Murmur in the Trees VI by John O'Grady | A sunset on a hot summer day in Provence
A Murmur in the Trees VI, ©John O’Grady
16″ x 16″ x 1.75″ acrylic on canvas, ready to hang


This past week, a heatwave has come to the south of France. An all time record was broken in a town barely half an hour from here with temperatures surpassing 45˚C. And we are still in June.

To cope with this, the strategy adopted by locals is to close shutters and windows during day time and then, when twilight comes, to open them to allow a cooler air to circulate.

In the heat, it’s only possible to sleep fitfully.

I lay on the couch I had pushed right under the wide open window and waited patiently for the balm of a breeze to wash over me.

Throughout the day, the extraordinary heat had beaten down on the pine forests covering the hills surrounding the village and once night fell, the breeze carried with it the wonderful scented oil the pines released into the air.

It was delicious.

With every soft waft, I imagined the air passing through the pines. I imagined how the trees were murmuring as they swayed gently.

And, half-sleeping, half-awake, staring at a lone star framed by the window, I remembered Emily Dickinson’s poem: A Murmur in the Trees – to note –

I knew the following morning I had to capture in paint the connection felt with nature during that night.

So how do you suggest heat in paint?

I chose an intense rose and orange sky at sunset.

Then, I featured the tall and elegant pines, dark and silhouetted against the striking sky.

Below is Emily’s poem and a link to the the prowling Bee blog run by Susan Kornfeld who features more poems by Emily Dickinson.

A Murmur in the Trees – to note –

A Murmur in the Trees – to note –
Not loud enough – for Wind –
A Star – not far enough to seek –
Nor near enough – to find –

A long – long Yellow – on the Lawn –
A Hubbub – as of feet –
Not audible – as Ours – to Us –
But dapperer – More Sweet –

A Hurrying Home of little Men
To Houses unperceived –
All this – and more – if I should tell –
Would never be believed –

Of Robins in the Trundle bed
How many I espy
Whose Nightgowns could not hide the Wings –
Although I heard them try –

But then I promised ne’er to tell –
How could I break My Word?
So go your Way – and I’ll go Mine –
No fear you’ll miss the Road.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the painting.