Stygian Skies

Heavy rain fell from decidedly Stygian skies throughout the morning during which I finished reading the fourth chapter, entitled ‘ ‘Give me combat!’ France: 1894-9′, of Barbara W. Tuchman’s The Proud Tower.

I had previously been vaguely aware of the Dreyfus Affair with dominated the decade, but never really understood it until reading Tuchman’s analysis of the schism that split France. Dreyfus was a French army captain who happened to be Jewish and was unjustly accused of selling secrets to Germany. There is now no doubt that Captain Dreyfus was framed by the French military authorities who used forged documents to condemn him to years of imprisonment. It became a national conflict between the Dreyfusards, convinced of his innocence, and those who believed the military should be supported at all costs. Violent anti-Semitism developed and was pitted against those, largely artists and intellectuals, who fought for justice.

I will refrain from offering more details save to say that the ultimate pardon did not come with a finding of innocence. Ms Tuchman describes the physical and emotional violence of the warring parties, which also involved a failed assassination. France, too, had the seething undercurrent which seemed endemic to the rest of Europe.

My mid afternoon today the rain had ceased and a brief appearance of sun had cast a little light over the land.

While I readied myself for a trip into the forest Jackie nipped out into the garden and photographed

raindrops on weeping birch and clematis cirrhosa Freckles.

The chameleon skies were the canvas on which my camera painted

varying tones of indigo and smoky ochres with pink tinges.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s mixed meats and vegetable stoup followed by pepperoni pizza and fresh salad, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Second Fleet Cabernet, Merlot, and Petit Verdot Coonawarra 2019.