Saturday, August 20, 2011

August in the Alpilles, Part three

One last post concerning our time in the Alpilles. 

The experience still feels so close to me, the joy has remained in my heart. And the quiet too. Such a welcoming home and grounds. Perched on a hill and yet surrounded by pines for privacy, it is its own little kingdom. I do miss the pool, terribly. While I am not a proficient swimmer (typical Leo, I hold my head above the water line en permanence), I am so content to float and bob. My Mother reminded me recently that when I was teeny, I would stay in at the public pool until I was blue and chattering. One idea that occurred to me while I was doing my Esther Williams style twists (red-painted toes up! Towards the sky!), was that being in the pool, in the deep end, was an opportunity for surrender. Nothing below with just trust to keep me buoyed. Similarly with that first, sharp inhale followed by a swift dive to embrace the cold. There is nothing to do but surrender to it. How seldom that is the case in our daily lives, or rather, how seldom we allow ourselves such an opportunity.

Although I clearly thrilled over my pool time, it was Ben, our Golden Retriever that was the champion nageur. I was so grateful when our friend assured me that he was allowed. Poor Ben had never had the great connection to water that is normally his birthright as a Golden. Perhaps it is our fault, taking him to the sea when he was only a six-month-old pup. Those waves scared him. But it was not the case with this gradually descending pool and it was delightful to watch his first tentative bats at the water's surface with his paw. And certainly, where we go, he goes, so how could he resist? The first few days he was breathing awkwardly, drinking the (happily barely chlorinated) water in gulps as he went. Slowly, with time, he taught himself and even jumped off the side twice! He would literally shiver with joy while swimming, grunting as he paddled. Such joy is, of course, contagious.

In the evenings, Ben and I would make one last visit to the pool side to watch the sunset spread across, reaching towards the night with willowy fingers. A family of miniscule bats would come to drink, barely touching down on the waters surface, dancing all around us. Again, trust that their radar was working, that they wouldn't splat into us (something that actually did happen to me once pre-dawn at Angkor but that is another story). They did not and as night took its victory we would amble up the hill towards the light beckoning on the porch.

So here we are, already drinking in the last rays of summer. Let's toast to them while they still shine on.


  1. Beautiful! Wine, your favorite pooch, and cool refreshing water! Gorgeous pics!

    Renee and Angela

  2. How wonderful Ben enjoyed the water! Dylan, being a golden, is in the water twice a day happily swimming about down at the lake. Ben looks so cute! Looks like the three of you had a wonderful holiday.

  3. Wondeful pictures; what a beautiful house......and that pool!

    Thank you so much for these pictures! Good luck!!!

  4. Took my golden Maggie (3 yrs) swimming for the first time recenty.She adored it and I can't wait to do it again.Loved your pictures. What a delight.

  5. WOW,that seems to the only word I can come up with!That pool the view all so loverly!Ben,all wet and head tilted to one adorable!Great post...........and thank you for your comment on my little blog!I love chandeliers......have three in my small living room!Never enough!
    Ciao Bella

  6. hello Heather:
    We do not 'do' water, but we can safely say that we should have been sorely tempted by this most appealing of pools. However, we 'do' wine with gusto so we should have been happy to sip the chilled white whilst dangling our toes into the water!!

    What a lovely, restful time you all clearly had. Just what you needed we suspect. We hope that it has left you refreshed and readyto face the future.

    If [no, when] New York beckons, we shall certainly be asking for your 'little black book' recommendations. But, what fun if you could be there too?!!!

  7. Oh yes, it really was wonderful--thank you all!

    Debra, you know that I often have you in mind when I post pics of my dear Ben. How lucky Dylan is (and Maggie too)!

    La Contessa, I agree! I sold all of mine with our last house and miss them terribly. Could have them in every room...

    Dear Jane and Lance, oh that idea made me clap my hands together! Such a voyage would call for getting my LBDs and best heels out of retirement as well as polishing up on my notorious cab calling skills! I do love the thought of it...but at the very least, please know that I would be absolutely beyond delighted to make as many suggestions or help with planning needed to insure a fabulous visit to the Big Apple.

  8. Lovely post, Heather.....

    It's always a good idea to follow your dog's instinct for bliss whenever you've lost focus on your own bliss.

    I do that on a very regular (perhaps daily, I suppose) basis. I'm not kidding. Like you, I work for-myself/at-home...and there are more than Plenty of times that I simply park my ass down on the back steps and, for twenty or so minutes, watch the dogs in order to get some perspective on "how to be happy".

    Give Ye Olde Ben a treat for me.

    thanks as ever for the good writing,

    David Terry

  9. Luckily for Ben, I just happened to be eating a bit of quarte-quarts as I got your message David and so popped him the rest of what was crumbling in my hand. I told him it was from you. He had been sleeping and looked up at me afterwards through half-closed eyes as if he were thinking "Ah, Nirvana". They teach us well, I agree. Not to mention that Ben makes me laugh out loud every single day, often more than once. And we all need that too, now don't we?

  10. What a truly beautiful place - all of it - the house, the landscape and of course the pool - totally divine!! I have a lab who also doesn't have much opportunity to swim but my husband has been taking him to a friend's pool this summer and he just loves it. I would have been perfectly content there, with a glass of rosé, good company and the sunset!!

  11. You saved the best till last, in this remembrance of a beautiful holiday.

    On a hot, hot day, is there nothing more exquisite than allowing oneself the luxury of sinking into velvety cool, cool water? Delicious.

    And while your summer fades, I can see spring sunshine out of my window, reflected in golden wattle and white camelias and just a little reminder of the warmth of summer sunshine and the icy contrast of a pool this beautiful. Enjoy the last weeks of summer! Virginia x

  12. Hi Heather, it's Sonny's friend Julie in St. Remy. You've won the most recent book giveaway on my blog I need your mailing address please. Hope to meet you one day soon!

  13. What a fine group of friends I have here--I can't help but imagine getting together with all of you for sunset drinks and chatting into the night!

    Thanks again for your comments and yipee! I won something! It's a miracle! :)

  14. This place looks simply magical, Heather!! I don't think I'd ever leave that pool either... except to grab another glass of wine :-)

    ~ Clare x

  15. hmmm....reading over these comments? first consideration is that there seem to be a lot of ladies here who like their drink.

    If one of you starts banging out ragtime dance-tunes on the piano, "Lost in Arles" is going to suddenly turn into the sort of joint my mother said I was never allowed to visit.

    Warily yours as ever,

    david Terry

  16. You know I am hooked on the Alpilles Heather! Lovely shots....xv

  17. Clare, that is all I did! Make the trip up to the house, get another glass of rosé, that effort made me warm enough that it was time to get back in the pool, which made me thirsty...

    And yes, David, we ladies here like our tipple! Oh la, it is the water of life after all...Again, sending you safe thoughts as Irene approaches.

    Vicki, I think that you are the ambassadrice for the Alpilles!


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