". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Provence! The Perfect Dream

     . . . . Monday, May 1, we were in  Nîmes, sitting in a Roman arena, built approximately 70 A.D. 

Statue of the matador behind the Roman arena in  Nîmes;  as well as music concerts and other spectacles, corridas and bullfights are staged there today.  A bullfight festival was scheduled for this week.  This is another indication that we were on the "Spanish" side of the Roman Mediterranean coast in  Nîmes, whereas Nice and Avignon are on the Roman / Italian side.
The festival of the Roman Games had just concluded, a day late, because the day of the biggest events got rained out, so had to be postponed to the following day. The temperature was chilly, the sky over the yellow sands was overcast and threatening the rain that did follow us all the way from Marseilles to Cannes, to Bar-sur-loup and hung on Tuesday morning. At the Nice airport for departure I wore a sweater under my leather jacket. 

Arrived in NYC, May 2, the temperature was 90 degrees. We sweated all way in from JFK. 

I'm trashed. This despite sleeping occasionally and even being able to stretch out, relatively speaking on the endless flight home. As the season barely begun, the flight from Nice was not at all full, so it was a lot more comfortable, thank goodness. It was the same on the flight to Nice.  Nevertheless, as it is -- what a wreck I am.  And jetlagged.

But -- what a wonderful. beautiful, perfect, dream vacation.

This vacation made many of my life-long dreams came true. This isn't an exaggeration. Ever since I was a very small child, I poured over illustrations, photographs, reproductions of paintings in encyclopedias, history text books, my piano practice score books. I passionately wanted to see these places with ruins from antiquity, gothic architecture, narrow, winding streets that had cascades of flowers and the slender pencils of poplar in the landscaped hillsides behind, the 'Roman' tiled rooftops -- and yes, even 18th century neo-classical forms such as the Jardin de la Fontaine in Nîmes. Then, to have that garden and the ruines of the Temple of "Diana"located  together -- which was all the better for the adult historian that I have become, knowing that this ruin was part of one of the many temples dedicated to Emperor Augustus, erected throughout the empire to remind the provinces that Rome was in charge. To have been given this opportunity to make an historical journey that covered them all in our limited time -- this is priceless. 

And the beauty, the food -- this journey was a life-time blessing. Nothing I did to earn it or deserve it -- it was just given me by D and I and el V. I am most grateful. 

Due to our hosts for the beginning and the conclusion of the trip, this was so much about the best ways of growing and preparing food, maintaining the food supply, sustainable horticulture and agriculture. 

Temple Saint-Martial. Building began in the mid 1350's, concluded in 1402.
Further, concerning the region in the medieval era: there was the Temple Saint Martial, just about directly across from our Avignon hotel, the Bristol, which had been the site of one of the earliest colleges. Its great subject of the 'new' scholarship was the formation of phytothérapie. The students sat outside, their classes held in the sections between the gothic church's buttresses, looking into the surrounding grounds. The grounds were gardens of therapeutic and medicinal plants and herbs. To this day, across from this church there is the Pharmacie, the first floor of which is a splendor of natural and homeopathic botanic treatments. Not to mention the many tours and conferences offered throughout the region for food and wine experiences (and I'm sure the entire of France) that include serious history and study of the past and current therapeutic and medicinal approach to what we eat and drink. I suppose this could be called holistic, though I didn't see that term used -- but then, I don't know French. All of this by way of seeing what D, I and their community are doing in Bar-sur-loup, and particularly I's approach to meals and dishes --she's a professional chef -- as part of a long, historically French continuum of eating and drinking. 

And now, when I first sat down this AM,  long before 7 AM our time, it was still quite warm. This afternoon NYC got up to 93°. When we left for Provence it was still definitely winter here, late late winter, perhaps, but winter. Climate change -- France, and all of the people like D and I and their community of their beautiful village perché (where last summer's wildfires's smoke and flames could be seen from behind the Alp that bounds their backyard), who are working on methods to keep people eating, have a great deal to do!

I filled 70 pages in my moleskine notebook.  I took many, many photos. Most of them are still on my memory card. When I'm a little less tired, I will download them to my hard drive and gloat over my memories.

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