Sisteron

The citadel of Sisteron descends from a storm cloud on the A51 from Grenoble, 16 hours after leaving Cherbourg the night before. A bolt of lightning stabs the valley below in one final and petulant parting shot, before clearing to reveal a land sliced by rivers and moss-green hedgerows. Our destination - a centuries-old mission cut directly from a mountain - lies 20 more minutes drive beyond the valley ahead.

We emerge from the 7-seater van stiff and musty, ready for a shower and a meal of anything other than stale baguette, but the land around us sneaks away our cares for just a few more moments – the air, the twilight, the silence, take on a kind of elemental vitality after the near-constant roar of the Econoline’s engine. Our hosts, Jason and Tracy - English - welcome us lavishly. After a wash and a meal, I sleep like the dead.

My sister and I walk up to the cherry orchard the next morning, bowls in hand, and pick our breakfast, fresh and lipstick-kissed by the morning light, directly from the trees. We warm our bread in the oven, make tea, set out the butter to soften, and talk quietly about our plans for the day. 

Jason stops by to see how we’re doing. We assure him - enthusiastically - that we’re all happy and excited for the promise of this new day. After making a few suggestions for places to see, he encourages us to be back by 8:30 this evening to watch the full moon rise over the mountain. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.” We promise not to miss it.

The day rolls by in a blur of excess, and by 8 o’clock we’re back at the mission - tired, but ready for the show. Dad pours everyone coffee, and we all jacket up and head out to the overlook. The world has become black, and without flashlights we wouldn’t make it more than a handful of yards before hurting someone, or something, or both. Jason and Tracy have set out chairs for everyone – they encourage us to lay back and watch the skies. 

Away from the light of the mission the sky above is splattered with stars. Millions? Trillions? Counting isn’t a thing here. Math becomes meaningless. An infinity of pinpricks vibrate blue and red and white. A satellite, as bright as any star in the sky, a man-made Venus, meanders slowly from one horizon to the next.

When the first sliver of moon appears, we all fall into whispers. I pull out my camera and try to hold it steady, leaving the shutter open for a few seconds to allow the daytime film to take in the light – but I flinch anyway, certain I’ve ruined the shot. “Just watch,” Dad whispers. 

I put the camera down on the ground beside me and watch as the moon slowly reveals itself to us in that fast-and-slow way things do when time becomes insubstantive, intangible. A few more minutes pass and the moon stands in full view, an impossible bright thing I feel I’ve never truly seen before. The group whispers to each other in collective astonishment until, one by one, we each fall silent, and it’s only now that we understand: the moon is whispering back.

 

Sisteron is a display font in the Jugendstil style. It has 543 glyphs, including a wide array of alternates and foreign characters, making it compatible with dozens of foreign languages. 

Check out a sample PDF, here.