Remi had lost his glasses. It was during the midst of a hurried photo shoot this weekend that took place in many locations and he was confounded as to where they could be. Not only would it be expensive to replace them but the frames had belonged to his late Father and so held enormous sentimental value. In stillness, he played back the day, moment by moment until he was fairly certain when he had used them last. It was with great joy that when he called the Mas des Barres (more about them another time), he was told that some kind soul had found them outside. Their boutique would close at noon, it was already after 10am. There was no time to lose. We gathered the dogs, put them in the back of the car and headed out into the Alpilles. After having recovered the precious lenses, we turned towards a place that we have always called "La Vallée Secrète" or Our Secret Valley.
It is off the road on a bended elbow of land that you have to know about in order to explore. Here, it is always beautiful but never less so than yesterday. The poppies were still waving, the olive trees green with promise. Already, the noon day sun was white overhead so we stuck to the shadows, willingly. The dogs were just themselves, Kipling well out in front, tail up and Ben lagging behind just long enough to make sure that I was all right each time that I paused to take a photograph, trying to capture something not at all mine but was mercifully willingly shared. And so I was late to the scene but drawn with Remi's laughter as he called to me loudly to "Viens, vite!" just in time to see Mr. Ben having waded into the tiniest creek that was pooling out of a near hillside. Apparently, he had, in his way, asked for permission of Remi before sinking into the cool, clear water. He didn't move then, just smiled broadly. With a bit of persuasion, Remi even coaxed Kipling, the rascal, to join Ben but not for long. Afterwards, invigorated, both rolled in the grass and zoomed some zoomies. We piled back into the car, windows down and I couldn't help but smiling all the way home.
For it is the surprise, you see. I never, ever thought that I would be here. Why should I be when there was never an arrow pointing from the Midwest of the United States to Provence? Not to say that all is perfect just because of the location. We are not wealthy people, we struggle. But there are moments of such generous beauty that are here for the taking and are free. Free of charge if we can see them. Well, it is just a thought.
The base of my first memories is of my Mom opening up the kitchen door and out I would skip to play in the woods on the other side of the country road from the farmhouse where she herself had grown up. I would spend hours alone under the trees thinking up stories and creating worlds within worlds. Later on, I would be spared loneliness from moving so often by discovering the world of literature and all of its many characters that were ready to be my friend! So I suppose that it isn't surprising that I wanted to bring them to life through acting. From age 17 to 32 I put my heart and soul into that career, having attended New York University and then the Yale School of Drama. I auditioned continuously and worked when I could as actors do, I felt alive. Acting was what I was truly good at, my home. But then I met Remi. End of sentence, full stop. I knew that I had to move to Paris to be with him almost immediately, I knew it and so I did. We formed a team of journalist (me, learning on the hoof) and experienced photographer. Doing so, we travelled the world together and saw such things as I had never read, not even in my beloved books.
And now we are in Provence. We moved here on a whim, before the power of the Press collapsed and I later started this blog as a way of keeping my hand in. Staying creative was a way to keep from being lost amidst so many changes. Or trying at least. I recently wrote that telling stories was the through line of my life but I am only just realizing it now. You see, I didn't long to be an actress, I was one. I didn't aspire to being a travel writer, I had no choice in the matter. This is how my life has rolled out so far. When I look ahead of me, I honestly see a blank. I have no idea what could happen. Which can be utterly terrifying for I do not have the financial security of my friends and colleagues. But if I am smart and if it is a good day, like yesterday, my vision is as clear as Remi's is now that his glasses have been restored. For all along, I have been living with something inside of me...something like a little bit of magic. We all have it. And so far - and I knock on wood - it has never let me down.
Today's post is my contribution to our international blogging party. This month's theme was chosen by the lovely Vicki Archer who asked: "What did you imagine you would do when you grew up? Are you somewhere totally expected or following the path you had imagined?"
It is a good question, isn't it? I answered it in my own way but I would love to know what yours is. To see the replies of the other women in this amazing group, please click: here.
Would you like a bit of music for this post? I chose "If the stars were mine" by Melody Gardot as I couldn't get it out of my head while writing this! You can listen to it by clicking: here.
PS. Thank you all for the amazing response to my previous post regarding "An incredibly charming village house for sale in Provence" - if you missed it, you can read it here.
PPS. For those of you that are new here - hooray! - by clicking on the links within the post you will learn...well, just about all you need to know about Lost in Arles. Cheers!