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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Burgundy in December: a countryside in fog

Wishing you all a joyful and creative New Year!

I spent the final days of December in the watery, still lush countryside of Burgundy (Bourgogne in French). It is an area I know well and have photographed numerous times in various seasons but this visit I was gifted with some night time snow dustings and most of all, a number of days of fogs that lingered until after noon. I have included some of my favourite views of nature and human made here in landscapes that I hope share some of the magical ambiance of this special area and my meanderings there.

Walking out all the spiderwebs were full of jewels...
and the hedges bright with berries and frosty leaves.

In France the art of pruning trees and training them to various shapes has long been a highly developed art that results in some fascinating, if rather unnatural forms, such as the espalier visible in many miniature paintings of gardens in the Middle Ages. This form was often employed to save space in the popular enclosed gardens where fruit and roses could be trained flat against the walls.

Quiet and beautiful beasts graze near a fog obscured 17th century chateau and its half timbered neighbour...
An ancient church from the Romanesque era sits quietly in the fog, as it has for many hundreds of years...
  
A short distance along the road a lake lies hidden in the fog...
and a mill cottage is embraced between the millstream and the curving route.
I turn down a narrow lane and reach a branch of the same watercourse and the woods that lay beyond...
A metallic blue kingfisher startles from under the culvert near a giant, old willow but is too quick to catch with my camera...
And in the tree, broken but still living, there is a hollow heart space...
The heart of nature in a water meadow beside a wood where many willows grow.

Some of the trees are old and naturally decaying, as willows so often do, but a great deal of cutting has taken place since the last time I visited this place and freshly downed saplings are all around.

The old and broken trees look ghostly in the fog and nearby
a dark pine forest shuts out what little light there is in this day...
sometimes I have found the cloven tracks of wild pigs and deer in its muddy, twilit paths...
but today I turn back to the road and pastures as the sound of a high speed train drowns the calls of small birds.

The pasture fence is made in part of stunted oak trees, natural bonsai formed from numerous prunings over the years. Among their branches and trunks I seem to see strange humanoid presences...

 
On the way back I pass an inn with a winter desserted terrace of pruned trees...
A fountain drained of water in this icy season...with elaborate interior and ornate spouts that resemble dragonish ducks...
A shelter for vehicles under an ornate terra cotta roof...
And a final willow, this one weeping, behind a farm building...
Thank you for walking with me...