I’ve been back in the USA for just under 2 weeks now, and our 2014 French Summer is slipping into memory-land. It was a spectacular summer filled with adventures, great food, fun times with friends and neighbors, explorations, and self-discovery. There are so many people to thank for their kindness. An incomplete list includes our Amis du Haut du Village, Philippe Abizanda, Poul & Lone Bystrup, Jean-Baptiste Bourotte, Gerard Tissandier, Pierrot & Liliane Bicharel, Madame Paulette, Philippe Raynaud, the Village of Axat, and so many more.
Our final weeks were filled with the sights of Northern Italy in the Aosta Valley where Joe climbed Gran Paradiso and parts of the Monta Rosa Massif (see his blog post: A Deadly Season in the Alps). Back in Axat, we spent languid afternoons with friends over beautifully prepared meals, coordinated some home improvement projects to be accomplished over the months ahead, met new friends Tim & Brigitte Reiss-Andersen for coffee and croissants, and celebrated the end of the festival season with over 160 of our locals during ‘Carnival’ in the High Village.
Although my physical self will be on American soil for the next 3/4 year or so, my heart rests in my ‘Innisfree’ tucked into our little corner of the Pyrenees in Southern France. If I close my eyes, and still my mind, I can take myself there – to the upper terrace behind the house with the periwinkle blue shutters – the spot built into the side of a mountain as old as time itself – the scent of sun-warmed lavender and genet filling my nose – the yellow and purple roses and bright red geraniums in full bloom, the sound of buzzing bees at every blossom – the swirling swallows overhead, their screams signaling their maneuvers. There is a sitting area on a spot of grass surrounded by ancient rock walls and wild fennel growing out the side of the mountain slate – It’s shaded by fig, plum, and olive trees – It’s completely open, yet totally private – Time and obligation hold no power here as the sun drifts lazily overhead until it slips behind the mountains into a colorful finale. Here, as the last bits of light leave the sky, stars too numerous to count fill the heavens and fall in spectacular glory – Swallows give way to the soothing call of the screech owls and the flutter of bats – The fresh, cool, mountain air gently moves aside the heat of the day – All is at peace.
I will return to my mountain; to the streams and meadows; to the flowers and wildlife; to the grandeur of nature itself and the stillness of unmeasurable time. Here the days pass slowly in a rhythm dictated by the passage of the sun, moon, and stars. Days of the week are remembered by repeated events; or not at all. I will return to my mountain once more. It will wait for me, and I will be home.