|View of monastery from the village|
The passage of time is displayed on the cloister walls in a variety of colourful painted sundials of different types, classic, Italian and Babylonian. With sundials on three walls, the hour can be calculated from the shadows in morning, afternoon and evening.
The Babylonian sundials count the day as beginning from sunrise, the Italian from sunset on the day before. The zodiac glyphs mark the points of solstices and equinoxes. Nowadays we have to add an hour because of summer time and a further half hour because we are in the Paris time zone but in the past time was local.
Seasons of course, keep their own time, sometimes spurred on by precocious dollops of sunshine, sometimes as this year, delayed by the cold weather sweeping so they say, down from the Arctic. Here, the cherry, apple and pear blossom is just beginning to flower, leaves starting to throw faint pollen yellow and light green auras around the trees.
|Under the quince tree|
While this place is crammed with depictions of passing time, there does not seem to be any more of the actual stuff of it than you find anywhere else, even supposing that time was made of anything which of course it is not, despite being a dominating force in our lives, it slips and slides, scatters and disperses all quite invisibly while we chase after it, throw imprecations at it, to adjust its rhythm to our desires, to speed up or slow down according to our expectations of something we want to arrive quickly, or something we don't ever want to end.
We, the residents in the monastery, have 'all the time in the world' which roughly translates as – not having to attend to many of the quotidian demands that 'normal' life makes on one, and so having plenty of time to write, and also to explore these truly breathtaking surroundings. All of which I am very grateful for, as well as the glorious view of mountains I see every morning from my window, the garden just outside, with its blossoming pear, cherry, quince and apricot trees, the birdsong..... but while ideas and projects burgeon, and it's true that some writing does get done, the possibilities to explore and look around are too tempting to be denied.
The sea, for example, is only a short bus ride away. But to reach the bus stop I have to walk through the village, then climb down one of these hairpin paths to the road and walk on to Fontan –
or walk through the tunnel then take another path - which is less pleasant but quicker if you have a bus to catch.
The bus takes you to Menton, on the French riviera,
or to the Riviera Ligure at Ventimiglia