11 September 2011


Exactly ten years ago I was living here at the Belvedere with my friend Lydia who is also a painter and we spent that day trying to take care of a lamb whose leg was broken. At this time there was a shepard named Roger from Catalonia who walked his dog and troop of sheep four  times a day up and down the small road which is below the house. Early each morning the sound of tinkling bells and his bellowing voice awakened us. Up to a large field about a half kilometer off the road for the morning, back for lunch, up again, then back home late afternoon was his daily routine. For us it was a wonderful way to mark each day of our life here in France. Roger was friendly and always shouted 'Salut' when he saw me coming out onto the terrace to wave to him. Once in a while a lamb with a broken paw would straggle behind crying pitifully which was painful to watch four times a day. That week it was too much for our city sensibilities and we asked him if we could take care of the latest invalid. Thinking we were a bit crazy but being affable about the whole thing he gave it to us much to our surprise. So on the morning of September 11th we took it to the Vet's in La Begude who probably also thought we were a little 'dramatic' and advised us that it had a broken leg and should be someone's dinner quite soon. We brought it back to Roger who promised he would put it in a small field next to his house. After lunch we each went into our retrospective studios and painted for the afternoon. Lydia painted a portrait of two large dying sunflower plants (see top photo) They were slumped over and hanging to one side. I worked on a few things but then started a painting of two red lines which go up and down a small canvas. I don't know why but I stopped and left it in that state and picked up something else. I found it was compelling to say the least.

We did not live with a television at that time and retrieving emails was a dial-up affair and thus not as easy as today using broadband. In fact, we were at the end of our relationship and didn't have much to say to each other so I imagine that we ate dinner outside and went to bed. I do remember the telephone rang once or twice but this was at a time when I wished to be out of touch I guess. Needless to say we didn't find out about what had happened in New York until the next morning when I did retrieve the phone messages. There were condolences from several French friends which I found perplexing and an hysterical message from my sister in the States. I went online to see what the fuss was all about. What really surprised us were the two images which had come up for us both completely independant of one another. There was something quite eery about these images being worked on at just about the same time as the towers were falling (6 hours ahead of Eastern standard time)

(An update to this story: Lydia wrote to remind me (which I had forgotten) that the small lamb which she had healed with argile had somehow lived and walked after a week!) 

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