Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: The Pictures

Because the pictures are the good stuff, and there wasn't all that much good stuff in 2010. If I have come out of this year with a single insight, it is that two of the most important elements in my life at the moment are love and beauty, and, while we can't command the former to appear, we can at least seek out the latter. I managed to do a fair share of that last year, mostly through the lens of my camera. I'm the first to say that I'm not a very good photographer, but I'll also admit that I've put myself into places this year where all I really had to do was push the button.

The following images are subject to my rassling with software. The photos from the first half of the year are entombed in iPhoto, and I can't figure out how to get them out. Around May, I finally figured out that this was impractical for the sake of the blog, which is the only thing I take pictures for at the moment, so I invented another filing system. The other software is Photoshop Elements, which I'm gingerly feeling my way into. I have a need to watch over the shoulder of someone who knows what they're doing with this thing, which is how I learned computers in the first place. But I've known some of the basics for a while, so I managed to adjust the color and sharpen this and that on copies of some of the pictures I've taken and even crop a couple of them.

This selection was easy to make, though: I've got my desktop picture on the computer set to cycle the photos I've taken this year, and so I've been looking at them (and, from time to time, deleting them) over and over. These are the ones I've liked the best, and it was surprising how many of them I haven't   posted before.

I'm really hoping to get out into the Languedoc's widely varied terrains more in the coming year, so next year's selection should be even harder to make. Meanwhile, here are these.

* * *

In Mid-May, I became very restless and got on the train and headed to Béziers. I've since met someone who lives there, and she claims it's astonishingly dull. That's believable, but somehow, my shutter finger went wild in its streets. I've still got to look more closely at some of the shots I took. For instance, I have no idea why this picture fascinates me so: I took it from three angles, and this one's the keeper.

I also managed to see a bunch of circles there:

A former wine shop, and...

cheese ads.

In early June, a photographer arrived to take my picture for the AARP magazine. It astonished me how much money magazines are willing to waste. This guy is really good, and he spent a few weeks touring Europe for a story they were putting together on the best places to retire. I contributed some words to the story (the writer never left New York), and showed the photographer around Montpellier and, on one memorable day, we took a drive, where, in Sommières, we wound up at a neighborhood feast. But we also hit Pic St. Loup, the nearest mountain visible from Montpellier,

drove through a village that had just finished running the bulls (this guy was too young and had to stay home),

and wound up in St.-Martin-de-Londres, a sleepy, ancient village.

In the end, AARP barely used any of his photos, including, fortunately for the magazine's readers, the several hundred of the ones he shot of me at the Saturday market.

July brought a bunch of visitors. First came the invasion of the gorgeous folksingers.

Although, to be frank, only two of the folksingers were gorgeous, the third isn't in this picture (he was arranging a trip to the countryside), and the guy in the middle sells cheese for a living when he's not giving it away to folksingers busking at the Saturday market.

A couple of weeks later, two friends from Berlin showed up, and we wound up in a 14-year-old Volkswagen driving one of the most insane roads I've ever encountered, to and from the Cirque de Navacelles. It's a tribute to how nice Andi (who drove) is that he's still speaking to me. But even beyond how remote Navacelles itself is, it showed me that there are small villages just everywhere around here. This one is near Navacelles, but I'm not sure exactly where or what it is.

My guess is that wine or fruit trees are involved.

August means St. Roch gets his trip around his old 'hood, but it's about time someone fixed up the oratory dedicated to him across town: he's missing a hand and his poor dog's missing his head. But this is the corner, allegedly, where he was arrested while sitting on a bench resting (see the link for details).

In October, I went on my only Epic Walk of the year, from my front door to the nasty little village of Jacou, where Tram #2 ends. I'm actually fairly sure that there's a nice center to Jacou, but by the time I got there I was exhausted and unwilling to find it. But before that, I walked a hazardous, traffic-filled road above Castelneau-le-Lez and shot the Lez River rolling along, some farm buildings, and, off in the distance, old Pic St. Loup.

So now it's a new year, and I'm hoping that for all of us it'll be a less trying, more enriching one. I'm still out there looking for love and beauty, and if you are, too, I wish you success.

Now to get to work on that.


  1. I always enjoy seeing what you've been seeing and hearing what you got up to - happy New Year, Ed!

  2. Happy New Year to you, too, Ed! And yeah, here's to hoping for a lot more love and beauty in 2011 than what was on offer (particularly the "love" part to be honest) in 2010!


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