i spent more than an hour trying to identify the fruit of this climbing vine. it turns out it is a kind of fig. with the sense of triumph of that only a scientist can feel at the successful identification of a species, i turned to my husband and said, “look! it’s a ficus pumila!!” he leaned down for a closer peek, and said, “look! it’s a uterus and a vagina!” we really do see eye to eye most of the time. but testosterone is testosterone.
ficus pumila, creeping fig
i could have oriented this semicircle to either the left or right. it seemed fitting to turn it left, like a close parenthesis, since we are steadily making our way toward the period at the end of the sentence of this latest stay in the languedoc. the first round of goodbyes started yesterday, and will take on increasing momentum until our departure in 10 days. some of our friends will insist on multiple goodbye apéros. just like the three-cheek greetings, it seems our departure calls for three-apéro goodbyes. this is our fourth visit to this tiny, rural village. and it was during our second trip that the villagers very subtly switched from saying “will you come back?” to “when will you come back?”. there is no real doubt in anyone’s mind that we will come back someday, likely sooner than later. so, the close-parenthesis may be a little melodramatic. but given how emotional i’m feeling about leaving this sane and quiet place, and returning to post-obama america, i think you should congratulate me on my restraint.
succulents from our terrace
we are starting to prepare for our return home. we have two weeks left. i know for most people, that sounds like a nice long vacation. but, i am feeling nothing but time running out. i have a house full of nature finds, and enough paper scraps from my collage work that i may need to hire a dumpster. i am heading back to sub-zero (fahrenheit mind you) weather, and a landscape covered in two feet of snow. i have done five winters of STILL images, so i shouldn’t be anxious. but, let’s face it, bare winter stems on a white background looks minimal and artsy. on a black background, it will be tricky. very tricky. so, like a squirrel preparing for winter, i am scurrying around and photographing everything i see on my new black tagboard. these geraniums grow in pots that line our terrace here in autignac. they are still blooming in january. which is a reason to be joyful about living here right now. and another reason to feel panicky about the approach of our departure date. there are no geraniums in minnesota right now.
whew. launch days, or in this case, re-launch days, always make me a little nervous. so many last minute loose ends and last minute tweaks. i always end up with a lot of nervous energy, and not a lot to do but monitor for hiccups. all in all, yesterday went pretty smoothly. just one little glitch with pinterest that i am hopeful we will shortly smooth out. otherwise, a successful relaunch day. you all were so loving and encouraging. i really appreciate it more than you can possibly know. i did get a few mourners who will miss the white, but even that was a tribute of sorts to five years of dedicated work. so, one great big huge mediterranean three-cheek kiss (the special-occasion kind) to all of you! you make this labor of love so much about love and so little about labor. thank you.
an assemblage of some of my favorite languedocien collections
i am expecting a range of reactions to this post, from “oh, yes!” to “oh, no!” but, yes or no, this is the new STILL blog. after five straight years of daily photographs in the same format on the same white background, i needed to make some kind of change. but i couldn’t bear the thought of leaving behind the exhilarating daily practice of STILL blog, nor the way it required me to be present and observant in nature, nor the way it brought me in contact with a world of creative, supportive, inspiring, and affirming colleagues, followers, and friends. i have spent the better part of the last couple of years trying to figure out what STILL 2.0 should look like. one obvious solution was simply to switch the background from white to black, which seemed too obvious for a while, until I took my first actual photo on a black background (this breathtaking queen anne’s lace), and suddenly several years of new possibilities opened up. the new black background will lend itself to new subjects, new colors (it was nearly impossible to photograph white objects on a white background), and new, more emotionally nuanced compositions. the new format will be divided into three galleries or realms: the realm of “day” of “night” and of “dawn.” all of my prior five years of white images will be available and archived in the “day” gallery. all of my new images on a black background will accumulate in the “night” gallery. and my new project, a collage-a-day challenge, will be featured in the “dawn” gallery (as in “dawn of a new era”). there is more information about this new project in the gallery itself. i think this new format is gorgeous, and will lend itself to a newly expansive vision of what STILL blog can be, while hewing to its original vision of pared-down minimalism that encourages everyone to be still for a part of every day, and look at one thing at a time. i hope you love it, and if you don’t love it yet, i hope you will give yourself time to fall in love. whatever you think, I’d love to hear from you, whether in the comments section, or by email. thank you all for spending these last five years with me, and adding kindness and magic to my days.