Remi and I went looking for inspiration yesterday late afternoon. Nap-deprived, we both felt the weight of Summer's first wave of humidity. But were off to a fail-safe destination, one that always cheers me--the Depôt-Vente in Eygalières. Call it a consignment shop for antiques and bric-a-brac, somehow there is always something that catches our eye. The owners of the regal stone farmhouses in the area, one of the wealthiest in the Alpilles, are often willing to cast off porcelain and paintings for a song. And it is hardly a secret. The parking lot was so full that we had to squeeze into a spot that wasn't. Immediately after, a finger-wagging woman shot out of the shop--"You can't park there!". Now, the Depôt-Vente is run by a lovely gay couple who know us by name and welcome us with bisous, not because we are big buyers but because we have always gotten along. The wagger chased us down until Remi gave up and manoeuvred the Range Rover into a precarious spot that also wasn't but that pleased her. I often have to struggle against the "expert" attitude in France but wagging is outright rude and I couldn't soothe my ruffled feathers, even after the owners came out from the back and explained that their friend was just trying to help. And with antiques hunting, you have to will the good pieces toward you. There is no room for crankiness. We left with nothing, not even ideas for our new apartment. Time to try another path.
Remi pulled over and parked in a corner of the country that we had always remarked upon but had never explored. It was already starting to get late, the sun was tired. Ben leapt from the back and turned in circles, his back feet swishing into the air like a rabbit. He lead us up, through fields of genévrier, juniper bushes glowing against blue-black pines, past the tracks of a sanglier, or wild boar, towards the summit.
The hills outside of Eygalières remind us both of the "backs of the dragon" that we love outside of Huê in Vietnam. There is something Asian as well in the heavy layering in the plants and minerals that shift the senses in sight, smell and touch. Remi gathered up bouquets of rosemary and thyme, I slid across the rocky terrain in a pair of poorly chosen Prada mules, Ben lifted his nose to the wind. From the grandeur of the horizon to the microscopic spiders clambering over the purple bud of a flower. Best to stop talking for awhile and just take it in.
And to just let my head be drained enough of sound to hear, as we descended back to the grasslands and the light sifted into flour, a symphony of crickets warming their bows for the evenings recital. These are not yet the monstrous, hysterical cigales that are a symbol of Provence. No, they are still sleeping. May is the time of the simple cricket. The one of your childhood that you held in your palm. And yet, as their vibrations were joined by hundreds of others, they gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. Not in any concrete form, nothing that I can put on a shelf. Invisible yet resoundingly true.