The Heart of Darkness was not Dark that Night
Near Bonnieux there is a town called Rousillion, famed for the red clay cliffs left there millions of years ago when the seas retreated. We decided to show our Italian friends a little local color, which, even on a grey day, is surprisingly intense. The place has a scale to it that always thrills me and makes me pay attention to the little things, could be just the small gesture of the woman reading the text and the way she carries her weight.
Perhaps it is the mass and the color that forms itself into a background for everyone appearing on the stage in front of it that projects the gesture so forcefully, even when so ordinary. I have seen it every time I visit there, whether it’s families, or school groups, or individuals, something always presents itself in this clear way.
The friend that accompanied Gianni and Giorgio didn’t hesitate to dig right in to the clay itself, and within a few minutes she was rubbing it into her hands and then all over her face. Like a native American Indian she felt the magical quality of being in the space and let it all work on her.
A gloomy, early in the morning walk to the bakery, gave me one of many goodbye images of Bonnieux. I loved the little slivers of warm light pulsing out into the misty matin. Sometimes color is so barely there, yet it exerts all its slender force in the visualizing of the moment. It’s the thing that makes me gasp, and the gasp is what wakes me up. I say to myself, “isn’t that beautiful?” Or I stop, and dwell in the realization that so small a note can make me come to a halt and breathe it in and take something small but special away with me.
Later in the day our friends Gianni and Giorgio, and a strange friend of Giorgio’s, who you’ll meet in another post I am sure, arrived to pack a truck full of our studio stuff, and our belongings. Their great good humor was as uplifting as the Tuscan spirit always is, and on a day that started so moodily, it was like beams of sunlight. They came for a few days to see our part of what was once Roman territory, a place that bears some special kind of harmony with our beloved part of Tuscany.
We were beginning to pack up the house we rented in Bonnieux in preparation for our return to Tuscany. This was a really great house, luxurious, generous, comfortable, but the odd thing was that the master bedroom had no real closet to hold a winter’s worth of clothes. Instead it had a row of hooks on the wall, which might seem strange given the overall quality of the house. But Maggie and I actually grew to like seeing the few things we came away with hanging, like an ‘installation’, or laundry, visible for us every day.
On this day I suddenly saw our wardrobe for what it was; a couple of city people living in the far reaches of Provence with all our city blacks. How strange we must have seemed to the locals as we changed from one shade of dark to another. But what pleased me here was that I now, after months of making still lives, saw it as just another arrangement of objects on a background, and wished I had looked harder earlier.