there are a lot of beloved trees here in the south of france. olive, cypress, almond, fig, kermes oak, plane trees. but there aren’t many towering trees. everything here, including the citizenry, seems to reach a certain diminutive height, and then decide that it’s too hot to work on growing any bigger. but the atlas cedar is like a football linebacker who just walked into a first grade classroom. it looks as if it can’t quite understand how it got here, nor how it is that no one in the room even comes up to its belt buckle.
atlas cedar limb
one of my favorite things about making these big assemblages is that the whole family gets together to put them slowly and painstakingly in place, with much adjusting and disagreeing and opinion giving. it is a double gathering. a gathering of materials from a particular era of collecting, and a gathering of family to help express what the collection wants to say. this one happens to be the culmination of 4 months of gathering in southern France, since our arrival in mid-august. in that time we have sent our daughter off to college and seen her return. i have taken up collage as a new path to wander down for a while. our son has found his footing in a french middle school. and we have taken several steps deeper into the world of this region we love. the objects in this photo have been littering our floors and most other horizontal surfaces in the house for months, and photographing them and returning them to nature is like saying goodbye to a group of good friends. and, as a matter of fact, like saying goodbye to a year that has just passed. or like saying goodbye to 5 years of still blog. the end of an era. the beginning of a new one.
four months of collecting
i could try to understand why these mediterranean shells appear to break so consistently in a half-moon shape just inside their outer rim. or i could decide that shells break in every conceivable fashion and my focus happened to land on 13 half moons one evening. the universe is planned? the universe is random? my 80 year old mom happens to be visiting us right now. she’d say, “oh honey, who cares? i’m making a coffee and go have a cigarette on the deck, if you want to join me.”
a shapely chocolate swirl on a placid pond of caramel. looks good enough to eat.
magnolia and eucalyptus
some tree bones, polished by the orb river during the spring crest, and left on shore during the summer ebb, for any passing american gatherers who might be interested.
orb river, languedoc, france