Tucked in the middle of Southern France, with the Pyrenees rimming the horizon on a clear day, is Durban. We enter from the West. Thank God we had a GPS, because even with our Michelin map, this is remote country side. We are wrapped in that iconic patchwork of many-hued, squared-off, rolling crop fields marked by lines of trees and shrubs. We are not looking at the hillsides anymore. We are in them. The sunflowers in September fill the car windows. Heavy with dark seeds, they bow all as one.
“In 300 yards, turn right,” we are coached in English.
“Yeah, right,” I say in return. “Like after this field of corn, you mean?”
Yes, it turns out. On a one lane road, which takes us up and around a farm house with geese flecking an embankment and past a cross marking an intersection. Only this time the intersection appears to be footpath along a ridge. Down a hillside to our right is a small, shaded quarry where lambs rest, looking like the stones around them. In the sound poem Dawn and Dusk you hear Durban’s quiet peace.
This is a hard-working region, however, with little down time. I wake and hear a neighboring farmer tending to the season’s turning of soil, a testament to the region’s diligence in the sound poem Tractor Toil from the Hen House. Our visit will be accompanied by this gentle ‘rum’ of the tractor, even after dark.
The farm I visit breeds lambs and the first meal comes early in the sound poem Breakfast With Lambs.
I visit the horses in the pasture with the sound poem Salt Lick.
After exercise and jumping practice, one horse replenishes with corn in the sound poem Eating in Durban. The horse’s exchange echoes in the unimpeded space of this quilted landscape.