Monday, October 26, 2009

Fog and Flamboyance

Today started out in deep fog and ended with bright sunshine on the flamboyant colors of the Spanish fall. Both are frustratingly difficult to convey in a photograph, at least a photograph edited on a laptop and posted for a computer webpage. Or maybe it’s just that the reproduction never captures the sensory richness of being there.
Walking out of Ponferrada this morning in the fog, my eye was caught by what at first seemed a bouquet of gauzy white flowers beside the road. The flowers were cobwebs, small bowl-shaped cobwebs catching the light coming through the fog with a luminance that seemed to glow. The photograph? Well, you had to be there.
Similarly a few miles later when a church looking out on what had been allowed to become a wild field cast a spectral presence in the fog. The photograph? Not the same.
While taking pictures of the church, I saw a fist-sized purple thistle, maybe an aspiring artichoke, in the foreground field. The sin of my photograph of that is that there is nothing to convey the
aggressive size of the thistle. It could be a so-what thimble-sized thistle.
While the fog lifted, the Camino wound its way from the suburbs of Ponferrada to the vineyards covering the rolling hills leading to Villafranca del Bierzo. The Spanish fall has a surprising richness of colors. The poplar trees are limited to a blazing yellow, but the vineyards contribute, in addition to more yellows, a surprising range of reds. Not in a league with a New England maple after a hard frost, but not to be sneezed at. So let’s take a photograph for the folks back home. Alas, more garish than gorgeous, even with a rigorous self-discipline to stay away from the saturation adjustment.The moral of this tale is, again, that you have to walk the Camino to see the Camino.