Last fall I ordered some primroses and they are supposed to arrive some time this spring for planting. I am anticipating their arrival even more after seeing the exuberant wild primroses all along the bluffs above the beaches of Normandy. At first, it seems like an odd juxtaposition, lovely, delicate-seeming primroses on scene where desperation and death were common in the summer of l944. That was a cold summer and storms raged on either side of D-Day, June 6th. The Allied Forces planned to liberate France by doing the unexpected, which involved entering France along fifty miles of coastline west of the port of Le Havre. To accomplish this, the British came up with a plan to build artificial harbors so that supplies could be delivered. Churchill proclaimed that there would be no discussion as to whether it was possible or not, only how to create a harbor to be fabricated on site in a matter of days that could rise and fall with the tides. "Mulberry B" was built out from Gold Beach at Arromanches and "Mulberry A" off of Omaha Beach.
Unfortunately, on June 7, l944 the storms returned and gale force wind and water hammered the harbors. Amazingly, the harbors held sufficiently to allow the mass import of supplies to the Allied Forces battling against the Germans, who had bunkers all along the coastline. At Pointe du Hoc, the placement of German bunkers was particularly particularly dense. The American troops formed human chains to climb the bluffs. When a soldier fell, there was another to take his place.
Walking along these landscapes, an idea began to develop, that there was a certain wild and organic nature to this warfare. I have always focused on the discipline necessary to be a soldier (and I tend toward the pacifistic.) Before me was a scene so improbable, how could harbors be built in days and withstand a gale? How could Allied Forces actually overtake the German troops hunkered down all along the coast? There were many missteps and mistakes, and still they succeeded. And the sheer numbers...you understand this when you see the field of white marble markers at the American Cemetery.
I don't know about you, but I have been having a hard time getting my primroses established. A few are hanging on and I'm hoping to add to their numbers. In Normandy, they rush abundantly up the bluffs and through the fields, just like the young men in the summer of l944.
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I will be the featured artist at White Horse Gallery for the April 15th Paris Art Walk, 431 Main Street, Paris, KY, 5-8 pm. Roz and Richard Roney-Dougal are the proprietors of White Horse. They offer a beautiful collection of their equine-themed original jewelry. Richard is connected to D-Day, his father helped design and build the Mulberry B harbour at Arromanches. I shall be demonstrating the painting of primroses during the Paris Art Walk. Come join us!