Monday, February 20, 2012

Haunted


High above the sleeping lavender fields lies the remains of a village I will not name. 


Odd of me, I know and not terribly professional but so be it. Up we climbed, as always with Ben, our Golden, running back to me with impatience. Come on, time to discover. Hurry up to find.



The village had been abandoned long ago. And I mean really abandoned as in "take the last ball of yarn" not the semi-recluse yet nonetheless charming villages that I have visited before. 


And yet, oddly, it felt alive. Very present. The simple beauty of the church, the force of the vines pushing through the house's foundations as if they were holding the walls in place for their owners to come back.


The texture of the stone was exceptional, fascinating. All of those many nicks by hand. Fitting into each other long after the mortar had evaporated. Worn away by a trilling wind.


I began taking photos like mad.


And yet a wave of cold washed over me. Stopped me in my tracks. I raised my head and looked out over the horizon. The farthest hills had turned black with the snow clouds rumbling. Could it be just the temperature falling?


Remi was working, Ben was with him. I felt so drawn to this place, almost euphoric at times but then again, that chill would come out of nowhere.


Mysterious arches led to deep tunnels in the ground, I did not dare see where they went. I scampered up higher where the sun shone brighter. Remi was there and he met my gaze questioningly but said nothing.


In a clearing a large tree raised its branches like proud crows wings and the edges were tipped in the red of new growth. A glowing red. A circle of carefully laid stones was in front of its trunk. Something wasn't right.


I crossed behind the church towards one of the outer buildings. I heard a deep rustle from within the buildings shell. Louder than a small animal rustle and yet there are no large animals in these parts. "Remi?" I called out, moving quickly away.


I found him with Ben and I don't remember who asked it but we both quickly agreed. Haunted. The sun was diving fast as we found the cemetery. I didn't dare go in. Remi did. There were only three graves and it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. And I think it goes without saying that he is not a man that spooks easily.


Still I felt within me a pull to stay even while I felt a stronger need to get off that mountain before the sun set. We did. Its beauty was undeniable and the light otherworldly. I will spread my frantic photos out over a few posts. 


Oh and the reason why I won't tell you the name? Not because it is haunted, I realize that is up for debate. But as we came down from the village, I saw a sign that I had somehow missed in my initial excitement: "Proprieté Privé, Acces Interdit, Danger".  Private property, no access allowed, danger.



48 comments:

  1. Wow, you've raised the hair on the back of my neck with this post! Heather, these photos are incredible and your words are just as strong. Talk about setting the gold standard for combining words and pictures. I'd buy this coffee table book in a second!

    I can't wait to see more!

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    1. Judith, I actually did think "Wow, we could do a book here" in the beginning but I tell you, I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China now!

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  2. What an experience! You conveyed the feeling so well, that I felt it here.

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    1. Thank you Annette and good to hear from you. Hope you and your horse are well!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your experience there. Excellent mood capture. I feel chilly just reading.
    The photo that gives me the willies is the one of the monument with the cross on top. I thought it was the center of town until I saw the cross. None of the other pictures give me a scary feeling.

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    1. Well, Poet Whale, that monument is by the cematary and where it was the scariest--coincidence or not?

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    2. Do you have a photo of the cemetery? I look at photo later, and each time even with a quick scroll there is weird there. I thought the tunnel picture would feel creepier, but nothing.
      Maybe they left because of an epidemic.

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  4. Lucky you to have found this incredible village. Beautiful photographs...now you have raised my curiosity, i will need to go on a search...xo Francine

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    1. Merci Francine, mais franchement...I really don't think that you want to go!

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  5. I always feel as though I'm with you. Your writing is like a really great painting - no extraneous words like no extraneous brushstrokes. Thanks - :-)

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    1. That is just the most lovely compliment Lindley--thank you very, very much!

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  6. Creepy. Heather. Creepy. I was just deciding what a stunningly beautiful day it was going to be, looking at the golden sunshine shafting in through the windows, when on reading your extraordinary words a chill ran through me too. Quick, quick, back to the sunlight!

    It's funny, I was discussing this with my youngest yesterday - about the association of darkness with evil and sunlight with safety. And so it is with your restricted, forgotten village escapade.

    As ever, so beautifully written & illustrated that I feel I am right there in your steps.

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    1. Merci, mon amie. But you know, there was tons of sunlight when we arrived and it ALREADY felt...strange. Some bad memories there for someone, for sure...

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  7. I wonder what the backstory is of the abandoment.

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    1. Me too, Pat. Definitely might be worth some research...?

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  8. Another outing captured as only you can do!Stunning photos and even more Stunning words............
    So, your here state side?!!Welcome HOME!

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    1. Thanks friend! Still far away from you though...

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  9. Spoooooky!! LOVE these pictures so much! Especially the ones where the buildings are lit up with golden light with the dark sky in the background - beautiful. In the photo with the monument with the cross on top, I think I see your shadow - or is it a ghost?? Ooooooooo!!! I love it!

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  10. I love the way you captured the sky. I can get completely lost in a French sky; you can see the paintings in them.
    I have to forward this to my friend Charley of 365thingsiloveaboutfrance because she is writing a Cathar ghost stories compilation. Maybe you can share the name of the area with her?
    aidan

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  11. It makes you wonder why a place so high up and with the perfect setting was abandoned. Perhaps the souls you felt were simply people needing company. Love your images of a past long forgotten.

    Enjoy your day!
    XX
    Debra~

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    1. Debra, that is so well said but I have lived in homes that had those kinds of spirits in them and I have to say it wasn't that! They wanted us out of there!

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  13. Heather,

    A friend passed along your blog link. Love your blog! Love this post!

    I am investigating haunted places in France, and would love to learn more about this place. appenzellarc@mac.com

    I also, like you, write about my adventures in France: http://www.365thingsthatiloveaboutfrance.blogspot.com/

    All the best,
    Charley

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    1. Hey Charley, I'll send you an email in a bit and will look forward to discovering your blog!

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  14. Beautifully constructed post. It captures the imagination.

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  15. Wow, your words and images left me breathless. Looked at it yesterday but had to come back and experience it again today. Hauntingly beautiful. Thanks for the experience!

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  16. I just got chills reading this! Not only is the story chilling {yet beautiful} but your words made me get chills. It was almost like reading poetry.
    Oh - Fancy That.

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  17. Beautiful yet, as Emily said, chilling - I was going to use the exact same word!!

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  18. mmmm...Heather, yes...very chilling...You were very brave to explore on your own while Remi and Ben were elsewhere, close but elsewhere. Visual poetry... your words, your structure, your visceral experiences, painted with eloquence. The unknown can frequently take on a life of it's own, can't it, consuming the rationale? Your words expressed just an experience in spades!

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  19. Looks like chilling is the word of the day! Thanks ladies--I'll take a spooky compliment. :)

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  20. Ok, you just made the hairs on my arms stand on end!

    Beautiful photos, Heather. I especially love the last two. Magical.

    ~ Clare x

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  21. Heather,
    I've given you a blog award. Post is here: http://www.conjugatingirregularverbs.com/2012/02/liebster-blog-award.html

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    1. Aidan, you are rocking my world this week! First the link to Charley, who is amazing and now this! Whoohoo!

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  22. Aidan sent me and there she is! I love these photographs for many reasons, and I'm sure you know what they are. You capture this peaceful place so well and the light......oh the light!
    Congrats on your award!
    V

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    1. Thank you Virginia and glad to see you here!

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  23. This is very near my village! High up in the Luberon it does tend to get eerie at times. Lots of places that look abandoned but feel like the souls never really left.

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    1. Isn't it true Sara? I told Charley about Oppede Le Vieux as well--I wasn't surprised when I later read about the several thousand people that were massacred there. Eeeee....And why would the souls want to leave? It is too beautiful!

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  24. Lovely pictures of your visit to the "haunted" village. It would be interesting to know why the village was abandoned and when this happened? Sad to see the memorial to those who died for France standing there unattended.

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  25. So well said. I did read on one website that the village was abandoned during WWI although found contradictory information later. The church was well-restored but as it is on private property, perhaps the townsfolk have less access to the monument...?

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  26. Beautiful! A perfect place for day-dreaming! I would get lost in the history. Just live ruins and your photos!
    xxxk

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  27. How beautiful! the perfect place to sit in a nice rock and wonder what stories are part of those houses, windows... Doesn't look so abandoned right? I think someone is keeping it so nice.

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  28. An enchanting description- I felt as if I were with, Remi and Ben and you. I could smell and feel the air.
    Bisous

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