In South Africa, we’re into our fourth month of lockdown. It struck me one morning, just before we were granted the freedom of a few hours every day to go outdoors and exercise, that this enforced, and extended, lockdown has funnelled our visual horizons to the height and width of our windows. For days on end, those days on which we don’t step out to shop for what are considered “essentials”, our world has been confined to the view we get through the glass. Some of us are (immensely) lucky with our horizons. Many are not.
So … Windows and Travel. That’s what’s been on my mind recently. Because right now, windows with their rigid defining frames breathe of confinement. Travel breathes of freedom. And after our many weeks of incarceration some of us are experiencing the deepest yearning to spread our wings and head out into the wide open spaces. How we do it of course will never be the same again. And that could be a good thing. An end to ever-increasing, suffocating, selfie-stick-wielding crowds?
But, for now, we can only but dream of winging to faraway places. Which I have been doing. And the memory-footprint that a fairly recent trip to Provence left in my mind was … Windows. These photos were taken in Valensole in the Hautes-Alpes area of Provence. Valensole sits kind of central between Marseille and Saint-Tropez, both of which lie further south on the coastline, and the town is the pivot around which the lavender industry thrives.
There is irony in the fact that here we’re looking from the outside in, not inside looking out. And many of the windows are shuttered (it must have been siesta time!), but they are symbolic of the shuttering that we’re experiencing in our country, in our towns, in our homes. At the same time, these windows and doors represent a gentler, slower life in which Time has been allowed to settle in, with the dust and the weathering, eventually to leave its mark. And no-one does attractively ramshackle, rustic, and shabby-chic like the French. N’est ce pas?