The Cournouze is like an old lady (or a young lady, for that matter) who has wrapped her shoulders in a white woolen shawl.
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This is the first time this winter that a little snow has settled onto the slopes of our Bourne valley.
Anecdote. I was amused to discover, this morning, that my external surveillance camera looks upon every falling snowdrop as a potentially undesirable intruder. That’s to say, during the early hours of the morning, the camera emailed me a pile of uninteresting warning snapshots composed of big white blobs.
I took this lovely photo (untouched) from my bathroom window about an hour ago.
In my title, the term "sunset" is misleading, since we're actually looking towards the east, and the sun is setting behind us. But the last rays of the setting sun have hit the clouds above the Cournouze, producing the pastel hues seen in the photo.
Earlier on, towards the end of the afternoon, we had a short hailstorm at Gamone. It was interesting to see the seven donkeys racing down the hill to their shed, to seek shelter from the shower of tiny hailstones.
This afternoon, I took two photos from the same spot: my bathroom window. In both cases, my Nikon was pointed in more-or-less the same direction: out onto the valley of the Bourne and the Cournouze mountain. The first photo was taken in the middle of the afternoon, when a storm was brewing. In the space of ten minutes, the sky had suddenly turned black.
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Then the rain fell. Finally, the sun reappeared, and the second photo was taken twenty minutes ago.
Meanwhile, the week-old heat wave had come to a spectacular end.
PS Both photos were obtained with the automatic settings on my Nikon D70s (that's to say, in both cases, I simply pointed and pushed the button), and the published images are totally-untouched screen dumps.
People who live in the vicinity of cliffs and mountains soon discover the powerful beauty of straight lines, which determine the trajectories of both light and sound. Early every morning, when I wander up the road with Fitzroy for our habitual 20-minute excursion (giving the dog an opportunity to do his poo, generally on the neighbor's territory), there's a surprising moment when Fitzroy suddenly halts, gazes down into the valley, and acts for half-a-minute as if he were expecting a motor vehicle to appear on the scene. The explanation is simple, although the abundant foliage tends to conceal the facts. Over a short section of our itinerary (no more than a few meters), a straight line connects us to the main road down alongside the Bourne. And if, by chance, a vehicle happens to be moving along the road at that moment, then we can hear the sound of it quite clearly, creating the impression that this vehicle might indeed be heading up the road towards Gamone. Funnily, Fitzroy seems to have realized by now that the ghost vehicle, whose presence he has sensed, is only an illusion, and that there's no point in lying flat alongside the road to await its arrival. But he stills gets tricked for a few seconds, whenever our arrival at that spot coincides with the passage of a vehicle down in the valley. I don't know what kinds of principles of mathematics and physics float around in Fitzroy's mind, but I feel that he has mastered the problem from a pragmatic viewpoint.
Straight lines were invented, as it were, by Euclid, who flourished in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I, some three centuries before the start of the Christian era. In Euclidean geometry, the very first axiom postulates that a straight line can be drawn from any point to any other point. But the universe seems to have mastered the question of straight lines well before Euclid started to think about them... although we now know that a so-called straight line is a simplified version of more generalized entities called geodesics, which play a fundamental role in general relativity.
In our villages, towns and cities, straight lines are relatively recent artificial constructions. In the beginning, most village lanes had lots of bends in them, like creeks and rivers. In Paris, the civic planner Georges-Eugène Haussmann [1809-1891] spent a colossal amount of public money in the creation of straight avenues, ostensibly so that troops would find it easier (if need be) to handle throngs of rioters. And even today, many Parisians speak of this self-proclaimed "Baron" as if he had committed an unforgivable sin in straightening and widening the thoroughfares of the city.
Personally, I'm horrified by the Euclidean linear layouts of cities in the New World, particularly when the streets are numbered and labeled as north, south, east or west. On the contrary, I'm always awed to discover, on late summer evenings, that the setting Sun has succeeded in finding a linear itinerary through the slopes above Pont-en-Royans enabling our faithful star to illuminate the limestone cliffs of the Cournouze, for a few fleeting minutes, with a warm reddish glow. Euclid imagined that all straight lines are basically of the same nature. As for me, I prefer those of Choranche to those, say, of Manhattan. And, if we were to think of Euclid's straight line as an abstract archaic god (why not?), we might say that its temple is Stonehenge.
This is a recent specimen of a red Cournouze photo (untouched by Photoshop in any way whatsoever), taken from my bathroom window:
[Click to enlarge]
Here, taken on the same day, is a telephoto shot of the white blob in the first photo:
The "blob" is in fact the village of Châtelus. That's their church on the left. The big white building on the right, which shares a common wall with the church, is the municipal office and official residence of the mayor of Châtelus. In fact, since the present mayor has his own house about a kilometer away, the official residence is rented out to ordinary citizens.
Late this afternoon, when I caught sight of extraordinary hues in the valley, I grabbed my Nikon and took the following shot from the bathroom window:
My motivations behind this photo [click to enlarge] were actually a little more complicated, and confused. While opening the bathroom window to take a look at the dogs, I glimpsed the blurry mirror image of the Huillier houses in Châtelus, at the foot of the Cournouze. The two on the right, one superimposed on the other, gave the impression of the presence of a Byzantine chapel with a tower. I realized immediately that the extraordinary reddish light was playing tricks on me.
A quarter of an hour ago, viewed from my bathroom window, the Cournouze looked this:
Within five minutes, the cloud layer was starting to reflect the pale light of the rising sun upon the trees on the slopes of the valley of the Bourne.
Five minutes later, the Technicolor show was over. One has to act rapidly to obtain images such as these. Often I say to myself that my Antipodes blog has started to instill in me something akin to the reflexes (but not, alas, the skills) of a photographer.
Gazing up at the Cournouze mountain, above the villages of Choranche and Châtelus, I'm often reminded of this song by Jean Ferrat:
During the '60s and '70s, when I was living in Paris, there were three renowned poet-singers: Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Léo Ferré. Alongside that prestigious trio, Jean Ferrat could be thought of as the Fourth Musketeer. The TV host Michel Drucker, learning of Ferrat's death today, referred to him as the Last of the Mohicans.