The terrace is edged by a low wall on which sit huge terracotta vases filled with geraniums, whose brilliant red blossoms stand out with vibrant intensity against a dark hedge.
Beyond the terrace white petunias spill from urns scattered throughout the garden, and small silvery trees shimmer down the slope, rising up again toward a distant castle on the other side of the valley. The sky is clear, and details stand out sharply, almost magnified.
I feel pierced, as if the beauty of the day were a weapon that slices directly into my solar plexus. My inner pain intensifies and transforms into a pulsating throb of unfocused urgency.
At the end of the hedge beyond wrought iron curlicues on a big gate, another cypress-lined driveway curves away and disappears uphill. There’s an emblem on one of the stone gateposts, a coat of arms. It’s eroded and the animal depicted on it is indistinct; it looks like some kind of dog.
Here are a few more photos that, while not specifically described in my novel, still influenced my vision: