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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

January - The Blue Hour

Sunday, January 10, 2016

l'heure bleue en Janvier 
the first in a monthly collage of blue images

The color blue is one of my favorite things in life, and l'heure bleu is one of my favorite times in life. L'heure bleue is not so rare that few people ever glimpse it, but l'heure bleue is a rare beautiful few minutes that occurs only when all the atmospheric conditions are just right. Because of its beauty that makes time stop for an instant, the expression l'heure bleue has come to describe a variety of special times and events, not just a description of a special blue glow at dusk. Each month in 2016, I plan to share a collage of blue images that create a little l'heure bleu for me.

Sources: Birdhouse and Girl Statue - botanic bleu;  Clock  

The blue hour is a magical time when the sun has set and when the sunlight slipping below the horizon glows with blue light before darkness descends. The blue hour expression comes from the French l'heure bleue. 

Snow covered well house with its bird house and horizontal supports for a climbing clematis from a previous year... 

Photographers, painters, poets, and even perfumers have been enchanted with l'heure bleue over the ages. Monet painted several series of paintings of the same subject, such as haystacks, poplars, and the Rouen cathedral, to capture the changes in light throughout the day, including l'heure bleu. Modern digital cameras and computer photo editing software help today's photographers enhance their photos like this digitally enhanced photo of our well house.

None of the magic is lost using modern technology; rather the bird house and the lattice board supports for a climbing clematis look even more magically. 

The Blue Hour Site website contains a calculator for determining both morning and evening blue hour times for creating photographs bathed in natural l'heure bleue light and gives tips on how best to capture the blue hour on film.  

Jacques Guerlain, French perfumer, created the L'Heure Bleue fragrance in 1912, a time when the Belle Époque period was drawing to a close just before World War I. The perfume is still sold today, and the time in Paris just before World War I is often referred to as l'heure bleue. 

Guerlain loved the l'heure bleue period each evening and is quoted as saying, "The sun has set, but night has not yet fallen. It’s the suspended hour… The hour when one finally finds oneself in renewed harmony with the world and the light.”  A snow-covered metal sculpture girl with her arms thrown open as she twirls around is in harmony with the world in our back garden just outside the breakfast room windows. 

The statue was a gift from my mother for my 50th birthday. Mother thought of the 50th birthday as very significant, the one that gave her pause to think. Perhaps a suspension in time for her that marked entering a new age and leaving her youth behind, her own personal l'heure bleue. She once talked about how 40 was just another birthday for her, but 50 was the one that marked a turning point. She gave all four of her children a special present to mark that very special 50th birthday for each of us. 

As an old year wanes and a new year begins, I think of l'heure bleue and Guerlain's thoughts of the suspended hour... when one finally finds oneself in renewed harmony with the world and the light. 
Beautiful blue images suspend time and harsh realities of life fade away, recede to dim blurs... if just for a brief time... l'heure bleue.