A Story from Elodie Matthews

Elodie is a Frenchwoman from Normandy who lives locally in Applecross with her husband and two delightful/devilish/delightfully devilish wee boys. She is known and loved most notably for her rainbow hair and masterful cake baking skills. Elodie continually surprises me with her elegant creativity. Whether it is the artwork painted on her front door window, the beautiful wreaths she makes at Christmas time or now this captivating short story. She never fails to put a smile on my face.

Elodie has sent this story in its original French (do you remember when the hardest thing to bear in our near future was being separated from our European family?) and translated into English.

Thank you Elodie for your contribution to Applecross Open Mic online!

L’artiste, l’apprentie et l’artichaut/The artist, the apprentice and the artichoke.

Un beau week-end de juillet, un jardin victorien, une explosion de couleurs. Une artiste peintre et ses apprentis.

L’artiste commença la leçon avec une belle citation : « dessine un bambou pendant dix ans. Deviens un bambou. Puis oublie tout du bambou lorsque tu le dessines à nouveau ». Les apprentis s’éparpillèrent dans le jardin, certains pleins de doute, d’autres d’enthousiasme, d’autres encore d’appréhension face au papier blanc.

Une apprentie pleine de tout ça à la fois s’attela à devenir un artichaut, quand d’autres se concentrèrent sur de plus glorieuses plantes : buissons de lavande, parterres de capucines, brassées de lupins… Humble artichaut, aux abords peu aimables, fibreux, épineux. Chardon domestiqué, ni plus, ni moins. Mais l’apprentie savait mieux que nul autre que les apparences sont trompeuses et que c’est sous la surface que se trouvent généralement les trésors.

Ce que l’apprentie ne savait pas, c’est qu’elle n’avait pas besoin de devenir artichaut pour le dessiner. Et ça, la clairvoyante artiste l’avait vu. Avec ses encres chatoyantes, ses pinceaux mais surtout ses mots d’encouragement, elle assista l‘apprentie. Et celle-ci, le temps d’une journée d’été, se rêva artiste elle-même.

Les mois ont passé, l’artichaut s’est révélé dans toute sa beauté, pendant que le rêve de l’apprentie se fanait et que la santé de l’artiste dépérissait…

Aujourd’hui, l’apprentie et l’artichaut ont triste mine car il leur faut dire adieu à l’artiste. Elle n’avait pourtant partagé qu’une journée de leur vie, mais elle en valut mille.

A beautiful week-end in July, a Victorian garden, a burst of colours. An artist and her apprentices.

The artist started the workshop with a lovely quote: “Draw bamboo for 10 years, become a bamboo, then forget all about bamboo when you are drawing”. The apprentices settled in the garden, some full of doubt, some full of enthusiasm and others full of apprehension as they were facing the blank canvas.

One apprentice, full of all these feelings at the same time, set to become an artichoke, whereas others focused on more glorious plants: bushy lavender, beds of nasturtiums, bunches of lupines… Humble artichoke, unpleasant looking, fibrous, prickly. A tamed thistle, really. But the apprentice knew better than anyone that looks can be misleading and beneath the surface usually lie great treasures.

What the apprentice didn’t know was that she didn’t need to become artichoke to be able to draw it. And the perceptive artist had understood that. With her shimmering inks, her paintbrushes but mostly with her encouraging words, she helped the apprentice.

And the apprentice, for a summery day, dreamt herself an artist.

Months passed by, the artichoke revealed its magnificence, while the apprentice’s dream wilted and the artist’s health wasted away…

Today, both the apprentice and the artichoke have a heavy heart, as they said their farewells to the artist. She had only shared one day in their life, but it had been worth a thousand.

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