December 15, 2014

Lamartine Valley and 100 Happy Days


Narrow roads winding in between parasol pine trees, and . . .
  
I just completed a #100happydays challenge; for 100 days I had to post a picture of something that made me happy. The thought behind the project is that ‘We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in.
You end up not appreciating the things you have, while happiness is in the tiny things. And so the philosophy is that if, for 100 days in a row, you consciously think about moments that make you feel good, you develop a habit of appreciating the small and simple things in life that make you happy. Interested? Here’s an article about the project.
 
. . . white picket fences and . . .  
. . .  and ivy and willows, and . . .

And though finding a happy moment for a 100 days in a row wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, I noticed that my ‘happy moment pictures’ tended to make my friends quite happy too. It did take me away from blogging quite a bit, as you may have noticed. I haven’t been that active anyway due to work related issues. It seems these days I do not get out into town much. I haven’t seen much of Beirut lately, even though I live right in the middle of it, and if I get one good walk a weekend, I consider myself lucky.
 . . . grassy country lanes in between dry stone walls . . .
... and muddy country lanes with puddles and . .
 This weekend I went up to the mountain house, because I was in need of a good wood fire. I have begged my husband for a fire place in my apartment in Beirut for years, but he’s been vetoing it for an equal number of years. His reason – it takes up an awful lot of space for only 3 months of use – makes sense. But when it gets colder (although this has been – yet again – a very mild fall so far), I go up to the mountain house to get my wood fire fix. 

. . . deep ancient wells and . . .
. . . tunnels dug into the mountains to reach water and . . .

. . . water reservoirs that are filling up and . . .

 The house is in a village that is pretty much empty around this time of year, it consists of many summer residences, and every one packed up house way back in September. But the emptiness makes it quite nice and restful. In Beirut you always have the feeling you have to ‘do’ something. If you sit an entire day on the couch, you get this feeling that you are missing out on something. Life in Beirut is fast, and so if you do not partake in it actively, you get this ‘standing-on-the-side-line-of-a-Hollywood-red-carpet-event’ syndrome. Very annoying, because there is no inner peace.

. . .  fire salamanders and . . .
. . . bits of sheep wool stuck on the barbed wire and . . .

But up in the mountains, I can stay indoors in pajamas the entire day, do nothing other than curl up in front of the fire place, and be lazy without feeling guilty or left out. The area where we have a house is sometimes called the Lamartine Valley, because the French poet Lamartine spent some time there in 1932, it seems.  He describes the area in his book ‘Voyages en Orient’. I do not know anyone who actually calls the area that way, but it sounds interesting if you mention that you ‘hiked the upper echelons of the Lamartine Valley.’ And the hiking is lovely here. Most of the time, we just walk, and sort of follow paths we haven't followed before, and end up in all these places that we then decide to buy, and we discuss where we will build the house, and how many rooms it will have, and whether we will have goats and donkeys, or just sick to a few chicken. It's lovely to dream as you walk. It’s quite green now, most leaves have gone, and with the brisk air, lovely to wander through.
. . . yellow trees in between the ever green and . . .
 
It has rained just a bit this fall, but the mountain is oozing out water from all sides. All over the place you find ancient wells, dug right into the bedrock, filling up, or old tunnels channeling into the mountain, and everywhere you hear running water. The reservoirs are already filling up and it hasn’t even snowed yet. This area is one of the few places in the Middle East where they have no water shortages. The limestone and sandstone mountains absorb immense amounts of water. 

. . . ingenious solutions and . . .



And even though my #100happy days are over now, and I can go back to normal life, I catch myself constantly thinking "Oh, this one would be a good one for my happy moments'! And as such, I think the project did help. It is your ability to appreciate the small things, the simple things, that cross your path every day, but that you do not fully appreciate, because you are just not tuned into it. Does it make you happier? Maybe not. But it does make you more appreciative.
 
. . . and woody lanes are a few of my favorite things. Things that make my happy .

And so I wholeheartedly suggest you all start a #100happy days. Maybe we could even start a #100happydaysinLebanon. Then I can start a follow-up project. :) 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

fantastic colors and photos. Yeah , lebanon is pretty this time of the year.

Tanya Dernaika said...

Very uplifting piece convincing us that mindfulness is indeed possible in Lebanon.

Marjolein Ridderbos said...

So true and beautiful pictures!