Friday, 16 December 2016

Beautiful insignificancies

if that last word is a word, and if it isn't, it should be.

Most of my dog-walks around this part of France incorporate vine fields (vignoble) as we are surrounded by them, and quite often the tiny 'houselets' or cabanon, (or casots, if its a walk in the coastal wine-growing areas). They were built as places to hide away from the sun in the grape-picking season, or places to shelter from wind, rain and frost at the vine-clipping times.
Sadly, most of these characterful little buildings have been abandoned over the years, even the ones that had obviously been more than just shelters, the remnants of gardens, benches and climbing roses often still visible.
One of my regular walks features a particularly intriguing cabanon on the top of a hill, usually inaccessible, a rusted wire fence, gate and padlock keeping inquisitive people like me, out. Today the gate was open, so it was my duty as an amateur investigator, 'flaneur' and story-concoctor to look a little closer.
The overgrown garden had obviously once been loved, the clumps of lavender and rosemary still stragglingly visible. A slatted bench still faces the mountain view, although now partially obscured by rampaging poplar and fig.

Inside the cabanon was the usual collection of junk: bottles, broken chairs, collapsed shelves and the blackened trace of a fireplace, but the walls, unusually, held more interesting history - drawings and memos from the 1940s, particularly this quietly arresting pencil sketch that I felt could have been done by Chagall if he had happened to be in the locality and doing a spot of grape-picking.


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