"Produits du paysans!!" I point and yell with the glee of a willful child that has just won the final round of "I spy" during an exceedingly long car trip. After catching his startled breath, Remi swings the Range Rover over to the side of the road. We are in need of supplies, red wine namely and where better to procure them than a shop offering "Peasant products" (oh all right, that is the literal translation but I couldn't resist). Remi dives under the yellow awning, a tiny bell rings as he opens the door and I step out to stretch. We are in Lodève, unexplored territory, on our way to rent a safari tent in the Haut Languedoc region. The dogs are panting in the back so I pop the hatch to give them some fresh air and ruffle the fur on top of their Golden heads.
Proper scratchies take time and so I let my gaze wander while my fingers do the work. As luck would have it, we have pulled up in front of an impressive and mysterious building. Closed, abandoned? No. There is a bright green metal mailbox tacked to the side of giant wooden entry doors like a sparrow on a rhino's back. The something something Archeological Society. Hm.
I tilt my head up and up to take in a stone portico, sober and sobering. This must have been a church before and for quite some time by the looks of...what?...the details. As if stepping in to a darkened room, my eyes adjust and I see them. The oddly placed numbers carved into the planks, a connect the dot code of a lost language. It is no less secretive than a barely legible chalk scrawl..."il faut a les..." no, I can't make it out. What is it that we "had to do" here? Something before entering? A warning not to enter?
I pull myself a part from the dogs to run my fingers in and out of the swiss cheese holes of what once must have been smooth stone. How very long it must have taken for that to happen. How very long for the paint to chip and then be painted over and chip again. Rust has oxidized around the locks but not enough to close them off. They are still open and waiting. As I touch them, I can hear the jangle of time's keys approaching and soon.
The tinkle of the bell pulls me out of my reverie and I see Remi laughing over his shoulder as he says his merci's and aurevoir's, a characteristic I love about him, always with a kind word. We pull away but before the adventure continues, I take one last look at the nameless, faceless building, one that becomes more so by the minute with distance until it resembles a blank slate of nothing. And yet I know it's tiny secrets and feel quietly reassured by having read through their layers like Braille. "On and on and on, we keep going," they whisper. I listened. I nod. I know.
Today's post is for the September issue of the By Invitation Only International blog party.
This month's theme is "patina," a subject close to my heart. While I have the good fortune to live amongst spectacular scars and beauty marks that portray two thousand years of history in Arles, I thought that this doorway of a forgotten church in a forgotten town conveyed the essence of what patina means to me as well.
To discover the other fine entries--and I am sure that there will be wonderful takes on such a gorgeous subject--by all means...Please click here.
I am especially excited that the incredibly talented and lovely Penelope Bianchi is joining the group, now in it's third year. To see her contribution...Please click here.