In September 2010, Barnes & Noble published a new edition of our book “Tuscany: Inside The Light.” As it had been successful for them they suggested we make another book – on Provence.
I think I can speak for Joel, too, when I say our immediate reaction was: really? Provence? Hasn’t that been done to death? Visions of lavender fields floated before us and then we thought of Tuscany and the cliché of sunflower fields. We managed to avoid that and made a book about “our” Tuscany. So why not set out to find “our” Provence?
Let me admit right now, we are well aware of what ingrates we can be. I mean, come on, a publisher – in this day and age – is actually asking us to make a book and they’re paying us up front? What an honor. What a privilege. And so we agreed and thought winter/spring 2011 would be a good time to start. Little did we know then what an immense gift this would turn out to be.
We returned to our cottage by the sea in Provincetown to enjoy the rest of September when most of the tourists have left and to further luxuriate there for the first three weeks of October. We had been thinking for several years of selling the house: originally to renovate an old barn in Tuscany, a project which turned into an Italian fiasco before finally falling through; and then again, earlier in 2010 for two reasons: 1. To pay off our debts and 2. to leave behind a town that had changed drastically over the last decade from one of artists and fishermen to one of condo owners and weekly renters.
But then September and October arrived and we were in our little paradise once more. No people yelling on the beach. No barking dogs. No loud cocktail parties on surrounding decks, no screaming children. Only the sound the sea, the birds, the breeze rustling through the garden. Days and weeks of picking vegetables from the garden, cooking, reading, swimming, hammocking, watching the white linens flap on the clothes’ line like verses of poetry against the blue of the late summer sky.
In October, as the sea began to inch toward winter we would take a hot evening bath together, then run naked into the bay for what might be the last swim of the season. Then, our bodies cooling, we’d run back to the waiting tub.
So when we returned to the city, late October, we took with us the idyll of our cottage. But we also knew that those few weeks were not the true overall picture anymore. And there was the more important reality that by selling we would be free not only of burdensome debt, but free to fling ourselves out into the world again while we still have grey cells and working limbs. We felt it to be important as artists to let go of that which had become familiar. And suddenly Provence became the starting place. We put the cottage up for sale.
Four days before we left New York we accepted a private offer, allowing us to fly the coop.