones enormously. x

  10. Dear Stephanie
    Thank you so very much for visiting me and leaving such kind and lovely words. Your blog and life in France is beautiful and I look forward to getting to know you better.
    I am so in love with your hares that I am saving to buy myself one just as soon as I can.
    I hope we can chat soon.
    Love from your newest follower in Australia.

  11. I send wishes for a very Happy Birthday to your father. (My dad also loved all sorts of old wood and was a very talented amateur cabinetmaker. He was also able to create beautiful little boxes from cast off fruit and veg crates!)

    Your Mlle Autumn Serenade is exquisite. It's delightful to see how your imagination unfolds, season by season. Each detail adds to the subtle design. How wonderful to see that handmade lace, too!


  12. Happy Birthday to your father Stephanie! What a beautiful post!
    Victoria xx

  13. A wonderful tribute to your father he is very talented, and special Birthday wishes to him, but I must also say is his daughter is very talented too,
    I love your hares so very clever and beautifully worked
    Have a wonderful week
    Thea x

  14. Happy birthday to your father! I really like the hare. Her patched pants and sweater are so special.

  15. Very happy birthday to your father! Cherish the moments you have together, my Mum just turned 84 and I am so happy she is still here with us. Totally understand about your "cheeks" with your reed... I purchased a chanter and bagpipes, and the reed for the bagpipes was so hard my teacher gave me his in exchange (don't know who got the better deal!)... lovely little autumn hare! Hugs.

  16. What a lovely post, my Dad is a late-learner with regards to carpentry, but he has made some lovely things, and a beautiful blanket box made with wood from a tree on th farm I grew up on.

    I too play woodwind instruments, the clarinet was my first to learn, but since then I have started the flute, I have a few beautiful wooden flutes and two picollos that belonged to my husband's grandfather. Four years ago I had a set of uilleann pipes made which use a double reed like that, reeds are very hard to come by, so making your own is certainly a useful skill...thankful Irish bagpipes are bellows driven, not breath!

  17. P.s Happy Birthday to your Dad!

  18. What an enchanitng post Stephanie! That poem is beautiful and what a lovely idea - trees finding their voices. I hope your father has a most special and happy 90th bitrthday - am sure Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade will sing un petit chanson d'automne for him! She is just beautiful by the way! E x

  19. Dear Stephanie, I am so glad you found me again! I have had a time finding my friends! Thank you for your visit and kind words! Yes, it is a new blog. You haven't gone mad at all! :D Your blog is as lovely as ever, your writings delightful and your photos beautiful! I wish your dear father a very happy 90th birthday! I loved seeing your beautiful flute! What a work of art. The illustrations and music sheet are lovely too. I would dearly love to hear you play! I know it is exquisite. Your autumn bunny is darling and beautifully made! I love stitching on R&R reproduction hand~dyed linen! I do hope the trees are joyful in autumn. It is such a pretty season! You are so gifted my friend and I thank you for sharing the beauty in your life and your talent. Have a happy end of October as well and I hope your week is filled with peace and pockets of joy too! Much love and many blessings, Paula

  20. I am sorry dearest, I see your instrument is an oboe, not a flute. It is stunning!

  21. What an amazing age to reach - ninety - you must be so proud. Happy birthday Stephanie's papa...I hope you've had an amazing day.

    Nina xx

  22. Hau oli 'la hanau to your dad today :O). I think it's such a gift to be able to work w/wood. Autumn Hare is lovely.

  23. Dear Stephanie,

    Congratulations on your fathers birthday! He has reached such a great age. I hope you will have a lovely time celebrating his birthday at the beginning of next month.

    I enjoyed listening to 'Ode to St Cecilia'. Such a beautiful piece of music. Trumpet Voluntary still is one of my favourite pieces by Purcell.

    Your autumn Hare looks lovely! I have been thinking of the song she would be singing and find it difficult. Perhaps 'raindrops keep falling on my head'? :-)

    Wish you a lovely week!

    Madelief x

  24. How wonderful that your dad is 90 hope you all have a lovely day. Your little rabbit is very cute.

  25. A very happy 90th to your father. And enjoy the celebrations when they come. Juliex

  26. She's beautiful, Stephanie. The colours are perfect for autumn and that lace is exquisite.

    Hope your father has a lovely birthday. Wish I had a parent still around - so many things I'd like to tell them.

    Sue X

  27. Happy Birthday to your Dad .. how wonderful to be 90 and in fine fettle ... love the last autumn hare ... she has a lovely cosy sweater and what pretty trousers ... have a lovely week ... Bee x

  28. This is a beautiful post Stephanie, filled with the love and admiration you have for your Father and a show of your many talents. Wow, my dad turned 70 this year, 90 feels a long way off. Such an incredible age to reach and I do wish you and your family a very blessed time together, celebrating life as it should be celebrated. As for your new hare, well I can never get enough of these beauties. the care, the attention and oh the detail is just awe inspiring. What a wonderful woman you are xox Penelope

  29. I would have your delightful lady hare sing greensleeves accompanied by your beautiful oboe. I learnt to play a flute as a young girl but cannot play one now. Wishing you Dad a wonderful birthday.

  30. oh she's lovely. I love the patches on her trousers and her embroidered hems! a simple soul. Heather x

  31. My darling friend,

    I am so charmed and excited to see this LOVELY POST!!! I was out all day yesterday teaching and I am barely getting to my blog comments now. But I was so thrilled to see your words and I CAN ONLY IMAGINE the lovely papers of which you speak! HAND MADE papers, and also INSTRUMENTS AS SUCH HERE, are a joy to witness. I pray that we all can maintain a culture of HANDMADE and arts that truly sing out originality !!! I would so love to see those papers you speak of.

    GOOD AND EXCITING THINGS are happening here, and I see that Mademoiselle here is a hit and she is the cutest rabbit on this and that side of the great pond! I LOVE HER! Oh, to one day maybe own a smaller version of her....if you ever figure out the dimensions.

    Well my creative and beautiful soul, I look forward to another email and I shall take some tea while I read it.

    Until then, enjoy this autumnal season of reflection, planning and preparing. BE WELL STEPHANIE! Anita

  32. Wow une vraie flute traversiere ! :0) moi j'adore les flute Jeff joue moi meme une flute a bec a l' ecole! :0)
    Et aussi vous avait des pieces pour jouer cool! :0)

    Et votre lapin il est trop mignon!!!!:0)

    Bonnie semaine!
    xxx Maria xxx

  33. Hello, sweet Stephanie :o) Thank so much for your cheerful comment and for following me too :o) So I found your great blog and will follow as well! I`m so impressed with your cute makes, love`em all. Well done to you, clever lady! You`re so talented! I`m happy to meet you :o)
    P.S. I`ve visited France twice,the first time it was Paris and the last Marseille :o) Your country is beautiful :o)

  34. Congratulations to your Father of his 90th birthday and what an achievement to reach such a great age! My father was very proud to have reached 90.
    My father in- law was a carpenter and the things he made are amongst our most treasured items.
    Sarah x

  35. Dear Stephanie,

    I send a big happy birthday to your dear Father, and wishing you a wonderful time celebrating.
    My Father worked with wood too and had a lathe and made beautiful furniture.
    Love your sweet rabbit and looks so cozy in the wooly jersey and the tweed trousers.

    Happy week

  36. how wonderful to experience a 90th birthday. I wish him a happy birthday, and many more.
    Your new rabbit is very sweet. Love your work!
    Happy celebrating and creating,

  37. birthday wishes to you father!

    your bunny is so sweet-i love all the details :)

  38. Happy birthday to your father! My niece plays the oboe, too. It's such a beautiful instrument. Each one of your bunnies is so adorable. I love them all.

  39. Birthday wishes ♥
    I have a dear friend of my husband that plays oboe!
    ps little rabbit in so lovely

  40. Thank you for your lovely comment on my blog :) you have inspired me with the pumpkin soup to try it with bacon chestnut or swiss cheese, sounds delicious!! i absolutely adore the hares you make and this one is no exception. love his brown knitted jumper especially! also happy birthday to your father, 90! wow!

  41. oh thats lovely a oboe like the sound of it its so calming and it gifs you ghostbums somtimes if someone plays it very well 90 what a pretty age happy birthday whishes for your father lovely pretty rabbit again is there comming a winter or christmas madmaiselle to????
    greetings leon10

  42. How wonderful! I hope your father has a lovely birthday, how fantastic you get to help him celebrate! And what interesting photos and info on the oboes! I played flute all through school :D there is something so soothing and lovely about being able to create music.
    And what a lovely lovely bunny you've made! Love that little sweater and all the stitched detail! You are so talented!~

  43. Stephanie, a belated Happy Birthday to your dear dad. What beautiful images and words you have presented to us. Your Autumn Hare is so beautiful and made with such care and attention to detail. I like to think that your house and garden is full of these little creations scampering about and getting into mischief.
    Thankyou so much for your comments on my blog, they are very much appreciated. Have a wonderful weekend. With much love, Linda x

  44. Congratulations and best wishes to your Father Stephanie. I love your oboe photos, such a beautiful instrument - both visually and aurally! Autumn Seranade is a beautiful Hare - I do love the level of detailing that you give your creations - exquisite!

  45. Hello Stephanie, Thanks so much for stopping by my Blog - I have been meaning to formally say 'hi' over here. What a beautiful space this is and those Hares of yours are the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. Wishing your Dad a very Happy Birthday. Have a lovely weekend! Mel x

  46. Thank you for the music and the delightful Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade. A joyful hare, no doubt. Happy birthday to your father!

  47. How did I miss this joy of a post?! The oboe, the reeds, the music, the talking trees, the wonder that is your latest hare ... all so perfect Stephanie. Would that we could hear you play!

  48. Oh dear, half my comment has gone missing, the part containing my many good wishes for your father's birthday. He sounds like the kind of man I would like to meet :)

  49. Happy birthday to your papa, Stephanie! How fortunate you are to have him in your life still.
    I'm thrilled to see this post. My husband played oboe in college and made his own reeds. I learned to help him, so I understand that a bit of skill is involved. Also, I play recorder, not so much now as I once did, but have been meaning to dust off my beautiful Kung tenor instrument and try a few tunes for the coming holiday season. Thanks for adding a bit of spark to my kindling of an idea.
    Love your autumn hare, by the way.

    1. Dear Sharon,

      I always get a spark too when I see your comments! Wooden instruments are heavenly to touch, play, and listen to, aren't they? I do so hope you will get your tenor out and breathe life and joy into it again. Thank you so much for connecting with me.


  50. I am a lover of wood also, how I would love to say I was a carpenter too!
    What a beautiful instrument. I bet the sound is beautiful.
    Wishing your father a wonderful birthday/party.xxx

  51. Such beautiful music and an equisite new Mademoiselle! Yes, her colours are so very similar to your oboe. It's lovely to be able to play an intrument, it must be very satisfying to make that warm sound. :) I play the guitar when I have time, I love the sound of the oboe too, although I've never tried to play.
    Jess xx

  52. Good evening Madame Millefeuilles...I have to apologise first as I almost missed this beautiful post...I'm not sure how that happened...but I'm here now and it has been a joy to read Stephanie as always! Happy Birthday Wishes to your father...are you going to play something wonderful to celebrate his 90th birthday?...That would be very special indeed...
    You know that I love Mademoiselle Autumn Serenade..she is a refection of all the joys that autumn brings us along with your wonderful stitchery...a perfect combination. I'm not surprised that she swiftly found a new home where she will be treasured,
    Happy Tuesday,
    Susan x

  53. Nice to know that there are doing that to our food. I guess anything you eat the skin, buy organic or pesticide free, anything you peel than it is not necessary.


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