Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old Folks


We received a photo of this painting as a Christmas card this year from the artist, Bill E. Morgan. He’s got the postures so right that it really appealed to me. The location is, most likely, the village of Tremolat in the Dordogne region of France, where Mr. Morgan lives and paints for much of the year. The life and buildings of that village form the subject of his art, to the extent I am familiar with it.

My own grandmother, as well as her sister and brother, came from that general area of France and I’ve spent some time there myself. It seems to me that Mr. Morgan has precisely captured these people, who are individuals, yet also examples of their types—especially the women, who can be nothing other than French. He’s even got the shoes exactly right.

But what do we see when we look at them? I can remember what I would have thought a few years ago. I would have thought: oh, old folks. And that would have been that. I would have felt a distance along with a dismissal of any possible connection to me, ever.

How a few years changes things…

How old do you suppose they are? The women are clearly mobile, and two, at least, still have husbands. I met an elderly cousin when I was over there in the 90’s and she wore a similar cardigan and dress. She was in her late eighties.

What are they talking about? Is it the changes their small village has seen in the past decade and a half? Is it the fact that English is spoken as often as French in the village grocery?

My husband wrote a column about our visit to the village a few years ago, and sent it to the paper via email. The next morning our landlord told Hale that the mayor of the village had sent him a copy of the column. Seems the mayor checks Google every morning for references to Tremolat.

Those ladies have a surfeit of change to talk about. That’s clear. But they’re probably listening to a story of someone’s daughter’s husband’s brother who totally messed up.

8 comments:

aliceinparis said...

They are probably talking about how they are feeling a bit stiff today after the wild evening they spent at the nightclub and then of course "Did you see the outfit Madame Derosiers was wearing last night? What was she thinking!!!? Those heels must have been at least two inches high!" "Remind Mr. LeBlanc not to eat cassoulet before he goes out with us again" "Ah yes, tomorrow's yoga class has been postponed, I got an email this morning..." " That downward facing dog is a doozy" "Big storm coming this weekend"

lol, who knows, I love wondering what people talk about.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Your last paragraph sums it all up. Living, as I do, in the deep countryside, I know that the majority of talk when there is a seat full of "locals" is about people - not so much gossip as just general chat about who is related to who, who has been ill, what price they got when they sold their cow - that kind of thing. Lovely country talk - well summed up in the lovely painting. Just right.

Cher said...

I'm bettin' the old men aren't sayin' a thing!

The Texas Woman

jinksy said...

I can almost hear the gossip...
The picture has overtones of Jam and Jerusalem for me, if you know what that means!

Bdogs said...

Before going silent, the men in our neck of the woods, at least, would have asked: You get any rain last night? (And the answer would be: No.)

Jinksy, I looked it up!

Sydney said...

I know what you mean about how much difference a few years, or a few experiences can make, That makes me pause now before I say never on anything, and it also makes me hesitant to judge anyone about much of anything.

love how a picture can stir so many thoughts and questions if we only take the time to look.

Cher- lol

Ralph W. said...

I have no idea what they are discussing but it likely is related to a person or persons they all know. I do womder if they are aware that they live in a most wonderful place, in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Peggy said...

Your last paragraph is probably spot-on! I can see them shaking their heads sadly and 'tsk-tsking' softly. :)