Monday, April 26, 2010

Vue Panoramique

Along the highways and byways of France, there are road signs that always catch our attention.  They read:  Vue Panoramique.  Printed on arrows,  they point this way or that.  Who could resist?

"Argenton" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Watercolor on Paper  

In the petite village of Argenton, we get out of the car, explore the interior of a church and exit by way of a huge oak door adorned with fanciful hinges.  We stand in a courtyard and admire the sweeping view.  Ah, deep and lovely breaths of French air and the satisfaction of, well, magnificence. We've never been disappointed with  la promesse of panorama.  Except for one occasion.   We dutifully followed yet another sign, walking and panting our way up the hills.  We came across a field of sheep who stopped munching on sweet French grass and  blankly stared at us.  Then we stumbled upon an abandoned hamlet. This really excited our imagination.  We walked past miles, it seemed, of woodland.  Utterly exhausted, we finally turned around in search of (please, God!) flat ground.  We never found the elusive "view" and wondered if it was someone's idea of a joke.  Yet that never-ending hike gave us an intimacy with le paysage that we would have otherwise missed out on. 
France on Foot: Village to Village, Hotel to Hotel: How to Walk the French Trail System on Your Own

Nothing beats a good walk in France, vue ou non.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Le Tournesol

"In the Woods" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Acrylic and Gouache on Paper

Although the trees limbs are still bare and there's a chill in the air, the soil has finally softened.   I've been happily working away dans le jardin - edging my garden beds with stones I collect from the woods.  The effect pleases me.  This will be a special summer.   We recently cut down many trees due to having become, over the years, overgrown by moss.  I anticipate for the very first time in this home setting:  La lumière du soleil.  And a ton of sunshine-friendly flowers to follow!

"L'amour de la Fleur" by Linda Hampton Smith.  Watercolor on Paper

Which brings to mind: Le Tournesol.  I've never,  jamais, ever been able to grow sunflowers because of the shade.  Now here's my chance!  I've been studying seed packets in the stores.  La variété est grande.

Sonja Sunflower - Seed Packet

Sunflower Moulin Rouge 50 Seeds per Packet

Sunflower Giant Sungold 50 Seeds per Packet

I'm envisioning Provence in my own backyard!