Sunday, February 12, 2012


I am not a photographer. I know this because I saw something of a terrible beauty tonight and yet I could not lift my camera from around my neck.

As some of you might be painfully aware, Europe has been hit with a cold snap. One that neither humans nor nature knows on a regular basis in this corner of Provence. Tonight, Remi wanted to take a drive in the Camargue, the immense swampy region and regional park to the south of Arles. It is austere under the best of conditions, I would have thought that we would be alone, as the temperatures had taken a dive to -12°C and yet no. The tiny back roads surrounding the Etang de Vaccares were as full as a Sunday in July, save that nearly every car had pulled over to take a photo of the frozen water (either an enormous pond or small lake depending on your opinion) as it was the first time that it had been frozen over since 1985. 

I wish that the ice, stopped as waves lining the shore, was the only issue. However, we spoke to a park ranger who had collected in the trunk of his car ten flamant roses or flamingos that had frozen. While we spoke, one flew over my head and perched nearby in a tiny pool where the ice had not yet taken its hold. My empathy got caught in my throat.

In parting we saw a flutter of pink at the side of the swamps. A flamingo wing. It was perfect in its shape and color, glowing against the faded background of the winter reeds. A supremely delicate contrast. And yet I couldn't capture it, too saddened by all we can't control and how little most of us do to protect our planet when we can...


  1. The park ranger is the hero here. I wonder what success he will have in caring for them once they have been so cold? And for every person who doesn't care, there is another one who does something about it, whether making others aware (as you have here) or by changing their behaviour to make more considered choices.
    And yet, over-riding all of this is nature's ultimate one-upmanship over humans - when natural wild forces remind us that we aren't as clever as we often think. Virginia x

  2. Thanks for these wonderful pictures Heather - just sorry that you are seeing so much of the down side and experiencing such low temps!!

    Here's to the weather lifting just a bit to allow life to go on unharmed!! Hope you have a roaring fire to cuddle in front of - cheers now Wyn

  3. We're down to ten degrees so far with high winds. Dylan was very quick tonight outside for which I'm hugely thankful. I'm so sorry for all the birds somethingg I never thought of before but I don't think it happens here. The water is gorgeous frozen in time I don't think I've ever seen a frozen wave.

    Stay warm!

  4. Fantastic images at dusk! Though sorry for poor creatures caught in cold.
    We have unusually mild winter in Toronto and many geese stayed, but now the ponds are frozen and in our area the announcement was published not to feed them , which is not helping but the opposite, to force them fly south as they normally do.

    Your images are getting better and better.

  5. I do understand your feelings. This Siberian cold over Europe is terrible. For lots of animals and also all the people who suffer. More than 400 people died over the last 2 weeks in Ukraine, Poland, and...and...and. Thinking also about all the homeless people.

    But - your photos are simply wonderful, Heather! You've captured the atmosphere.

    Bonne semaine and keep warm.

  6. The light is beautiful there. Amazingly we have escaped the cold snap - an absolute first!

  7. Oh no - how sad!! I visited the Camargue several years ago when we went to see my son who was studying in Aix at the time - I loved it's stark austere beauty. These crazy weather patterns are wreaking havoc with our ecosystem!!

  8. Thanks for your thoughts everyone! I agree with Stacey (Quintessence)--what on earth is going on?

  9. I found you via French Essence... What a beautiful blog. Our ecosystem has been stripped almost bare but every now again we are reminded of the immense beauty our world has to offer. Thank you for sharing

    Jo x
    Eliza Interiors & Design

  10. Heartbreaking for those pink wonders we have come to love... xv

  11. great photos! France was so beautiful in extreme cold!


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