April 19, 2006

To The Hills!

This is the day! Sun is shining, no wind, air temp is perfect for a walk. So off I go with sketch stuff in backpack, camera in hand. Take a different path to the village, this one is gravel with no traffic allowed. I find a little wall to sit on and draw the hill that overlooks Ste Colombe, with houses grouped and scattered up the side. I'd driven it before and knew you could see Lac Montbel on the other side... but had put off walking it until conditions, including my legs, were all pointing in the right direction. I took lots of pics but will compose the tour when I get back home... enough to say, I was not disappointed. Didn't sketch, but like sketching vs photos, walking allows so much more to see than driving.

[The village campus of Cat'Art can be seen in this photo of Ste Colombe taken from the hill. It's located just beyond the row of plane trees and parking lot, mostly hidden by the trees. It's a group of buildings surrounding a center courtyard studded with sculptures of all kinds. Note the road leading toward the church/square... about half way up is the only little store in town. Ellie's (2nd) house is located in the little cluster of buildings on the upper right.]

I find going down is more of a challenge to my still slightly bruised knees than climbing up... but all is well and I make it back in as good shape as I went, just a whole lot warmer. A bit later Annette and I decide to head for Lavelanet for one more marked day, but it was not much of one compared to the last time we came. So we bought some bread and drove around town a bit... the villages are coming alive with window boxes and curtains blowing through open windows... such charm! And the weeds! The most beautiful weeds I've ever seen! Still lots of white blossomed trees, wish I could tell the difference... a lot of flowers I'm totally unfamiliar with on trees, shrubs and in the grass.

So, noticed a sign to Chateau Montsegur, the last holdout of the Cathar Monks, 1244, high on a pog (big rock of a mountain)... that such a place was built in the first place is a wonder! Where did they get their water??? And you can see it for miles and miles... how well hidden is that? So many questions... will have to spend time with Google when I return. Took a back road home and passed through more gorges, rushing streams, hidden villages, small roads turning into smaller roads, hair pin turns with no room for error... what a delightful day!

[afternote: I now learn that this structure dates from the 1600's and there are only traces of authentic former Cathar habitations just outside the present walls.]

Methinks I'll be spending the rest of the day in a much slower mode... yesterday was a good production day... working in my room really makes the difference. Creating lots of "essence paintings" on ricepaper with sumi ink... have some other thoughts I'll play with later today... will see what I have when I get home, if it's worth carrying any further... I think it will be.

[afternote: the 'essence' I seem to be most drawn to is that of the plane or platane trees, especially in their severely pruned state as is common in the area... much as we prune our crepe myrtles, but more so, as seen in the row of foreground trees in the village picture. This row of assorted efforts hung over my bed when I moved my work area to my room instead of the studio. I somehow became much more responsive with a worktable close at hand.]

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