Monday, September 28, 2009

Ocean silence

My short trip to Brittany is drawing to an end. Yesterday afternoon, we returned to the cliffs of Plouha to inspect the work being carried out by François on his future home. He hasn't yet completed the electrical wiring and plumbing, which means that he carries on residing at Christine's place in nearby Gommenec'h. Meanwhile, he has built a totally new upper floor, which will be his bedroom and office. He has installed a pair of large roof windows, which open out onto a magnificent ocean view. François has already set up a chair and a makeshift table on which he has posed a telescope, purchased for ten euros in a second-hand shop. Clearly, he has spent quite some time peering out over the waters, because he seems to have acquired precise knowledge concerning the appearance and daily behavior of the small boats that drift around there for one reason or another.

There's an atmosphere of misty solitude, silence and peace… which reminds me of my cliffs and mountains at Gamone.

The path along the top of the cliffs used to be the regular itinerary of customs inspectors on the lookout for smugglers. François tells us that local folk are aware of the existence of tracks, hidden beneath the ferns and bushes, that lead down to the edge of the water, but it would be dangerous to search for them, since the cliffs are often abrupt.

Moving cautiously to the edge of the path, you can glimpse a tiny pebble beach alongside jagged rocks that are the home of cormorants and gulls. But the only access to this beach would be from the water.

This tiny rocky island has a curious name, Mauve, which has nothing to do with its color. It's funny to think that, beyond the horizon, the English Channel is one of the world's busiest ocean itineraries.

For the Skyvington family, the custom officers' track is rapidly becoming one of our busiest photographic itineraries.

On the way back to house, I made the remark that it's a setting I would like to rediscover in winter, when the sea and sky are the color of steel, and the fields are icy.

I've spoken of silence. In fact, one hears constantly the soft eternal sound of water lapping up rhythmically against the rocks. One imagines this magnificent site, too, in a tempest. I have a sudden vision of the past, with uniformed customs men slipping and sliding on the damp stones as they pursue, shouting, a fleeing smuggler, who finally disappears into the thicket. Truly, it's a place that stirs constantly the visitor's imagination.

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