Prior to this stay in France, I did not know what a meadow was. There is a rakish, sensuous quality to a meadow. We don't have meadows in Australia. We use the term 'field' if we want to indicate an area of pasture somewhat gentler than the norm. Mostly, however, we have paddocks.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love paddocks. I love their long vistas, their rolling slopes, their dryness, greyness and their somewhat patchy quality. But we don't do 'meadows'.
Firstly, it is not conceivable in our climate, where the sun bakes the soil rock hard, and where grass has to be grey and wirey to survive. Secondly, it would be at odds with our concept of land management. We don't have swathes of pastureland that we allow to take its time. That we allow go to flower. Just because it can. And because it is beautiful.
We itch to get out there with the ride-on mower and slash the lot into the silage pit.
No. We don't do meadows. Which is such a shame. As meadows are achingly beautiful. My eyes and ears were filled to the brim. My mind was at odds with my brain, as it expanded to encompass this foreign concept.
Here was pasture land encouraged to take its time, to fray at the edges, to bring forth variety, and maturity. Like the old beatniks of yore. Philosophy students from the '50s with a wisp of beard and a satchel with a copy of something existential by Satre, lying on a park bench with legs encased in caramel-corduroy thrown lazily over the slats.
All these photographs were taken as I meandered around Parc de Bagatelle out in the Bois de Boulogne.