paradox of choice
i believe strongly in the paradox of choice. the theory goes that having too many options is not freeing but actually stressful, because it catches you up in a cycle of worrying that you may not be making just exactly the right choice from among so many nearly identical possibilities. one nice thing about southern france is that certain things are “done” and certain other things are “not done.” especially when it comes to food and cooking. certain mushrooms are cooked a certain way. lemon verbena has two growth cycles a year and must be pruned accordingly. little saltwater fish get fried and eaten whole. quince get turned into quince jellies. and padron peppers get blistered in olive oil until they char and wilt, and then are served with a dusting of sea salt. they are always good and they never change. call it the paradox of limitations.
spanish padron peppers (pementos de padrón)
while cleaning up my lunaria scraps from the floor after yesterday’s STILL photo, i made this dreamy little sculpture. i ordered some extra fine gauge copper wire on amazon.fr to make it into a wall hanging. but first i had to translate extra-fine gauge copper wire into french—bare fil de cuivre extra fin. thank you google. or as it is pronounced here in france, goo-GUELL.
during the times in my life when i don’t live close to nature i tend to have “places” where i go during the day. the grocery store, the post office, the cafe, the restaurant. i am in search of a particular product or a particular experience and i go to some “place.” but when i’m living closer to the natural world, i also have “spots.” they are not places. people aren’t waiting there to welcome me and sell me something. they are little hidden corners, where i know something grows. morel hunters have “spots” they check every spring. fishermen have walleye “spots” in the middle of featureless lakes. there are, and always have been, “spots” where the underwater spring wells up from the rock, or where the bees are making wild honey this year, or the blueberries are bigger and juicier. i have a lunaria spot. it is beside the orb river, down a rutted path, along vineyard, and near a bridge. that is all i will tell you. but there are lunaria there. we just went for one of our visits to my spot, and there they were.
trees as company
yesterday, while flickering through another long alley of thick trunked plane trees on the way from one village to lunch, i was reminded of a thought i often have in the presence of certain trees. they comfort me. not just because they’re beautiful and not because they are constantly inhaling our combusted carbon, but because some of them are presences as welcoming as a light in a window and smoke rising from the chimney. in this part of the world, a row of plane trees says, first of all, “welcome to the south, here’s some shade.” but it also means that people took the time to plant very inconvenient and long-lived trees right beside the road in part because in 50 years they would be beautiful. in their presence i always feel calm and somehow cared for. plane trees are good company.
plane tree bark
an exception to every rule
one of my rules is “no manmade objects in a still blog composition.” another of my rules, as i have mentioned several times before, is “all rules are made to be broken.” in this case, the bundles are wine-soaked vine branches used as filters inside the fermentation vats of our friends, andre and veronique balliccioni. you will notice that they are tied tight by various types of fasteners, including string, twine, and, most endearingly of all, torn strips of t-shirt. i am in love with the whole package, and so today you are going to have to deal with a manmade object in a still blog compostion.
wine-stained grape vine bundles