I was in need of a view. Arles, despite its charms, can be claustrophobic. Closed in by Roman walls and an old-fashioned mentality, it can feel almost like living on an island. At times I need to move beyond the barriers to breathe.
We all have our magic places. Whether it be the fort made under the dining room table or a solitary stretch of beach on the other side of the planet, there are certain spaces that just make us feel at home with ourselves.
I know how lucky I am to have several such spots right here in Provence. Areas that resonate beyond beautiful.
We only had a bit of time. Remi had worked all day and at present I can count the moments of the sunset on my fingers and toes. So I asked for a sure thing, rather than go exploring. A certain lieu that never fails to put a smile on all of our faces.
There is a trail that starts just before the Dalmeran winery in St.-Etienne-de-Gres, one nibbled on by the rains and rough with rocks. But at the first turn, the ascent opens to a sweep across the Vallée du Rhone. And then I can let out a long exhale.
Already a creeping feeling of something mysterious mounts at the back of my neck. Moss-covered steps lead up to a cave dwelling that has housed who knows how many way-ward travellers, shepherds and bandits. And yet there is nothing frightening here.
Time to keep moving on, to make the most of the lingering light. Ben has bounded ahead, with his most frenetic bunny hop, back paws swinging side to side, ears flapping. He turns to egg me on and up.
Yes, and then there she is. Nôtre-Dame-du-Chateau. This tiny chapel tops the Saint-Michel-de-Briançon hill, just as it has for centuries (the first mention of it dates back to 1180). A guardian, then. And although, she is tiny in comparison to her Parisian counterpart, she is mighty in grace.
Once I make that last push to arrive at the back of the church, I always do the same thing: sit down on the grass and watch. The light, the birds flying over head, Ben rolling on his back in delight.
Remi is usually taking photos. Me too. But then I settle in and let the quiet wash over me. Always, always that gift of...peace.
For this Thanksgiving, I hope that I can share a bit of it with you, no matter what country you are in. Whether it is just another day, as it is here in France or if it is a grand fête and you are surrounded by loved ones.
I know that I have said it before, but it bears repeating how grateful I am to have you all here. For the connections that we have made and the happiness shared.
I am feeling especially blessed this year actually. For my wonderful Remi, my charmer Ben, my beautiful Sister and my adventurous Mom. For our health and that the wheel of fortune seems to be creaking in to a turn. We just might make a special meal tonight but if not I don't mind. The warm glow in my heart is all that really matters on this special day.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!