The sky was in the valley. A dust and pink extravaganza with a glow in the center that felt as if cumulus clouds had slumbered there like giants in their piney beds.
Reflection; the act of, not the image of, is a way of reconsidering where we are in relation to reality. Reflecting pools have for a long time been places where one could contemplate the difference between the illusion and the real. All we need is a small breeze to see the one fracture into a shimmering and fragmentary non image, while the other stays as it is. And then when stability returns we can match the upside down image to the real once again.
You know the expression; ‘I went to see a man about a dog.‘ Well on this day, we did. Gianni’s sheep dog had a litter of 10 and one of them was promised to a man who was for many years the man behind the Armani brand, now retired to a grand country estate nearby. As you can see from this dovecote, if a birdhouse can look this good imagine the rest.
He’s a kind and generous man who walked us all around his place with evident pride and pleasure. We went through woodland and pasture and vineyards and rolling hills and then through an amazing house. There was so much to see that I wanted to come back with my view camera and make some pictures that the place deserves. But for the moment these few notes are just the tip of the many places I responded to while with him.
But the mud/boot room takes the cake. What a holy ‘chamber,’ and for boots!
Oh, those mornings! The spectacle of seeing through the watered sky. All that suspended moisture acting as prism, or screen, or veil, hiding things while revealing another dimension of seeing. And then that gift of silence that falls over the land as does the mist itself. It’s an offering of contemplation that makes every morning an invitation to go out into it.
Even though the beauty of it seems to be everywhere it still takes a kind of discrimination to see, not the superficial beauties, but those other characteristics that speak to one’s own sense of necessity.
When I go over my contact sheets (yes, even on screen) I often see connections between things that make me wonder what I was thinking about at that moment. Why did my eye go from something as earthy as hay bales, to something as lofty as the sky? We are like that, aren’t we? But is there a connection that tells us anything? About us? About why our interests range like that?
I’m interested, and always have been, in trying to understand my momentary inclinations to move one way or another, look up or down or askance, because these are basic to our elemental understanding of our visceral selves, and knowing something about that part of our ourselves can guide us further into our own mystery. And from that core may come our best work, our truest image of who we are in our most idiosyncratic manner.
Our fingerprint defines us as different from everyone else on earth. No one has the same lines on their fingers as we do. That difference is deep in our psyche too, and from that place emerges the artist we each can be, we just need to trust that and open up to it.
The little saw-toothed fringe along the tops of Tuscan hills has always pleased my eye. This particular passage is one that I drive by several times a week and it gets me every time in every season. Why? Why do some places have that power, even when it is a far away and slender note of attraction? Perhaps it is just that, the minor tone in the major space, and yet…it pulls at me, not just my eye, but all of me, with that gasp of recognition that this place, right now, right here, adds something to my life.
Some things are just pleasing because they are. Not for the graphics which certainly could be a part of the pleasure too, of course, but for some small and barely noticeable relationship which plays the eye for only a second, but is enough to tell the brain to consider its potential.
For me the clusters of foliage of the lecco tree, like a big broccoli, and they way they hold the light along their tops, brought me into connection with the clusters of clouds dissolving and reorganizing every second. Somehow they relate for me, the near and far, the substantial and the vaporous, the varied greens and the luminous whites. The pleasure of standing still for a minute to take in the world as it is.
I find this form of discovery a kind of play that is both serious and light handed, and it keeps my instrument tuned.
This road is one we have walked on almost every day for the last few years. The land rolls and dips and changes color with the seasons and the light. Some days it has a piercing blue sky and on others it is rain soaked and leaden, or rain bowed and glorious, and it never fails to lift my spirits. I salute it by raising the camera in acknowledgement, and saying thank you.