Two Photographs; not more than 20 feet and 30 seconds apart
Life is Sweet
This was a day of generosity. In a nearby small town I came across this beautiful bunting wrapped, church doorway. No doubt ready for a procession for a saint’s day, or a wedding, or who knows what festive event the town was making, but it made me happy just looking at the way the space was redefined by some simple fabric hanging on the facade.
Then, returning home, a bounty of offerings appeared; Silvia came by with a cake she just baked, then her mother-in-law stopped by with some fresh ricotta she had made from the new sheep they recently bought, then a man from Buonconvento, on the way to his sister’s place, stopped by to bring us a box of figs from his amazingly productive tree. All that, and some eggplants from the garden, which I roasted and turned into baba ganouj became a summer dinner. And a still life, and a portrait of a building. You work with what you have.
Life is sweet!
Living on a farm in Tuscany offers in its solitude few distractions from the basic simplicity of daily life. Not like living in a city where just stepping out the door onto Broadway, or any lively street in a city, throws marvelous and unexpected chaos at one non stop. I find living on the farm is more of a slowed down and mediative experience, so that something even as ordinary as putting food on a plate and bringing it to the table can offer a moment to be startled by its humble beauty.
By accepting this I found myself responding the simple language of poetry, in which an accounting of what is in front of me serves to bring me to consciousness. That perception, more than making a great image, is preparation for what may appear next. And since photography is always dealing with the momentary – in which we never can imagine what is coming next – these small moments of attentiveness are really all we have.
Summertime means simple meals. We were lucky that summer to be eating out of the farmer’s garden nearly every day. A broth of vegetables and lentils, some steamed zucchini, fresh tomatoes, edible flowers to embellish the tops of anything we wished, some locally baked crackers. This kind of eating makes me want to photograph every meal, and sometimes I do. More of a record than art, but simplicity is what it demands.