A TOWN OF WATERS
The town was built around the waters that flowed from the lake in two streams.
It had always been a place of settlement, as far back as memory holds, but it was around 1107 that the town of Annecy began to flourish, nourished by the lake and the rivers. It was water that the people were drawn by. It was water - the birther and the protector, that brought this town to life. Water provided for the survival of inhabitants in the early days, and later - with the construction of the castle on the island in the middle of the town, it provided protection. Later still, the waters of those two rivers fed the watermills of the workshops that sprouted on the outskirts of that medieval village: the blacksmiths, and the textile mills. Water brought movement to the town, large boats with triangular sails bringing supplies, or smaller personal crafts moving about the stone streets, with doors opening onto the canals themselves. Water brought culture too - as the marshes by the riverside and the pastures on the lakeside began to be converted to parklands and woodlands, perfect places for the reflecting thoughts of walkers.
Reflections of the mind : glimmering shadows caught between moving surface and shifting sands, hinting at a further notion:
Water is the giver of life, it is the deep sea before sight, the eternal womb from which our human lives, and indeed all other lives emanate. It is the mystery too, the unknown darkness beneath us and within us, within our psyches. It is the collective pool of the unconscious, and also the moving tides within our veins, it is the swirling life force behind each being - it is our 60 percent; over half of our being is composed of it. Water itself may be able to contain emotion and intention, within its very molecules.
Who has not known the longing, the footsteps that take us lakeside or riverside to contemplate life? We are all drawn to bodies of water, to stabilise our own thoughts and plug back into the wider energy systems that surround that body. When we build towns and cities and lives that are divorced from water, we cut ourselves off from one of the most important elements to life itself, and we begin to undervalue its importance in everything - sometimes to such an extent that we will allow pollutants into our waters. But when we refocus, realising the sacred nature of water, we might find in ourselves a desire to preserve our aquatic environments. For we depend on them.
The town of Annecy instills a calm feeling in the viewer. Standing on the Pont des Amours, a fine example of a Belle Epoque iron-cast bridge, and watching the swans drift about, I felt an immanence and a transcendence - a kind of peace. The swans floated as if on air, graceful clouds casting shadows on underwater valleys of weeds, with only a hint of green-blue caught in between.