Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Origins of Wednesday xi: stones of shelter

This is where the seals go
in Picardie to reproduce ~
Cayeux-sur-Mer, or in Eng-
lish, pebbles by the sea.
The custom is not unknown,
elsewhere in that extra-
vagantly fertile fulcrum
of Europe, the geological
wellspring of our whole i-
dea of natural bounty. In
Pauillac, by the river's
edge, the pebbles ripen
the most treasured fruit
of this world. This photo-
graph is part of a com-
pelling exhibit in Lon-
don for the next month,
reported in the Guardian
on-line. But this is my
favourite of the show. 

Picardie lies in the one 
département of France we 
know as more infested by
stones than any other,
at innumerable graves of
the battles of the Somme,
100 years ago. These con-
tain our imprint as the
Cretaceous chalk they are,
and drain the roots of our
Champagne to invigorate
its backbone. It would
be incoherent to appraise
these slopes without ap-
preciating their shelter
by the Bay of the Somme,
of another unpardonably
menaced species in our 

Michael Kenna
The Guardian
January 27, 2015

Patrick Forbes
  The Wine, The Land,
  and The People
Reynal & Co., 1967©

James E. Wilson
  The Rôle of Geology,
  Climate, and Culture
  in the Making of French
University of California Press, 1998©

John Keegan
The First World War
Knopf, 1999©

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