Spying and Lying

Writing Residency Day 4

I wonder if people in the village noticed the way I hung around today, scribbling in my notebook and taking photos of strange things like the grill on the road?

Perhaps the old man I said hello to was suspicious. Perhaps that’s why he came out and pretended to be weeding while I was taking a panoramic photo from his front gate – though it’s hardly my fault that my protagonist is going to live in his house (not the one in the picture, I hasten to add).

Luckily I had my map. Maps are useful for times when people are unlikely to understand the link between research and peering in through windows to take photographs. I think I convinced him I was lost… And actually I learnt he was born in the valley and knew the names of all the mountains. And he also told me loads of useful stuff about sheep.

Yes, today was calm, which meant that after a morning of writing I let myself slip into my protagonist costume and go for a walk around the village of Arras.

There’s an art circuit where you have to find what features in the landscape the silhouettes on the signs depict, and my protagonist thought he’d take a photo of one for you.

Outside, I discovered the mist had lifted from the valley and the sun was coming out. I had water in my bag, boots on my feet, a map in my hand and a swiss army knife in my pocket. (The swiss army knife was in case I saw the bear).

So it was no surprise that my protagonist found himself walking up to the top of the nearest mountain instead of around the village. The tops of mountains are much more his type of thing.

I say mountain but, at just 1097m, the Mont de Gez is really a hill. It was playing at being a mountain while all the real, rocky mountains were being snooty with their heads in the clouds. There’s a gorgeous view from the top: you can see valleys heading off in all directions. A group of dancers in a previous residency created a stunning video set there.

On my way home, I popped into Le Kairn, where I managed to get a photo of Karine. For once she was actually sitting down, relaxing – well, testing new recipes (read ‘eating lunch’ there). So here is the lovely lady! You may recognise her from one of the many mountain refuges she’s worked in.

Back at the Maison des Arts, I was surprised to find the doors wide open and the exhibition rooms empty.

Had thieves broken in? I hoped the man weeding hadn’t given the police a description of me.

Then I remembered: it was the final day for Raphaël’s photos and Roxane’s ceramics displays: tomorrow, Véronique Strub is moving in with her Dracula costumes.

Which means, I suppose, that I may bump into headless, half dressed vampires in my museum if I happen to go sleepwalking.

Never mind. It will be worth it if I can see how costume-makers work, in which case I’ll talk more about Véronique and her project later this week.

In the evening I watched the clouds lift as I wrote, and it wasn’t until night had fallen that I remembered my walk around the village.

Hoping the man wasn’t still out weeding, I picked up my camera and went out on a night expedition (with my swiss army knife).

I may not be courageous enough to spend a night alone at the Col des Bordères, with Pascal’s sheep and cows, but the village was another matter.

And this is what I saw: cool, huh? An owl and THE EYE!!!

Now it’s time for bed. Tomorrow I’m going to brave those hairpin bends and crazy French drivers and hit the heights (which is what my protagonist does the minute he can).

Goodnight, sleep well.

14 thoughts on “Spying and Lying

    1. harrietspringbett Post author

      Yes, I’m a bit of a coward with mountain roads (in tears once between the Col d’Aubisque and the Col du Soulor), but I discovered that they’re far less scary when you’re driving than when you’re a passenger.


    1. harrietspringbett Post author

      The worst thing (the best thing) is that when you walk in the little garden beside the church, the eye FOLLOWS you! Now that really is shuddery! The owl moves a little, too – its head.


  1. Richard

    Very atmospheric -I really enjoyed reading this. The opening vignette reminds me of the weekend after we first moved to our home in Sayat, near Clermont-Ferrand. I went walking with my camera to document our new neighborhood for family back home, but was brought up short when an elderly man “caught” me photographing the flowers along his front fence. He gave me the evil eye and advanced toward me, but I assured him I only wanted pictures to show my family how much we appreciated our new surroundings. “Ah, Americain?” he brightend up. It turned out he had served in the French navy during an extended port of call in New York. He waved me into his garage, where he made a hobby of making homemade liqueurs. The time passed and I had to explain to my wife and my son why I was coming home a little tipsy at 10:30 on a Sunday morning!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. harrietspringbett Post author

    You’re welcome, Jacqui. ‘Chapeau’ for attacking the Pyrenees on a bike – I feel so sorry each time I overtake a cyclist struggling up towards a col. Especially if it’s misty or wet. Thanks for dropping by.


  3. Pingback: In Pastures High | Harriet Springbett's playground

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