Anyone who has gotten to know me even a little bit has probably pegged me as a tad, well… sentimental. It probably explains my weakness for 19th literature. I have tried to temper it with my writing (I should know better,damnit, than to let the center loosen). But once in a while, let me indulge. It’s a good release to not hold back.
As a photographer who cannot help but look at life through a lens—both literal and figurative—I, too, find myself engaged in several half-formed stories as I travel. My eye captures small vignettes that are impressed upon me. Sometimes they compose a story about a specific person, place or event. Other times, there is no story at all. Just a mosaic of brief brushings with life. These tiny little snapshots are precisely all I want to share with the world…for absolutely no reason at all.
Well, that’s not true, its reason is beauty.
Walter Pater once said, “Of this wisdom, the poetic passion, the desire of beauty,the love of art for art’s sake has most; for art comes to you professing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake .”
This line comes to me often when traveling. Not the least of which, my trip last week in southern France and Switzerland.
It is as simple as the handmade ceramic crocks from which they serve you yogurt and butter in the morning. Where do they go afterward? Do they return them to the farmer?
It’s actually seeing the restaurant chefs picking herbs and vegetables in the garden in the early morning hours, knowing it doesn’t get much fresher than that.
It’s the nearly muted patter of rain falling just a few feet from your table on a lazy afternoon while you stay perfectly dry and breath in the wet earth.
It is setting your eyes on Lac lu Monde for the first time.
It is hearty laugh of a two year old boy a couple tables down that make you briefly encounter the few regrets you still carry, even if you thought you had determinately discarded them from your life.
It is the town mutt, whom everyone seems to know quite well; they call him ‘assemblage.’
It is the desire for perfection by planning an ideal day, then watching it fall apart only to build itself into another unexpected form of splendor.
It is forcing yourself to try foie gras—yet again—for culture’s sake and wincing through it, wondering what’s wrong with you.
It’s the poppy flowers in the ditch, just being.
It is the lavender not yet realized, waiting to break open.
It is the yellow tin watering can sitting next to bright red hose and a green ladder.
It is the fragrant, gamey scent of the ’90 Fonsalette Syrah that has been waiting 20 years to meet a nose.
It is the way the shopkeepers and winemakers in Chateauneuf du Pape grip the bottle neck and actually clank the rim of your glass when pouring you a taste (what is that about?!).
It is a graveyard in Sierre, that if you didn’t look closely, you might mistake for a flower garden; absolutely stunning.
It is the variety of vases on the tables in a restaurant (some little tins, others handmade, others glass or wooden), each holding a collage of evidently handpicked flowers.
It is a painful conversation in broken French.
It is a song that snuggles itself perfectly between your ear and the landscape while riding the train from Southern France to Switzerland.
It is the lovers engaged in intense conversation.
It is those who look tired and hardly make eye contact.
It is the moment you realize how lucky you are to even experience these teeny tiny moments at all.
And then, it is recognizing that those moments are as accessible at home or work—everywhere. It is realizing I should remind myself to always live life as though each moment is a possible story—to open all my senses and savor each and every fleeting scene and sentence.