Much Love Monday

A very short Herman Melville poem called Greek Architecture reads: Not magnitude, not lavishness,  /  But form - the site;  /  Not innovating wilfulness,  /  But reverence for the archetype. 
Not all ubiquitous trends become archetypal, and it is this kind of historical perspective that I think I long for in life, as a touchstone, to test to see if what I am exposing myself is truly valuable. A woman said on TV today that it isn't the same thing to speak of age and maturity; if we are using our years correctly, we will become more beautiful as time goes on, because we know what we can and cannot do, what is good for us, etc. "Not innovating wilfulness" - for that is a sign of youth, of pride.
Do we grow into ourselves, with time, as an old building? Cultivating "not magnitude, not lavishness," but perfecting the essential, without frivolous foppery, instead with attention to "Form, the site" - the place we gather, the genius loci. The spirit of a place "is as much in the invisible weave of culture - memories, stories, belief, as the physical aspects - monuments, rivers, woods, rural craft styles, pathways, views, or interpersonal aspects - friends, relatives, kindred spirits..."
The fascinating thing about ancient Greek culture is that along with the amount of ancient thought that has been passed down, many of the edifices still remain. But what of those traditions that have not enjoyed such continuity?
The "form - the site" can be the place where kindred spirits gather, a place that remains in memory, perhaps in story. The archetype is so humble, it could be a barn. And while I am the first one to be romanced by the temples of yesteryear, I had occasion this weekend to think of the simple things, to again question: How much of it is essential? Where does the value lie? And we all know the answer to these questions. It is never in the empty form, but in what the form represents...
Sometimes I look at my life now and marvel at how far away it is from what I knew as a child. But the values remain the same, having had time to steep, revealing new strains of flavour. One of the value-phrases that has formed me is the prayer my boarding school headmaster said before meals: Good food, good friends, we give thanks to the Lord.  
This weekend was an important holiday weekend for me, and while I was a guest, I was also host, so the dishes I prepared were delicious, but not time-consuming. The star attractions were the rack of lamb with mustard-thyme coating, and Lumberjack Cake (via). There's nothing like good meals and gatherings with friends. So, on a new year's note, may '12 be a year of making beautiful memories and friends, the archetype of love and beauty, which does not have to have a building, but does need a place.
For today's Much Love Monday, I love the value of friendly gatherings.

Elements: paper: a print a day;
frame: besotted blog via creature comforts.
Magazine image: Marie Claire Idees.