"Can you feel it?" Remi asked. We were standing in our courtyard with glasses of wine in hand at the end of the day and faces turned upwards. Because we can often read each others thoughts, I knew what he meant. "Um-hmm," I responded. The shift had already started to occur.
August 15th is a holiday for the L'Assomption de Marie in France, just as in Italy it is the Ferragosto. In Provence, the date holds a more practical meaning - the end of the big vacation period when the highways are declared a "journée noir" with traffic jams that can stretch out over hundreds of kilometers, an event which is usually accompanied by a change in temperature. Often it is then that the big storms will roll in as if to thunder-clap proclaim, "L'été est bientôt fini! It is time for you all to go back to your workaday lives!"
But these photos were taken before, right when the season was at its zenith.
Remi wanted to retrace some of our favorite spots here in the Alpilles for a project that he is working on (that I will tell you about soon) and asked if I wanted to come along. Especially as it was predicted to be yet another day when the temperatures were expected to reach 100°F, the prospect of seeing beautiful scenery while ensconced in the only air-conditioning available (our car), I responded with a cheerful, "Yes, but let's take the boys too." I think that by that point, we all were a little tired of being closed up, literally, in our shuttered home in retreat from the spindly heat, a little outing would do us good.
I was right. I love our Provence.
The light was slicing bright and the air so dry that it seemed to hover slightly over the parched yellow grasses. The sky was too blue, also just out of reach and we all felt the need to retreat into patches of shade from time to time. A deserved break from the zig-zag lines of a brash summer day.
I was shooting blind, unable to see my camera's reflections, aided by Remi's estimates about what my settings should be. And so these photos all look too stark to me - slightly unreal - and just as I have been longing for relief from the heat, so too am I ready for a little kindness on the eyes.
Happily, it is here. Or the promise of it is. August 15th did not let us down this year and that shift that we sensed is upon us, leaving us scrambling to bring in the cushions during a surprise evening rain yesterday and shifting our timing so as to get back from the garden before nightfall falling faster. Sunsets have returned. I feel like I can think again but have loved these languorous last days.
Instead of the song of the cigales, I can now just barely discern a quiet ticking of time numbered.
It is quite something, our connections to the seasons, isn't it? Apparently, our clocks are not so internal after all.