Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Past Perfect



Kind of cranky. It happens, even in Provence and I have to say that Remi, Frederique and I were all in some sort of funk as we found the trail leading up to the ruins of the vieux village at Ongles. The day hadn't been going as planned. We had an excellent restaurant recommendation for Forcalquier, only to find it closed. The only other option was decidedly mediocre and the service moyen. At the end of the overly long meal, thunder clouds rolled in and we were caught in a down pour before we could blink. Not exactly the best conditions for Remi's photography. But don't give up. Keep moving. At the very least. This we know from our travels where you have to bring back the story no matter what the weather conditions. "Il ne pleut pas au paradis!"-- how many times have we declared that, fist shaking towards the heavens. "It doesn't rain in paradise," at least not for the magazines who publish nothing but blue skies.



No one spoke as we picked our way up the path, indicated only by a yellow slash mark on the trees, stepping gingerly over the fallen stones that had once been homes. An oppidum, or fortified site, had topped the hill since Roman times. A village was formed in 1074 then abandoned after the Royal Army  beat the Huguenots in 1586. As in Oppede-le-Vieux, its occupants moved further down the valley, no longer needing the high vantage point to protect them from invaders. 





The view was rewardingly stunning as we arrived at the summit. The Luberon opening up before us with a bow. Each of us still in our own world, lost in thoughts. Remi furious when he realized that he had forgotten his battery charger, so the day, despite the two hour drive to get here, would be cut short. At some point amidst the grumbles, I laid down in the grass, giving up. Eventually both Remi and Frederique did too. Each one in their corner. And we slept. 



The light had changed when we woke up but that wasn't all. Something had shifted within us. A link had been cut. By letting go of our expectations, we found that they weren't that important after all. It was a relief, a weight lifted and it seemed as if it was the ghosts of the ruins that were behind it. Or if that is too romantic, the trumping of time over an obnoxious and overly insistent in-between, neither now nor  the past. 



I didn't want to move. A grillon, or cricket was clinging to my ankle. It seemed like a good omen. When I finally did shake him off and we moved down the hill, the clouds had cleared and the town took on a rosy glow. Silly me, silly thoughts. Bells clanked as a flock of sheep grazed. One lifted its lips to me in a mocking smile.



Finding ourselves liberated, we all wisely chose to be in a fine mood and the light followed us willingly. The Prieuré de Salagon, which had seemed so sad only a few hours earlier, now presented us her best side front and forward as we retraced our route. Remi's batteries even held out for the tiny but unique Chapelle Saint-Paul de Saint-Michel-L'Observatoire, the last goal of our day.



As we piled into the Range Rover, ready to make the long drive back, we received a call, inviting us all to a fancy dinner party. We accepted but insisted on going as we were, grass stains and all, sweaty from the country walk that somehow had cleansed us inside but not out. Not perfect, but present, we arrived smiling and just in time to raise a glass of Champagne. Santé, Health, to us all.

11 comments:

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Heather:
You take us on such wonderful adventures in your posts that we quite lose ourselves within them, and this is no exception.

The countryside is, as always, dramatically beautiful but the way in which it is punctuated with antiquities and wonderful old buildings gives it a particular resonance for us.

And, what fun to have ended the day with an impromptu dinner with friends. This all sounds close to the Paradise with ever blue skies....

Acquired Objects said...

Those ruins are amazing, how could you ever fall a sleep among them? But it was so romantic and so beautiful. I love your adventures and what great luck to be invited for dinner and champange!

Looking Glass said...

Such beautiful photos! I love it when you can turn a bad day around & make it a wonderfully memorable one.

~ Clare x

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Robinson,

That's a lovely post.

It (as did another posting of yours from a couple of weeks ago) reminded me of a phrase that I first heard from a very dear, longtime friend of mine.

She was already an old lady when she first said it to me, and that was twenty years ago.

She was discussing a mutual female friend who'd recently married (for the first time, at age 50) for reasons that we found inexplicable. to be honest?....we were wondering (she at 65 or so, and me at age 25) whether this business would "work out".

My friend said "I don't know....but I worry.... ________ has always had the greatest capacity for joy out of all the folks I've ever known. "

(1) the marriage turned out just fine and is still in fucntioning order

(2) I've loved that phrase "a capacity for joy" for many years now, and your postings have made me recall it at least two times this month.

thanks for your good writing,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Blue Fruit said...

Well I truly believe that a place can change one's spirits. Perhaps you all needed to sleep off the crankiness, or perhaps as you slept you forgot about the crankiness, allowing yourselves to see the beauty of the place when you awoke.

A lovely ending from a peculiar start of a day ~ but aren't they the best of all?

ps ~ thank you for your comment and question about the door on the shed. I think it must be a very friendly street, to have a door that is so open! I got quite excited at the prospect of you buying a little goat shed in Provence, and renovating it into a writer's studio, I can picture it all already!

Virginia x

Luciane at HomeBunch.com said...

Wow... this place is pure peacefulness!

Beautiful post! Really, really beautiful.

Have a great day!

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Tracy said...

I love where you are, and I don't just mean where your feet hit the earth.
Attachment.. oy. Don't get me started, but that is exactly exactly the point of it all isn't it? Let go, let go let go let go.. It's more the struggle against leaning forward than it is the actual fall into grace, great light, etc that requires the nap.

Lost in Provence said...

Oh my, where have I been while all of these amazing comments have been piling up? Actually trying to work out something rather important, life-wise, but as I am compltely superstitious I won't say anything other than apologize for my tardiness in thanking you all.

Virginia, sadly we can't even afford a ruin here in this part of the world. But it is one of our dreams, so we will keep dreaming it and see what happens. I have been loving your blog so much lately. So positive!

Clare, we need to talk about acting!

Luciane, Debra and Les H's, I am so very content to have shifted the inspiration that you all give others back in your direction. Hooray!

David Terry, thank you for sharing your pitch perfect story and for the kind compliment, I am deeply flattered. "A capacity for joy" is ringing in my head. Actually, my friend Tracy over at Cooked Heads has recently been shifting my focus away from the very fuzzy "happiness" towards the very concrete "joy". Wonderful when it happens and you don't question it.

design elements said...

amazing ruins!

robin said...

I love that the light followed your better mood! And I second Tracy's comment wholeheartedly! Beautiful posts and pics, beautiful sister!

Lost in Provence said...

Thanks Sister! And Trace, somehow your comment didn't come up until after I had posted mine. Perhaps we were writing at the same time, which wouldn't surprise me in the least as we have been so joined at the proverbial (luckily because really that must be tough) hip.

Design Elements--happy to have you here!