one of our favorite plants here is the prunelle, known in english as the sloe. as in sloe gin. as in the source of perhaps more vile hangovers among american adolescents than blackberry brandy and maybe even (but probably not) captain morgan. in southern france they make a liqueur out of prunelles that our next door neighbor, jean-luc, assures us is one of life’s great pleasures. my husband plans to try to make some later this year, with jean-luc’s help, and i’m just hoping i don’t have to rub his back and hold his hair out of the way all night long, as he leans over the toilet, and tells me over and over how much he loves me, and how he will never do anything like this again.
p.s. happy autumnal equinox everyone!
my very first test shot, to decide whether or not i would undertake something i was vaguely thinking of as “STILL blog,” four and half years ago, was a close up of the head of one of these enormous thistles we call wild teasel in the states. i had clipped it at the base of the stem and turned it over on its side. i photographed it against a white background so that it looked like a giant alien arachnid. that’s sort of the origin of all of this. i can still find the field, west of here, around a bend in a narrow country road, where i found the field full of teasel that took my breath away. i loved that feeling. i loved that photo. i still love both.
cabaret des oiseaux (wild teasel)
autignac, languedoc, france
this is the first step in an experiment about the minimum number of objects necessary to define a place. there are fifteen objects here that all speak to me about the languedoc, and more specifically about this tiny subregion of the hérault department located in the languedoc where we currently find ourselves. each object has both subjective and objective meaning. in other words, each object truly belongs, objectively, in this place, and at the same time these objects have stories associated with them that are subjective to me personally, and that amount to a kind of love song from mary jo to the part of the languedoc that runs from the foothills of the espinouse mountains to the mediterranean shoreline between sète and marseillan-plage. the next question is, how many of these could i remove and still have the images define this specific place, without also defining some other, similar place. hmmm. ok here we go…
cypress cone, grapes, land snail, wild carrot, sea glass, wild blackberry, beach rock, wild teasel, thyme, olives, shells, fig leaf thistle, lunaria, wild fennel
my right brain is saying, look at all the weathered imperfection. look at the tumbled beauty. look at the endless color variations. my left brain is saying, square. make it square. tuck in that corner there. not square yet. needs to be square.
worn shell pieces
the mediterranean beach between sète and marseillan plage, france
wild oats are native to eurasia and therefore native to here, as are so many of the plants we see growing like weeds around us. there is wild fennel along every roadside. fig trees pop up along every untended field and fencerow. i just passed two wild quince trees on my drive to the butcher. there is a neglected pomegranate tree on the way to joe’s school. and if you look across the landscape you will see the jagged silhouettes of almond trees. is it any wonder that a great cuisine sprang up out of a place that reminds you of food everywhere you look?
common wild oats (avena fatua )
autignac, languedoc, france