Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Story Behind the Picture

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Recently, we were walking down the alley behind our apartment building and I noticed a vine winding its way through a newly-installed fence. The weed was very healthy as a result of several heavy rains that made the weed and everything else soil-related green and thriving. I took pictures of this sole weed with the idea that I might be able to use them. Better yet, I might actually click a shot worthy of sharing.

Trying to take artsy pictures is a habit I have had for a long time but should have given up after the ONE good (my opinion) landscape picture I took 40 years ago. Digital cameras make it so easy to “click-and-shoot-and-delete” that people like me think that I might get a gallery-worthy shot the next time I turn on my camera. It is about the same rationale as expressed by people who support tax shelters for the wealthy because they believe that they could win the lottery and they don’t want the government taxing their illusory winnings.

Digital dreaming. But I digress (as usual).

Looking at the picture again made me think of what was included in the shot: a fence, a weed growing and entwining itself in the fence and a large field starting to fill up with weeds. Buildings are visible at the back of the field. And, if one looks closely, there is another fence – a stone/cement and solid metal fence that parallels the walkway on the next street to complete the enclosure.

Until last year, this field contained several old buildings. At about this time last year, a demolition crew came in and removed the old buildings leaving the weed field adjacent to the white/pink building. That building is the residence for developmentally-disabled adults in Vaison. They had planned to expand the residence into the space now vacant and weed-covered.

When we returned to Vaison in December, I was surprised that the construction of the addition had not yet begun but thought to myself: “bureaucratic wheels turn slowly.” The field was originally enclosed by a temporary, nylon mesh fence that looked like it would blow over if the Mistral winds were strong enough. At the end of February, a worker dug fence post holes and two days later there was the permanent, two-meter-high fence you see in my pictures.

On an evening when we were having cocktails at our neighbor Lina’s, I asked her about the fence and why the construction was progressing so slowly. She explained that there would be no construction. As with the project in Place Monfort last year, after the demolition, the archeologists came to assess whether the building site contained any valuable Roman ruins.

And it does!

It should not be a surprise. The city of Vaison was an important Roman city until about 500 AD. The city is known for its Roman ruins which start at the amphitheatre and continue south and west to the river to the Roman bridge. Just west of the Post Office parking lot is another area that tourists can visit. Last year, the cinema was supposed to move from its present location to the area near the amphitheatre and the swimming pool. That project was put on hold with the discovery of more ruins under the land that was to be used for the new cinema.

The vacant lot adjacent to our alley will remain vacant indefinitely because the archeologists discovered from their preliminary digs that the area might have been the location of the city’s Roman Forum.

It makes me wonder what the archeologists might find under our building…


  1. Wow! This is very cool! Fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Is the genesis of the ruins the beuracracy from back in 500ad? Before you return to US, could you please find out what they will do with the ruins? I hate to wait, I'll forget the question. Alex and I stayed at a B&B in Albuequerque where they found native American ruins and built the building around them. There was a stairway to them off a sitting room. The owners were archeologists and continued to dig. This was cool to us, till thinking about it layer and John wayne gacy came to mind.

  3. I love this story! More, more, more! And take more photos. With your digital camera.

  4. I think the whole lower town has to be sitting on top of Roman ruins from everything I have read.

  5. Howdy Ellen and Mark,
    always great to read you...

    D Day+ 8 for us... I was meant to write and say thank you for the Obama sticker,

    French people mix it up day Jura and Jura but not the same country;-)

    Thank you :-)

    1. I make the same kind of mistake on a daily basis! Wish you were here to help me sort it all out!

  6. I'm reading a novel,Sacred Bleu A Comedy de Art, that contains a section that combines this and your post about snails. It begins in the day Van Gogh was shot and tells the story of paints by telling a story of Paris. I j ust read a scene when Paris was under seige and blockaded so no food could come in from farm land. A boy is sent to a cemetary for snails to be used as bait for rats to be baked into pies with crusts 1/3 filled with saw dust. He meets a retired professor by a stone who tells him to only take snails from head stones of good thinkers and proceeds to tell him about the Roman ruins that Paid is built on.... I just told you the only worthwhile part of the book, don'tb spend money on it... Maybe the library. It did make me think of you. See yous soon.