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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Wildflowers + Bees = Spring!

On Thyme Bee
Thyme starts flowering in mid-winter, and bees are always happy to visit sweet new flowers. This one is titled “On Thyme Bee.”

Wildflowers in the garrigue
Spring has been teasing us this year, sprinkling a few days of warm sunshine into a cauldron of high winds, cloudy days, and occasional rain. This has all paid off nicely, though, with an abundance of long-lasting wildflowers.

But first, what’s a garrigue?
I live in the garrigue of southern France, and like any other environment, it leaves its mark on those who live here; for me, this is especially true of the look of the land and the smells and tastes of this region.

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Southeast Asia

Spent
A colorful cluster of artificial flowers artfully placed near a well-worn wall.

I spent the Christmas and New Year holidays with my cousins, who live in Singapore. They’d invited me for a visit, and did a stellar job of hosting me, showing me around Singapore and bustling me off to Malaysia for a week. I offer you a rewrite of a few scribbled diary-like notes, plus some photographs that cannot begin to convey the atmosphere. If only I could figure out how to create a digital scratch-and-sniff photograph that could move beyond rich visuals to include multi-sensory scratches for the strange and tantalizing scents, the mix-tape of sound, myriad flavors, and the heavy weight of non-stop heat and humidity.

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Days of wine and onions

Vendange
Of course I knew that vendange was coming, the season of grape-harvesting. If nothing else, new signs had begun to appear on the local roads, warning drivers to be extra alert. Nonetheless, I was unprepared for the number and variety of grape-harvesting trucks tooling down the road. Some of the trucks are small, the ones that putter along at the pace of a horse-drawn cart, carrying a payload of grapes on their way to becoming wine. Those aren’t the trucks that startled me.

I was driving along one day, minding my own business, when around the bend came a giant beast of machinery. It was tall, oddly shaped, and slightly menacing. It was moving slowly and ever so deliberately, with focus and purpose. I kid you not, I completely expected to see Jeff Goldblum (Buckaroo Banzai) jump out of the cab. These are the grape harvesting machines, and they’re shaped the way they are so that they can move down a row of vines and harvest grapes from both sides.

Vendanges
Views of the back and front of the same grape harvester. The beast moves slowly enough that after I passed it, I had enough time to find a place to pull off the road and get out of the car with my camera. Below right, one of many signs warning drivers to be on the alert for harvesting machinery on the road.

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