After a month in the Douro for harvest (which was fantastic, by the way!) I spent less than 48 hours at home before leaving for another ten days in England and Italy.
I found myself one morning waking up in Milan – as you do – and setting off to see the sights before getting on a train to some other place. Came up out of the Metro, looked around me at the Duomo… and realised I had left my camera at the hotel. As a blogger who has been wedded, no, make that welded, to her camera for a solid month of harvest, let alone the past two years generally, I felt a little odd… naked… unprepared… inadequate even.
And then I looked around me, and my eyes filled up with the building, sky, plaza… and I realised what a joy it was to see everything and not be mentally cropping and framing and focussing. After that, as my travels continued I actually chose not to photograph things, but simply to look at them. The only exception was a moment of idleness when I was waiting for an event to begin and took a photo of a painted ceiling, as an aide-memoire for the colour combination (a deep purple red and a vivid turquoise), for my design files.
As I flew home, for the first time entering Portugal from the east, I recognised the Douro valley beneath us. I am reasonably certain I recognised the configuration of the river and the “cabeça” headland near Quinta do Vesuvio, but we dropped lower as we continued west and I was really thrilled to recognise the sequence of Symington quintas coming into Pinhão: Tua, Malvedos, Vila Velha and Roriz, as well as Bomfim. Then the valley of Pinhão and finally the folds of the Marão, the north-south range of mountains that defines the western boundary of the wine making region, in a thin haze or fog, so all I saw were mountain silhouettes in varying shades of blue in the thin layered whiteness.
Best of all, with no camera, I retain these images in my mind’s eye and I can summon them up at any moment, in any place, whether or not my laptop is handy.
So, I am sorry I cannot share these images with you, but … I am grateful for the reminder of the value of just plain looking and living in the moment, and not always thinking in terms of what I might publish. I needed that.