Coronapéro: partying during quarantine

Apéro
A group of my friends got together via Zoom for a virtual cocktail party, to see each others’ faces and hear our voices, to share our stories, and to spend a few minutes feeling a little less isolated.

 

Last night several friends and I used Zoom to gather for apéritifs—called apéro here in France. We’ve only been on lockdown for less than a week, and we already feel isolated, especially those of us who live alone. The Zoom party turned out to be a fine way to connect with our friends, hear each others’ stories, ask questions, and drink a toast to each other. < Clink! >

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The beach in winter

Dune 1
This miniature sand dune reminds me of a zebra. This is about three feet long, or just under one meter.

A day at the beach
Off we went on a gorgeous blue-sky Sunday, headed toward the coastal étangs southwest of Gruissan. An étang is a small lake or pond, quite often man-made for purposes such as agriculture, salt harvesting, or even medieval civic water projects. On this day, we parked just beyond the local saltworks (a salin), which has probably been in use since Roman times.

We walked along the narrow paths defining the rectangular ponds, eyeing pink flamingos in the distance. Eventually, we came to a wide expanse of wild beach. The day was cool, and we were happy to have the warm sun, also feeling lucky to not have the normal high winds.

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Fall foraging in the forest

Day's Harvest
One hour’s harvest of red pine mushrooms, also called saffron milk cap.

 

One hour’s harvest of red pine mushrooms, also called saffron milk cap.

Mushrooms and Chestnuts, or Champignons et Châtaignes
Last week we donned our “wet forest” walking clothes and drove up into the hills behind town, in search of the edibles our forests could offer that day. It had rained two days before, and rain brings thoughts of the mushrooms that will appear shortly afterward.

Our first parking spot was in an area of scrub oak and some tall pine trees. It was the pines that captured our attention, because they mark the place to search for the vivid orange Lactaire Délicieux, also known as red pine mushroom or saffron milk cap.

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You say hello, I say…

Striped Garlic Stripes
Lovely purple striped garlic, a regional specialty, home from the market and gracing my kitchen table.

It’s all in how you say hello
Or to be more precise, it’s all about the humanity in taking a moment to properly greet one another. A year ago, I wrote two posts about saying hello and saying goodbye, although those were really stories about interacting with people who crossed my path. In this post, I’m going to address the language itself.

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Going in circles

Photo Set
Left, one of a series of abstracts made of eggs, during the last light of a wintry sunset, titled “What’s the Point”. Right, an inviting plate of “Antibes Macarons.”

 

Circles, in words and pictures
Do you ever feel like you’re running around in circles? Who’s in your social circle? Do you get dark circles under your eyes? Do you get stressed out when you have to circle the correct answer?

I haven’t photographed any of those things, but I do photograph circles. It all began with the photo below right, “Scribed Circle.” We were walking along a street in Paris, I spotted this little scene, and a theme was born. I’m happy to report that eight years later, the scene is still there; if I’m in that part of town, I pay a visit to my partial circle.

Photo Set
I love the perfect circles that are etched into wood or stone or stucco by loosened pieces of the hardware that is used for holding window shutters open. It’s a delightful contrast of precise geometry with wabi-sabi impermanence. Left, “Sorèze Circles,” and right, “Scribed Circle.”

 

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The smell of fresh-baked bread

Cauduro Fresh Loaves
Can you smell it? Warm, freshly-baked bread cools on racks right after being taken from the ancient bread oven.

Nine hours of bread: part one
We began the day with a drive that climbed high into the hills north of town, taking increasingly tiny roads and finally arriving at the hamlet of Cauduro for their bread feast. I have a weakness for tiny roads and secrets to be discovered, and this day’s outing was a dandy example.

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