Maggie and I made a ‘line’ book during our first year in Europe when we started this new life of ours, now in its third year. That book made it the whole 365 days and was a daily challenge and also fun. The concentration, the materials, the unexpected lines that appeared, all proved that the very simplest gesture – a line – could sustain our interest for a whole year.
Early Silent Night
Looking down on a small town often lets me feel the ‘sense of place’ that gives a locality its identity. Bonnieux has that quality; the butcher, the bakery, the newsstand, the market, the city hall, the church, all these basics set in an almost storybook perfection in a landscape of simple beauty. It is immensely fulfilling.
Silo, Birdhouse, Power station, Pump house? Who knows what its function was or is, but it puzzled me every time I passed it. Sitting there out in the countryside, at a junction in the road, the only landmark of its kind, I finally had to stop the car and give it a moment of my time. I never figured out what it was.
December in Provence is when the farmers and vineyard workers burn the cuttings from the harvest. Smoke signals rise everywhere in solemn flags of grey, wafting wherever breeze or cool air convection draws them, often mingling with other pyres in the valley and laying down a screen of fragrant mist.
These fires are part of the ancient rhythms of agriculture as it bows to the seasons, and it is a reminder that practices such as these are as old as mankind.
I drove half way across Tuscany to visit a printer outside of Florence, and on the way back, this was two years ago, a torrential storm, un diluvio, they say here, swept across the region destroying bridges, sinking towns and farmland, destroying late crops, a real disaster. Of course while I was driving it was only a storm, but it was intense and unlike anything I had seen here before. Even the locals said not since 1966 had there been this kind of weather. And then it had flooded Florence and destroyed artworks, national treasures and landmarks.
Tough driving and shooting too!