finding the sea

January 5, 2014

A short bus ride to the south of Nimes lie the Étangs which form part of the only commune in the Gard to have frontage to the sea – where the beaches spread out from the small port of le Grau du Roi. In this landscape, reed covered marshes interlock with large cultivated areas as well as the stretches of salt pans that produce thousands of tonnes of salt a day at harvest time.

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Following a storm surge from the Rhone in 17C, a wide channel was formed, eventually made into a canal, creating a direct link to Aigues -Mortes to the north. In the port eclectic buildings line the south facing side of the channel  . . .

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. . .  a flashy intervention seems to have happened on the apex of the hôtel above but the old lighthouse retains a modest charm. Across the bay to the west sits la Grande-Motte with the show off architecture by Jean Balladur. He drew inspiration from the  pre-Columbian pyramids of Teotihuacan – Mexico – and modern architecture in Brazil, especially in the works of architect Oscar Niemeyer. Quite like it from a distance – but only as such. Within, it felt like a retirement complex in Florida.

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Elements within the port and the beaches offer up close quarter delights in the sharp light of a winter’s day  . . .

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. . and as the cirrus clouds waft overhead, their cumuli cousins await over the horizon. Ernest Hemingway liked this place enough to write some of The Garden of Eden here. I liked it too.  Au revoir et à bientôt.

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“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway  The Garden of Eden.

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

en camargue

September 21, 2012

A stand of flamingoes in the Pont de Gau Ornothological Centre in the Camargue. Why won’t pink show truly on photographs? But I like the descriptive noun which describes exactly a grouping of these pre historical looking birds.

A good threesome . . .

. .  and even better twosome . . .

. . . and making a heart! The tamarix flowers match up with a colourful second flowering.

Now the a pair grey herons want to disguise themselves and nearly succeed.

Beautiful horses in the sea lavender landscape. Then we escape the mosquitoes and flee to the beach at Ste. Maries de la Mer.

A hundred mares, all white! their manes
Like mace-reed of the marshy plains
Thick-tufted, wavy, free o’ the shears:
And when the fiery squadron rears
Bursting at speed, each mane appears
Even as the white scarf of a fay
Floating upon their necks along the heavens away.

O race of humankind, take shame!
For never yet a hand could tame,
Nor bitter spur that rips the flanks subdue
The mares of the Camargue. I have known,
By treason snared, some captives shown;
Expatriate from their native Rhone,
Led off, their saline pastures far from view:

And on a day, with prompt rebound,
They have flung their riders to the ground,
And at a single gallop, scouring free,
Wide-nostril’d to the wind, twice ten
Of long marsh-leagues devour’d, and then,
Back to the Vacares again,
After ten years of slavery just to breathe salt sea

For of this savage race unbent,
The ocean is the element.
Of old escaped from Neptune’s car, full sure,
Still with the white foam fleck’d are they,
And when the sea puffs black from grey,
And ships part cables, loudly neigh
The stallions of Camargue, all joyful in the roar;

And keen as a whip they lash and crack
Their tails that drag the dust, and back
Scratch up the earth, and feel, entering their flesh, where he,
The God, drives deep his trident teeth,
Who in one horror, above, beneath,
Bids storm and watery deluge seethe,
And shatters to their depths the abysses of the sea. George Meredith The Mares of the Camargue

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