Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Firebird

Ahh, that last picture above is just so true to form!

Dear friends,

Despite the fact that night has fallen I hear a blackbird singing in the bedraggled cherry tree outside my window with such virtuosity its song carries hope through the air.  Today is my birthday - forty six already - and one of the most precious gifts has been the dazzling sunlight glimmering through golden leaves from sunrise to sunset.  It is an odd sensation, as autumn lapses gently into winter, to realise that the huge molten giant overhead burns as brightly and yet, because of the slight tilt of the Earth, when its rays strike at a shallow angle its touch is less fiery.

I usually settle into this season with contentment; what choice do I have?  Being a homebird I start dreaming of book-lined shelves and crackling fires, and I am happy.  And then I leave our house - several times a day - and sigh in delight at the regal apparel the trees bear for just a few days more.  Each yellow leaf, twirling downwards turns to molten gold for a few seconds before sinking to the finite ground.

The other day I took Tristan and Angélique to the bookshop.  Whilst they sat, book in hand, my sharp eye glanced around the displays and shelves and in a few seconds I had found, and grabbed, a treasure: my favourite French Illustrator, Charlotte Gastaut's, latest book, L'Oiseau de Feu, hot off the press.  A talented Illustrator gifts the reader a series of stage designs; the magic of a theatre show without leaving one's home.  This version of Igor Stravinsky's work, written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company, contains the ingredients of a fairy tale; an enchanted garden in which a tree bearing golden apples grows, a wicked sorcerer, a bevy of beautiful girls and a golden bird.  When I leaf through its pages I see bright ornaments, evergreen branches, a clash of colour with a touch of surrealism.  Charlotte Gastaut's distinctively Russian themed illustrations are as rich in colour as a cathedral's stained-glass windows and the découpage heightens the similarity with stage settings.

And today I wore for the first time my new handknitted hat; a beautiful, new pattern by Joji Locatelli fittingly named Lantern Lights.  I loved the idea of being crowned with tiny shining latterns to guide me through the chilly, dark evenings and that is why I picked a skein of Madelinetosh Merino DK in the glowing Candlewick colourway from my yarn stash.

My Raverly notes for my Firebird hat are here.

For those who would like to listen to Stravinsky's The Firebird I have had in my possession for a number of years now this version which I think is quite wonderful.

And, for all you music lovers out there I am sharing three of my birthday gifts today:

Carnets de Voyage by the violinist Nemanja Radulovic (here),
La Belle Excentrique by the Baroque singer Patricia Petibon (here),
 Rameau/Suites Livre III by the pianist Alexander Paley (here).

And now I must leave you as Mickaël and I are off out for the evening to celebrate this special day.  Thank you so much for all your kind and wonderful comments.  I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the fact you take the time and put so much thought into each one.

Happy weekend to you all!



  1. Happy Birthday, Stephanie! I love the hat and all that sunshine glowing through the trees. I hope you have a great evening and your birthday is as special as you are.

  2. MY DEAR FRIEND! Happy birthday, OH am I ever excited to SEE YOU! You are stunning, so lovely and full of great promise because I find that as I am hitting more birthdays (57 in April!) and in spite of the new pains (my back, oh, my aching back!) there is SO MUCH more to life and living and in the lessons in the blackbird's song and in the whisper of the leaves. Many happy greetings as I see you here, smiling, looking so lovely, and that hat....that HAT COLOR! Wish I could just go visit you and say, "Bonjour."


  3. Absolutely stunning, your blog posts make me so happy, Hop skippity happy :) I love your hat and you model it so well, you are like a beautiful shining birthday princess :) Have a wonderful evening xxxx

  4. Dearest Stephanie,
    wish you a happy birthday and an unforgettable evening with your love and the echo of the blackbird song in your ears...What a delightful post is that with all those golden hues in the photos. Your pictures are super, who took them? Thank you for all the interesting links you send us, the book seems very special for the kids and not only.
    A warm hug

  5. Happiest of Birthdays to you! You paint with words so exquisitely, much like the book in your hands!

  6. Happy Birthday! Your writing is beautiful so full of lovely prose. Pictures are beautiful too. Love your hat, you look like Faye Dunaway!

  7. Happy happy birthday dear Stephanie!
    Such precious presents! Music and gold. Golden lantern hat, golden leaves, golden feathers. Your post is a pleasure for the eye and the heart.
    Enjoy your evening!

  8. A beautiful post, Stephanie. The hat is stunning, the colour of instant happiness! Love the autumn colours and the yellows seem to be particularly sparkling this year.

    Hope you have a fabulous evening, lots of love x

  9. I hope you've had a wonderful day and that you have a fantastic evening!
    Your new hat is beautiful and I love your photos.
    As always you paint such a lovely picture. :)
    V x

  10. Diane (in Ireland)22 November 2014 at 23:13

    Thank you for such a wonderful post Stephanie! A birthday gift -- for us! And as always, so many lovely elements entwining so harmoniously... beautiful photos, beautiful words, beautiful music...I can only hope your special day was just as beautiful. Bisous.

  11. hip hip hoera!!!!
    What a lovely book and I love yellow!

  12. Happy Birthday dear Stephanie, you look beautiful in your bright yellow hat. Autumn is such a beautiful season with its cooler days and wonderful colours of gold. The illustrations, découpage and colours in the book are so colourful and vibrant.
    Thank you for a wonderful post dear Stephanie, your beautiful words, photographs and the music, enjoy your special dinner.
    xoxoxo ♡

  13. Hau'oli la hanau to you darling. You're looking fabulous at 46. That is a stinking hat. I love talented illustrators. They create wonderful visuals.

  14. HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweet lady! I hope you had a wonderful evening with Mickaël
    Your hat is beautiful but not half as beautiful as you ..... mwah.
    Thank you for al the recommendations I'm excited to go and explore now.
    love Jooles x x x

  15. Buon Compleanno Stephanie!!!!! I'm one year older than you, young lady!!!!!!
    xxxxxxxx Ale

  16. Happy birthday for yesterday. I hope you had a wonderful day. You look lovely in your hat and what exquisite illustrations; each one a work of art.

  17. Dear Stephanie, I hope you have been having a wonderful, fun-filled birthday weekend. The hat - and the book - are wonderful. I too, am a classical music lover. Love to you! Happy birthday. :)

  18. oh, stephanie! I hope your day was the happiest ever. (you DO look like you are having a bit of fun!!!!) And thanks for sharing the book and hat....such a lovely post. This piece of the blogworld is always one of my favorites to visit. I think I'm going to download one of those tunes----as I cast on for that hat! (such an enabler you are. love it. love you!)

  19. Glorious colour, gloriously written and you look glorious in your beautiful hat.

  20. A truly golden post. Beautiful hat, gorgeous book, glorious trees, and such a stylish coiffure!

    A belated Happy Birthday, dear friend, and happy (also belated) St. Cecelia's Day to you! I hope you had a wonderful dinner. Off now to check out the birthday Baroque.... (I do enjoy a bit of Rameau - stately and sprightly. And La Belle Excentrique sounds very intriguing.)

    P.S. Locatelli is a very good name for a designer, is it not? ;)

  21. Happy Belated Birthday! Your hat is just beautiful -- as are all of your photos. They're all so beautifully coordinated. I love the Firebird story, although I've forgotten a lot about it. Thanks for the reminder -- I must go dig out my copy and re-read it!

  22. Your birthday celebration glows with joy and beauty, Stephanie! May this year be glowing for you and yours as well. xx

  23. Wishing you the happiest of birthdays Stephanie. I hope your day and evening were wonderful. Your hat is glorious. I look awful in hats but I am tempted to knit this one

  24. What a beautiful book, and I love your hat, the colour is fantastic! Happy Birthday! xx

  25. Happy (belated) Birthday!!
    Love your hat, I'm wearing a shirt that color right now : )
    Beautiful book : )

  26. happy birthday dearest!! You look lovely and oh so young. The hat is beautiful and I love how you tie in the bits of yellow in other photos :)

  27. Stephanie, I think that my lingering jet lag is playing tricks on me. I thought that I'd left you a happy birthday message yesterday.

    The Firebird book looks stunning as does your beautifully knittle hat. Isn't it grand to see such bright golden yellows around this time of the year!


  28. Happy belated birthday Stephanie, I hope you had a wonderful time! Your hat is gorgeous, it suits you so well. What a fantastic colour, I love it! :)
    Jess xx

  29. Happy Birthday beautiful Stephanie!...Ooh, I've fallen for your new hat...the yarn is just beautiful and the colour so pretty too x
    Hope you had a wonderful day!
    Susan x

  30. Happy, happy birthday Stephanie, wishing you a wonderful day.

  31. Belated birthday wishes Stephanie, I'm sorry I'm a bit late to your birthday post but I hope you had an enjoyable and special day. I love your hat, what a gorgeous colour and your book is just wonderful, what a talented artist Charlotte Gastaut is. Thank you for sharing the music, Stravinsky's Firebird is wonderful but my big soft spot is Baroque keyboard music. Happy weekend.
    Jane xx

  32. Belated happy birthday! I hope you had a wonderful day :) Lovely book and perfectly fabulous hat! xx

  33. Happy (belated)birthday wishes...such a beautiful hat~ I love the pattern and wool colour.

  34. Dear Stephanie,

    Happy birthday to you! It's good to hear the sun was shining for you. I think that makes a birthday extra special. Your yellow hat suits you! It looks good on your blond hair. I realise we have the same colour :-) My hair is perhaps a bit more grey, ha, ha!

    The book looks enchanting. What a talented illustrator Charlotte is. It looks magical. Although my daughters are all 20 something, I still find it difficult to resist pretty children's books like the one you just bought.

    Wishing you a happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  35. Dear Stephanie,

    Happy belated birthday to you! and wishing you a great year ahead. Love all the beautiful photos of you in your gorgeous bright yellow hat also seeing the wonderful Autumn leaves on the trees.
    Looks like a great book - love all the brightly coloured illustrations.
    Hope you and your family have a great weekend

  36. I'm loving the hat, and the harpsichord album is perfection, thank you for the link. I do hope the November gloom hasn't settled on your corner of the world quite so deeply as it has on mine, with no bright flashes of autumn colour remaining here to add even the smallest flicker of fire to our days.

  37. *H*A*P*P*Y* * *B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y*!*!*!* to you from Oregon! My friend Gracie Saylor sent me to visit you. I love your hat and the art book.. delightful! I hope you had a fun night out for your special day.

    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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