A couple of posts ago, I lamented the disappearance of light and colour after a storm. Predictably, for the South of France, colour and blue sky didn’t take very long to reappear. Is that better, though? 😉
“Make up your mind, already”, you’ll be thinking, by now!
Yes, yes, I’m typing this under a sky so blue a polarizer would make it look black. And the heat from the sun is baking my back through the open bay window. Just as well as the 3rd dose of Pfizer’s brew running in my blood is making me feel like I need a sunny vacation 😉 😉
But what was all the fuss about in that previous post, then? And why complain now?
First, since the photographs above aren’t helping my case, let’s stop the technicolour stream right here 😉 A first reason for complaining is the knowledge of what follows this ecstatic display of swan song colour.
A second is that this blue sky comes at a price. Two prices, in fact, but I’ll deal with the second in another post. Today, let’s focus on what so efficiently dusts the clouds out of the sky : wind. Here, it’s called Mistral. Maserati based a 1963 thoroughbred after it and Renaud, the artist not the car, wrote a lovely song about very tangy sweets named after it. The Maserati used Fangio’s World Championship engine to get to 230km/h, more or less the upper reaches of Mistral’s haste at sea.
Today, we were barely at 40% of that top speed. But this, below, was happening at the same time as the very sheltered scenes above, just 200m away.
Now, those of you used to viewing 40 foot breakers off Portugal or Reunion Island might not feel impressed by those choppy little things the windsail seems to be navigating with ease.
But this is a sheltered harbour, on a Mediterranean sandy beach in Marseilles, not some coast facing 2000 miles of open ocean on which large waves have had the time to build up to gargantuan proportions. This only happens once or twice a year. More often than not, this family spot is like a mirror.
Last sunday, waves up to 3m high blasted those brave enough to get into the water, along with the car parks, cars, motorcycles and anything foolish enough to stay in what is usually a gentle resting place. And this was early on.
Needless to say, I loved it! Few things please me more than to experience nature doing its thing, unimpeded.
Naturally, where there’s waves, in a harbour, there’s spray.
And, naturally, a photographer wants to get close to that spray 😉
And, then, even closer.
Until it no longer felt reasonable. Usually, there’s no water there, at the bottom of the frame. I was drenched and only worried about my camera too late. While the body didn’t seem to complain, the XCD 90mm lens didn’t look happy. Everything worked, but the front element was coated in white droplets, which I have no idea how to remove safely now that they are dry and sticky …
Any ideas ?
Anyway, I retreated, grabbed a couple of opportunistic shots …
… and headed for a more “sheltered” part of the beach to admire the kitesurfers.
After a while, though, even they gave up as the wind and waves picked up even more fury, reaching over the 35 knots limit for kitesurfing. We cleared the area, witnessing some poor guy swept away by unexpected water in a car park usually 100m from the sea. Nothing dire, he was just shocked and cold, but the beach was feeling less and less safe for anyone. And it was only the beginning as the afternoon turned into an absolute gale.
This is how seasons change over here. One violent front chases another and, suddenly, we have passed on to another phase of the year. Hence the title winter. It’s still warm and colorful on many days, but the shift has been made and will only be unmade by the torrential rains of spring and heavy winds that will propell us right into the blistering peaks of summer.
It’s very easy to undertand the ancient Greek’s belief in elemental forces when you witness them at work. Two seasons are stable, two are short transition periods during which those forces clash for cyclic domination. It’s brilliant.
Now, where did I put my wand to change my lead photos into gold?
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