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…