Thursday, August 20, 2009

Room to Breathe, Room to Grow.

'Tony stood on the crest of the hill and looked out over the misty morning scene in the valley below. A wide curve of stripped and pruned olive trees embraced orderly rows of skeletal vines, dipping down into the valley and disappearing into the crook of the hill before reappearing on the next, and the next again.
He knew they crossed ancient boundaries, one farm’s land merging into that of another, an endless swathe fading into the distance as if they crossed the whole of Umbria. It amazed him, how there could be so much open land, so much space, quietly waiting for the first touch of spring.
He breathed deep and his lungs expanded and craved more. After years of shallow city breathing, he drank in the clean air as if making up for lost time....'

That’s Tony, the hero of A Different Kind of Honesty, in one of my favourite ‘rooms.’ You’ll be able to guess from the cover of the book where that might be. Umbria, right in the centre of Italy, is a place I go back to time and time again. For some reason, the second I get off the plane and my feet touch the ground, I feel as if I’m home. Why this should be, I can’t explain - but I know I’m not alone. I’ve met many people of different nationalities and cultures, Europeans, Americans, Japanese, who feel just the same way. Italy has a way of capturing your heart and your soul, and making you truly feel as if you’ve come home. No, it’s not where I come from, and it may never be the place I live, but like the saying goes, ‘home is where the heart is,’ and I know where my heart loves to be.

This is my favourite room. I love this photograph of the statue of St Francis of Assisi, looking out over Umbria as if he’s seated in his favorite room and loving the view from his window. He was a guy who knew a bit about quieting the spirit and contemplation of what’s really important in a person’s life, and no, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate that feeling. When I look at this landscape, my first reaction is to take a deep breath, and it’s as if all the stresses and strains of everyday life evaporate. I can almost physically feel my heart rate slow down, and my spirit is calm.

Here is where I find room to breathe and room to grow. I drink in the sweet clean air, and I feel alive and rejuvenated. It’s no wonder I send my characters there. Yes, it’s my own longing I’m writing about when Tony stands on that same hillside, but I make no apology. This is my favourite room, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you.


Lindsay Townsend said...

Truly, a beautiful and inspiring room! I agree with your belief of home being where the heart is - I feel the same in Italy, and strangely enough, in Dorset in England. Beautiful photos!

I love the idea of room to grow which you perfectly express in your lovely excerpt.

Thank you, Jane! Another glorious room!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thanks, Lindsay. Looking at all my holiday snaps has made me want to get on a plane right now!

Jane x

Bekki Lynn said...

Wonderful, Jane. I love he expressed the need for more when his lungs were already expanded. I felt it along with him.

I want to plop down beside him and enjoy the peace and beauty.

Christine Clemetson said...

So inspiring Jane. The pictures are wonderful and calming. What a great post.


Jane Richardson, writer said...

Bekki, there's room on the picnic rug - plop right down! :)

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thanks, Christine! :)

Jane x

Maggie Toussaint said...

What lovely photos, Jane. I, too, often find myself in spots that feel like home, places I've never been before. I blame it on DNA. I can't be crazy, no way!

Celia Yeary said...

Jane--I felt as though I were there--maybe I drove through there once when we were in the center of Center.I felt Tony's longing and, I fully understand your placing yourself there, saying those very same words. How lovely and touching. Thanks for a quiet moment in my too busy world. Celia

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Maggie, crazy, you? Never! ;-0 It's bound to be the DNA thing!
Great to see you,

Jane x

Jane Richardson, writer said...

It's a pleasure, Celia. Good to have a moment of calm.
Lovely to see you,

Jane x

Francesca Prescott said...

I know exactly how you feel, Jane. I'm half Italian, so my heart tends to wander off over the Alps to favourite places in Italy. I've not yet set any books there, but sooner or later I probably will. Besides, I recently watched "Under the Tuscan Sun" again. Who wouldn't be inspired by that kind of atmosphere? Such a lovely movie!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Francesca, I'm not the teeniest bit Italian, though apparantly my temperament says otherwise! ;-o I'm a sucker for those movies too. And I've read all the books....!

Jane x

Serena Shay said...

What an exceptionally beautiful room! And how cool that you've found a place where you feel free and at peace. May you find the ability to go back often!! :)

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Thanks so much, Serena! :)

Jane x

Kathye Quick said...

I couldn't get the pictures on my work computer, so I'll try from home. All the wonderful comments about them have me curious.

My favorite room at home is sinspired by Arizona and the wonder desert vistas. It's a realzing shade of warm adobe and accented by the colors of the Arizona sunsets in Sedona at Airport Rock. Add in some Native American Art and I'm on vacaction there.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Kathye, your own room sounds wonderful! I think I'd like that too. Hope you enjoy the pictures when you see them!

Jane x

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, Jane, thank you for this able-to-breathe respite. You express your room so beautifully I feel it and sense it... and the pictures are glorious.
Like Bekki said, I felt Tony as he breathed in the air fully.
Especially thanks for the picture of St. Frances of Assisi. I've never seen that. He seems so real as he sits in contemplation. Just spiritually beautiful.

Linda Banche said...

Jane, beautiful descriptions. And I was surprised to see a statue in the middle of a field.

Debra St. John said...

Gorgeous pictures. The outdoors do sometimes make the best rooms.

Mona Risk said...

Jane, what a beautiful way to show us a part of Italy through Toni. I don't know where Umbria is. I visited Sorrento last year and fell in love with it. For me any place facing the ocean or the sea is home.


Ok, I'm jealous of your room. I would love to go to Italy and roam the country. The pictures are beautiful.


LK Hunsaker said...

Jane, I felt that way about Italy but I figured it was my quarter-Italian heritage. It is gorgeous.

I enjoyed this scene in your book and I enjoyed it again here with illustrations. ;-)

Mary Ricksen said...

Thanks!! It reminds me of North Carolina in the mountains.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Savanna, Linda, Debra, Mona, Loretta, LK, Mary - hi, and THANKS for coming by! I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures and got a moment of tranquility from them. :)
Savanna, Linda - the statue is just by the entrance to San Damiano, which is the plain and simple church built by St Francis, and such a contrast to the famous Basilica at the other end of the town. It's an incredibly calm and meditative place, and the statue, well, I've never seen one like it. I love its simplicity.
Mona, Umbria is right bang in the centre of Italy. It's called 'the green heart of Italy,' and it is very green and lush, very fruitful and peaceful.
Mary, I've never been to the US, but I do love the sound of North Carolina. So many lovely places to see, and not enough time to see them all!
Thansk so much all of you for coming over. :)

Jane x